Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The new design for the Freedom Tower

The first pictures of David M. Childs' redesign came out today and my first reaction was good: It has an attractive profile, which evokes the old, while still feeling new. I wouldn't mind seeing this on the skyline five years hence. As I read the exhaustive details laid out in the NYT article, I continued to like the ideas, including the current look of the spire and the way the building changes from square-shaped floors to octagonal ones and back to square floors.
Some things stuck out to me, though: The energy windmills are gone and the shape of the building is not as Daniel Libeskind had intended it. In fact, almost everything except the name and the height seem to have been changed by Childs and his firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Which doesn't have to be a bad thing, but just shows how the numerous interests have shifted the focus from a more daring design to a more monolithic one, akin to the original towers.
This big ground-level concrete pedestal with the glass tower above -- which is also the idea behind World Trade Center 7 -- really reminds me of the way the Statue of Liberty is built. But while the top of Libeskind's tower evoked the curve of Liberty's torch-holding arm, Childs' version mimics the statue's more practical side: its base. An opportunity to soar for the heights is once again grounded by bureaucratic compromise.

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