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July 13, 2005

Freedom Tower Fiasco

It's been a week since the latest iteration of Manhattan's Freedom Tower was introduced, and reaction has ranged from rabid to polite acquiescing. Politicos like New York's Governor Pataki are saying they are thrilled, 3000 families are still distressed, while readers in the blogosphere are furious that perhaps the most important piece of architecture this millenium has been hijacked by the establishment.

Without doubt the design bar has been set perhaps as high as the magnificent towers once stood: the new building(s) must immortalize yet inspire, be somber yet exhiliarating, sacred yet open for business, inviting yet impenetrable -- while filling an aching void in the New York skyline and in hearts that lost loved ones. The further challenge is that we aren't over our love affair with the twin towers, and virtually anything in comparison -- well, gets compared ... and quite unfavorably.

According to Slate the new sketch is an improvement over the former two, while on the Archinect blog there is much handwringing and denunciation over David Childs' renderings. What are you thoughts? Is SOM the right group to rise to such a task? how do you reconcile public safety concerns (ala the 20-story high, explosive resistent cement base) with anything resembling aesthetics? have the politicians stifled the creative in their zeal to curry favor with victim's groups and public safety concerns, or are the iterations just part of the creative process?

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