For Those Who Miss Buildings with Gaping Holes


Libeskind’s original Freedom Tower design

The pretentious maestro of building design, Daniel Libeskind, is back to torment us with an appalling new idea, Bloomberg reports – buildings with holes, to take advantage of our nostalgia for 9/11, one supposes.

Libeskind, if you’ll recall, was the guy who brought us the initial “master plan” for the World Trade Center site. He had an idea to stick five skyscrapers on the site, each spiraling higher than the next toward the “Freedom Tower,” which was to be 1776-feet tall. Yes, it was that subtle.

Just what we needed, we thought at the time: millions of square feet of commercial space. And it was “sacred ground.” Who would dare criticize?

It’s a little late now, but we have to wonder why couldn’t we just have had a nice park with a modest, tasteful memorial, rather than the sprawling monument to ego, tourism and government subsidy that we ended up with. Waterfalls? Are you kidding me?

Anyway, in the ravenous political scrap over the site, Libeskind was eventually pushed out and never got to design a building at the WTC.

He’s now designing a new 900-foot tower at Madison Square with what the Bloomberg architecture critic James S. Russell calls “huge, multifloor gashes hacked out of its tubular form.”

“Were it to be built, it would be a crude and unavoidable reminder of the horrors of 9/11,” Russell writes.

Libeskind tells Russell that it’s a preliminary design, and, no, he’s not trying to evoke 9/11. Instead, he wants to “extend the greenery of Madison Square Park into the sky, and make every apartment, a penthouse,” Russell writes.

Oh good, just what we need. More penthouses.


This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 5, 2009

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