Controversy over The Cloud forces MVRDV to Apologize

© Luxigon

Dutch firm MVRDV has received harsh criticism since they revealed the proposal for two luxury residential towers in South , named after its inspiration, The Cloud. The two towers are connected by a “pixilated cloud of additional program.” Critics are outraged, stating the design resembles the collapsing twin towers of the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

spokesman Jan Kinkker stated, “We’ve had quite a lot of calls from angry Americans saying it’s a disgrace. 9/11 was not the inspiration behind the design, the inspiration was a real cloud.” He added, “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt.”

Project developer Dream Corporation selected The Cloud design proposal over a number of other options and will have the final say on whether or not they will consider another alternative.

Reference: BD

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Controversy over The Cloud forces MVRDV to Apologize" 12 Dec 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 Aug 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +14

    Now I’m waiting for every American architect who’s ever built a dome which even faintly resembles the explosions in Hiroshima or Nagasaki to apologize.

    Oh wait, I forgot.

    Americans never apologize for their evil and their callousness, but the rest of the world is expected to kiss their feet.

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        FDR defeated Hitler. He was a Progressive liberal Democrat.

        Carter defeated the USSR and then Reagan took credit for it. Carter was a Christian liberal Democrat.

        Obama killed Bin Laden in 2 years and decimated Al Qaeda, killing or capturing 25 of the top 30 of their leaders. Meanwhile Bush and Cheney watched in bitter envy of Obama’s effectiveness. And just for good measure, Obama won in Libya the smart way, and it only took 6 months and not a single America soldier died.

        So I agree. As I said, America can do great things, if/when liberals are in charge. Otherwise, not so much…

        Meanwhile the dictators in Haiti in the 1980′s disappeared artists, journalists, activists, etc simply because they knew Ronald Reagan would let them, and they said so, to Reagan’s eternal shame.

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      Dear Friends:
      I found the entire episode about the CLOUD, and the comments irrelevant and inane. We seem unable to focus on real issues or to discuss what constitutes forward evolution in architecture and urbanism? The issue is whether the CLOUD is a prototype of any value? Does it speak of a new aesthetic or does it address any social problem or urban issue? Does it take away from its context more than it adds?
      We architects have to come together and work on a common ground to make some meaningful contributions to our societies and to each other.
      I personally found the CLOUD a rather expensive stunt and an attempt to by spectacular rather than addressing the urban fabric and social context in which it is built. Unfortunately, instead of being an interesting and unique piece of architecture these things themselves are getting boring.
      Christopher Benninger
      Pune India

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      i’m sure i would dissagree with almost everthing you would say about anything but this not the place for me to teach you about the world and politics. the bottom line is that people have the right to complain about a building that reminds them of a horrific event. that doesnt mean that mvrdv should change their design or even care what those people think. but i believe they handled it well with an brief apology and explanation of their design.

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    As an American I would not care it the design were to have been inspired by WTC. I also do not believe that simple resemblance warrants an apology.
    I do though find it quite odd that MVRDV did not at least notice its likeness during design.

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      As no one has responded to Ted…

      Japan started the war against the US, and all the non-Japanese peoples of Eastern Asia. Japan enslaved, raped and killed thousands of women and children, yet no one ever slams the Japanese for doing so (ask China about Nanking). It is always about America dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in an attempt (ironic though it may be) to stop the loss of life and end the war. Was the loss of so many innocent people avoidable? Who knows? Is it tragic? Yes. Should Japan have NOT attacked America in the first place? Yep.

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        ha, Eric you’re a better person than me for even trying to explain to Ted reality, but i’m pretty sure it wont help as he will only remember what he wants to anyway.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    “angry americans” are offended by dutch design in south korea…
    does anyone else finds this very disturbing ??
    even if this was inspired by 9/11 (hard to believe – strange thing to draw your inspiration from] somehow i cannot see the offense there..
    very elegant design, MVRDV has nothing to apologize for…
    when we bend to “critique” of few misinformed and ignorant people, where will it end??

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    As a New Yorker and a designer, I am not offended by the parallels between the WTC and this design. I am offended by yet another crappy piece of paper Architecture by MVRDV. The forthright built works by this work are much better, without any kitsch.

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      The new stuff does seem to be lacking the richness of their earlier work… The “alphabet” facade really bugged me a little while back, this is not a favorite of mine either. UN Studio is doing the same thing for me these days..

      And I remember being frozen in front of the tv during 9/11, yet I didn’t notice this design resembling that fateful day until people started posting comments on here. Looks like more of the pixellation stuffis which is (IMO regrettably) the flavor of the month.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Apologizing for this was the biggest mistake ever. How can you apologize to some frustrated americans? Let’s not put black in our design from now one cose someone lost a person in the black ages…

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I wonder how many of these “offended Americans” are also the first to be “offended” by political correctness…

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think it was a smart (but unwarranted) apology/disclaimer on MVRDV’s part. They’re a fun-loving bunch (I suspect) who do great work and investigations (which is what architecture needs) No sense trying to defend with arrogance; diffuse it quickly and move on. No architect needs that kind of negative PR. Imaging how many people Galileo offended on his journey to push the envelope of Astrology. Everybody’s so touchy(!) I saw the similarity right away, but found it a coincidence overall. Plus it’s not here in the states, so it’s less likely to get egged when it’s complete.

  8. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    From the perspective of an American, I certainly feel frustrated with the moral outcry from many individuals who feel it necessary to demonize the people at MVRDV for something they certainly did not intend. That being said, the firm is surely filled with some smart, insightful people. I find it hard to believe that no one saw any resemblance if international media sources were quick to point out the similarities. Its equally as embarrassing to be in a profession where brilliant people claim complete denial for how people might interpret the symbolism of the architecture they create, as it is for people to completely detach a creative conclusion from its process (especially one that MVRDV clearly illustrated how they arrived at)

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      Not every thing is black and white and for some associates directly with the twins at 9/11 does not for others… simple as that!

      In any case – most of the media covering this design was probably in the first group so this is how it goes… I actually see a great design inspired by the “Skyscraper in the clouds” concept. Very bold of them to do this one without any connection to 9/11

      It is true that after the 9/11 connection was mentioned, the images of the blasts right after the airplane crush look very similar to one of the renders… but being offended and blasting MVRDV as terrorist lovers is way to extreme, no?

  9. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    Being american, and a studying Architect, I can say that 9/11 is the last thing I saw in this building. It’s people like this that ruin great architecture. The building is a fantastic proposal and a unique design.

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      As an architect, my advice to you is to choose a different profession. If you can’t see 911 imagery in this then you truly lack imagination. It was the first thing I saw.

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        I think MVRDV did a good job by apologizing since 9/11 is still in recent memory and a very tragic thing to be compared to. The buildings do RESEMBLE 9/11 but it’s wrong to think that they are INSPIRED by 9/11. I think it’s actually insulting for people to think that architects would draw inspiration from such tragedy and then express it in such a literal way. That’s not how architecture works. We don’t wake up in the morning and look in the “Doom and Gloom” section of the paper for inspiration and then think of the most easily recognizable way to represent them in architectural form. For the most part, architects are looking for ways to help heal the world not polarize it. So please stop all the American-bashing and the mean spirited ranting because I’m sure MVRDV wouldn’t have wanted all this and are hoping that this blows over quickly.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Poor MVRDV. I love their innocent response ‘the inspiration was a real cloud’ as if they are a child holding up a painting. I’m glad they apologised because it shows they aren’t arrogant about their design like others would be, I hope they go ahead with the build.

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Being from NYC, I see the comparison but only because I read the title, otherwise it would have been the furthest thing from my mind. I would also like to add that I don’t see one “angry American” comment disgracing these buildings..the large majority of us are not “evil”. However, it is hard not to compare to the twin towers because it is rare to see two rectangular buildings in a dense urban fabric. ;)

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    And the Twin Towers of light tribute (floodlights shining into the sky) is inspired by the Nazis… Strange that there was no controversy about that!

  13. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Dear american ignorant, not everything is about you. MVRDV was an office of innovative concepts a long time ago, now they just copy themselves or other people concepts.This project is just result of boring structuralism, this resource it’s a way over done. Lately I looks like their only resource.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Haha, thats hilarious! I come from Germany, we always apologize for everything constantly, if its touching our villainous history. Its so nice to see someone else put his foot in one’s mouth.

  15. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Ya it Does look like the WTC twin tower wrapped over the huge fumes of smoke.. but this dont mean the MVRDV mocking at the American Lost…

  16. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I think architects should be free to get inspiration from anything, that is what make architecture creative an inventive. I do not care whether they were thinking in a cloud or not, they do not have to apologize, they are not terrorists. We should analyze the whole book, not only by the cover.

  17. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I lived in NYC during 9/11, and I didn’t see any resemblance in this design to the WTC until after it was mentioned in the commentary. The sense of outrage by some is surely ridiculous and hypocritical. However, categorically dismissing all Americans for the response of a few is equally boorish. Personally, I find the design gimmicky…the directness of the cloud translation is a bit postmodern for my taste.

  18. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    MVRDV somehow did a mistake in not seeing such a resemblance, images of WTC explosions are so strong in our minds due to media power. On the other hand, I am so much bothered by this attitude of random attack from Americans. This is a project in Korea, why they have to decide for something that do not belong to them?
    Moreover, architecture market is already difficult and overwhelmed by economic crisis, by attacking MVRDV in such a way, they are going to spoil that firm.

  19. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Does the design accomplish the intentended aesthetic? From the renderings, it is my opinion it doesn’t very successfully. Perhaps the region should be dissolved not overbuilt. The result, if built, could be a rich space regardless of intent.

  20. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Is there a similarity between 9/11 and the Cloud project? Perhaps, but it’s no different than a religious person seeing Jesus in their burnt toast, or an image of an animal or face in the clouds. It’s call pareidolia; “a psychological phenomenon involving vague and random stimulus being perceived as significant.” It’s nothing more than a coincidence. Get over it.

    Don’t get me wrong, even as a Canadian 9/11 had a profound impact on the way I view the world, but let’s not continue America’s incessant paranoia with everyone else on this planet. If they could have it their way, they would be controlling what the world eats for breakfast every day and tracking my every move. To America: chill out.

    Despite what some may desire, I sincerely hope that MVRDV moves forward with this project. I think it could be a great project and I like quite enjoy their dissemination of clouds into built form.

  21. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    ha! what’s the deal with all these long-winded, bitter comments? don’t any of you architects have jobs? oh wait…

    take off your hater halter tops and realize the project’s busted.

  22. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    This so-called “design” is pure media (hype).

    The whole controversy arises from the title:

    That the thing needs a title in the first place is a telling sign of the architects’ motives.

  23. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Wow! the hatred in most of the comments here are despicable…talk about intolerance. So what if people are offended by the design? what’s wrong with that? So what if MVRDV apologized? what’s wrong with that? People lost family and friends that day and it’s still a very vivid memory for most of them.

    Thankfully, i didnt lose anyone in 9/11 so i didnt see the resemblance at first but i can see and understand why people are bothered by it…what’s wrong with that?

  24. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Wow! the hatred in most of the comments here are despicable…talk about intolerance. So what if people are offended by the design? what’s wrong with that? So what if MVRDV apologized? what’s wrong with that? People lost family and friends that day and it’s still a very vivid memory for most of them.

    Thankfully, i didnt lose anyone in 9/11 so i didnt see the resemblance at first but i can see and understand why people are bothered by it…what’s wrong with that?

  25. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Honestly, I don’t care. It definitely resembles one of the iconic images of 9/11 and I think MVRDV are being disingenuous when they say no one at the firm saw the similarity. The designers there are tied into social and political happenings worldwide and the whole world saw images of the Twin Towers. I don’t think the WTC was their inspiration, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if I found out they recognized the similarity at some point and said, “ah, screw it”. They are not a firm that is against a little instigation after all. But I’m not one to be against a little instigation myself, so it really doesn’t bother me either way. Let’s stop pretending it doesn’t resemble that image in any way though. Just as the world does not revolve around America, architects are not immune from being insensitive.

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