The USA's tallest building shoulders one of the nation's greatest challenges: paying tribute to lives lost in one of the country's greatest tragedies. One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan has yet to be completed and yet has still recently been condemned by a number of critics, who cite the former "Freedom Tower" as an inspirational failure. Thirteen years after the attacks, the wider site at ground zero also remains plagued by red tape and bureaucratic delays, unfinished and as-yet-unbuilt World Trade Centers, Calatrava's $5B transit hub, and an absence of reverence, according to critics. Read some of the most potent reviews of the new World Trade Center site from the press in our compilation after the break.
In Manhattan, space is at a premium. Businesses, residents and the public compete for the same handful of available space unquestionably resulting in compromise from all sides. The reconstruction of the World Trade Center plaza was no different, according to Michael Sorkin's article in Metropolis Magazine. The dignity of the dead was in direct competition with the needs of corporations, says Sorkin of the site's all-encompassing master plan. "It’s clear that the contest between dignity and banality has been resolved on the side of the latter, decisively and consistently." Sorkin argues that Norwegian firm Snøhetta, designers of the above-ground pavilion leading to the memorial museum were victims of the space war. Throughout the article, Sorkin argues the irrelevance of Snøhetta's modest pavilion in the grand scheme of commercial necessities - a point cemented by the $24 entry fee to the memorial itself.
"From the start, the new World Trade Center could not be a living place that also memorialised the dead. It had to make their deaths visible at demagogic scale, 180 feet square times two," says Jason Farago, writing for The Guardian. One World Trade Center, argues Farago, is a monument to political leaders and not to the tragedy of September 11th. The article focuses on Larry Silverstein, real estate magnate and owner of all seven World Trade Center towers, mastermind behind the redevelopment project and legal aficionado. Silverstein positioned himself as the victim of financial woes, according to Farago, and subsequently proceeded to sue United and American Airlines, and his insurers whom he asked for a double payout. The redevelopment of 1WTC was a shell game played by Silverstein against all levels of government while duping Daniel Libeskind, master planner on the project.
The failure of One World Trade Center is twofold: mismatched exterior designs paired with excessive security concerns ruined the building, says Karrie Jacobs in FastCo Design. "There are two towers, the Freedom Tower and the Office Tower. There’s the monument we set out to building in aftermath of 9/11, and the commercial high-rise," says Jacobs. The original monumental designs were sacrificed in the early stages in favour of a building that could withstand a surface-level explosion, creating a disconnect between purpose and use. Feuding between architects, developers, politicians, and financiers created a veritable tsunami of red tape, effectively dismantling the notion of a monument and simultaneously destroying the cohesion of the exterior design. The nearly-complete patchwork tower, One World Trade Center, represents the result of the chaos of rebuilding an emotional legacy while paying tribute to the corporate elite - the incoherence was inevitable.