Freedom Tower

by Yule Heibel on May 21, 2005

What’s That Donald playing at? In early 2003, Daniel Libeskind won the commission to redesign the World Trade Center. His winning proposal consisted of an inspirational design that clearly responded in a sophisticated and deeply felt way to the needs both of the citizens as well as the commercial demands of the city. Then, things got really messy when Larry Silverstein, the owner of the lease on the World Trade Center site, decided he wanted his chosen favourite architect, David Childs, involved. Silverstein commissioned Childs to design the piece known as The Freedom Tower. Childs was intent on destroying several key aspects of Libeskind’s plan. As the latter put it in his book, Breaking Ground, sometime in October 2003 Libeskind’s wife Nina (incidentally the sister of our very own Stephen Lewis, and daughter of David Lewis) laid down the essential points to Janno Lieber over lunch at Manhattan’s Harvard Club:

“Number one,” said Nina, “the building must be 1,776 feet tall. Number two, the roof plane has to continue the ascending spire of the other four towers, making the skyline gesture to the importance of the memorial. Number three, there has to be an ecological component in the sky connecting the roofline to the antenna. And number four, the building has to be asymmetrical, so that it mirrors the Statue of Liberty’s torch.” [From Breaking Ground p.261]

On December 19, 2003, after much wrangling, Libeskind got what he needed: Childs’s design for The Freedom Tower, although gussied up from what Libeskind originally intended, conformed to the essential aspects he had spelled out.

Then along galumphs Donald Trump, using the legendary feud between Libeskind and Childs to “divide and conquer,” and to put forth his “own” ridiculous plan for the rebuilding: duplicate the destroyed Twin Towers, only make ’em even bigger! Several newspaper reports have pounced on this, without explaining, however, that Libeskind would hardly endorse Trump’s plans. For example, the Washington Post writes that Trump read from a letter Libeskind “sent to him [Trump]” in which the latter, quote: was “essentially complaining that the design is no good,” Trump said. That slant was “essentially” picked up by many other press sources. Hoppla! Let’s go back to what Libeskind said Nina said — Trump’s idea hardly fits in, does it?

And this is how some other articles (in Australia: Sydney Morning Herald) tell it:

Ground Zero master planner Daniel Libeskind, branded an “egghead” by Trump over the design of the Freedom Tower, fired off a letter to the property tycoon this week, pointing out that he was not responsible for the building’s problems.

The Polish-born architect stressed that the footprint and twisting shape of the tower were the work of David Childs, who was hired by Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein to modify Libeskind’s vision.

“I am sure that all of us, whatever the shape of our head or its decorative accessory agree that security is the paramount concern for the new tower,” Libeskind wrote in a thinly-veiled dig at Trump’s distinctive hairstyle. [More…]

Touché, or should that be toupée?

Of course, it might be that the single best idea for the rebuilding comes from The Spoof, which revealed George W. Bush’s architectural proposal for a Freedom Tower. Putting words into Dubya’s mouth, the satire has the president explaining thus:

“Americans–and people all over the world–will be able to look at the Freedom Tower in New York City and see just what the War on Terror is all about,” proclaimed the President. “Those folks who question our mission in Iraq will finally understand why we had to overthrow Saddam Hussein.” [More…]

Oh why not? An oil well….

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