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Le plus haut: World Trade Center

Studio Daniel Libeskind has won the design competition for the rebuilding of Ground Zero. The design features a 1,776-foot tall tower enclosing a “vertical world garden,” exposure of the original towers’ subterranean slurry walls, and a “wedge of light” allowing the sun to illuminate the site each September 11th between the precise time the first plane hit and the collapse of the second tower. In general the design looks quite fragmented and crystalline - typical of the deconstructivist “style” of architecture he helped found.

Although it’s nothing like the kind of stuff I do for architecture studio, I find it incredibly intriguing and quite poetic. The concerns I’ve read about leading up to this final decision have dealt with whether the site should engage itself more with the tragedy and memory of the terrorist activities or more with the altruism and recovery afterwards. I, personally, think Mr. Libeskind’s proposal deals fairly with each without neglecting or over-emphasizing the other.

A few of the other Tech students here in France went to Germany last week and saw Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin. The museum’s design is based on a rather involved process of connecting lines between locations of historic events and locations of Jewish culture in the city, and it’s generally considered his best work to date. Like the proposal in New York, the museum deals with issues of absence, voids, tragedy, continuity, defiance, and hope.

I read somewhere this morning that no construction will begin until at least 2005. I just hope that this doesn’t get watered down too much before it’s finally completed. For instance, Libeskind’s proposal for having the memorial sit 70 feet below street level on the exposed bedrock of Manhattan has been raised 40 feet to allow for underground bus parking. Is it just me or does standing on the roof of a parking deck looking up a couple stories not have the same affect as feeling the terrestrial foundations of one the world’s largest cities pressing against the soles of your feet while being dwarfed by walls that are holding back the forces of the Hudson River?

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