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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The failure of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center



Thousands came to the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center. Construction workers and ordinary people worked among untiringly among the rubble. The health consequences they would suffer would go on to haunt them as the protection they were provided was inadequate and medical followups were sorely lacking. When the ruins were cleared, what remained was a great pit and the question rose of what would fill it.

Much of the public wanted to see the towers rise again but that was not what the architects wanted. The public wanted the towers rebuilt as a symbol of determination. Architects had no use for the towers. Both Libeskind, Governor Pataki's architect and Childers, the developer's architect, had come out in print describing the WTC as awfull. Their goal was not to rebuild anything but to replace it with a building that would make their reputation based on their own aesthetic tastes.

From the beginning the rebuilding of the WTC had been grotesquely mishandled. Days after 9/11 Governor Pataki handed an aid request to the Federal government full of pork barrel projects for his home territory upstate rather than for New York City. The Bush administration bounced his request. Nothing has changed as this month the Federal government is pulling hundreds of millions of dollars in aid that New York City failed to spend by the proper time. This kind of incompetence has characterized the rebuilding project.

Governor Pataki has been the prime villain in this regard allowing cronyism to overrun the public interest time and time again. The architect whose selection he strongly influenced was the german Daniel Libeskind. He had never designed a skyscraper before. His previous buildings looked like piles of broken rubble. His design featured lower stories of glass and entirely impractical features. But what he lacked in ability, he made up for in a common sense approach to knowing how politics really works and how buildings get built, not on their merits but on their politics. So Libeskind went ahead and hired the same law firm as Governor Pataki used (themselves major Pataki contributors) and promoted his ugly construction as the 'Freedom Tower' undoubtedly inspired by a European's wry contempt for Americans renaming french fries, freedom fries, certain that Americans would go for anything with the tag name, Freedom.

Public opinion polls repeatedly showed support for a British design for the towers by a noted architect that featured two tall towers suggestive of the original twin towers. However the LMDC was not controlled by the public despite the outwards appearance of public meetings and sessions. The Governor of New York and the Mayor were in charge as was the developer, whose actual attentions were spent on a bogus lawsuit against his insurance company attempting to claim the attacks of 9/11 as two separate attacks thus netting him double the money for the buildings. He failed at this but not before spending millions on the lawsuit, that would itself limit his rebuilding capacities.

Libeskind was the original winner with a design that looked something like Krypton on the original Superman movie. He was the ultimate loser though as the Mayor and developer teamed up to push him out and replace him with Childers whose brilliant idea involved putting a windmill on top of the tower. Four years later a security review by the police finally cut through the noise and pointed out that a tower whose lower stories were made of glass was an utterly unfeasible design. And so the rebuilding of the World Trade Center continues to go nowhere. Millions have been wasted. Millions more will be wasted.

The American left though neither sleeps nor slumbers going to and fro across the earth. The 'International Freedom Center', part of Libeskind's original master plan, will be a museum of freedom that will dwarf the actual museum memorializing the attacks. This museum, even before its built shows every sign that it will be used to attack America featuring lectures on how American overreaction to 9/11 undermined freedom. Having hijacked the rebuilding itself, this will be the final insult on a project that has radically diverged from anything that can be called a rebuilding.

Osama Bin Laden destroyed the Twin Towers but demonstrating in microscopic form the same elements that have made the War on Terror a failure, it was our own leaders who have prevented them from being rebuilt instead squandering the money on absurd projects (Mayor Bloomberg has pushed for a 3 billion dollar tunnel from downtown Manhattan to JFK airport), guided by cronyism and devoid of vision. Instead of pushing ahead, we have gone nowhere and failed without even trying.

3 comments:

  1. Anonymous16/6/05

    Nice article Knish.
    Have a burger on me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. :) thanks mightly for that burger matt, glad you got your appetite back

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous19/6/05

    I like Trump's idea.

    Rebuild the Towers as the Towers and be done with it, already.

    The 9/11 industry is becoming a behemoth in its own right.

    ReplyDelete

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