The Twin Towers had a profound presence in my life. I would greet them every morning, watching the sunlight dance across their facades, and, in the evening, I would search for patterns in the office lights that never seemed to fade. As a child, I would stand at the base of the towers and crane my neck in an effort to see the very top where the towers met the sky, trying not to stumble backward onto the stone of the plaza, mesmerized by their dizzying height and stoic duality.
I was in science class in the 6th grade when the towers were hit.
And, so began the quest of what would fill the emotional and physical gap left in my city. But, my focus today, on this day of remembrance, is the progress that has been made at the site and the promise for its future.
Over eleven years, my city has been in a constant state of change. Whereas the Twin Towers were a permanent staple of home, this new Freedom Tower was an unclear evolving entity, slowly making its way into the skyline. Yes, there were renderings and models to reference, but the effects of a project of this magnitude – filling this kind of gap – was something that had to be experienced to be understood. And, so, Americans – New Yorkers, in particular – waited anxiously and patiently to see what would rise.
The Freedom Tower is not like other construction in the city. This project causes pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks as people pause just to see the concrete core, steel floors and glass rising above the blue construction barriers. This project received major headlines when the last steel beam was set in place and warranted a mini-series on its construction. This project was not something that would go unnoticed and just gain attention when occupied.
Yes, it is just a building, but it is also a lot more than that.
To that extent, my family and I got into the habit of snapping pictures of the tower from different vantage points – nothing elaborately composed or labor intensive – just quick shots on our phones shared via text with one another. The photos are a casual way to document the change that is happening and serve as a reminder of what the city was like as the project takes shape. For this project, the slow growth and the slow ascension to the sky are just as important as the final product, as the journey brings a sense of healing and offers ideas of hope.
So, on this anniversary, I share some “family” photos of our life with the tower. For me, it is amazing to see the growth that has transpired. And, because the process has been so lengthy, the tower feels truly as if it has been growing alongside us, not just plopped into the skyline without giving us the chance to get to know it gradually.
It has taken living through the realization of the Freedom Tower for me to understand that architecture has the power to be so much more than the humble parts from which it is made. This architecture is a tower that is not just a building: it is the next generation’s icon in the skyline and one of our success stories.