Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Baseline for Judging the WTC Designs

A recent conversation with other architects yielded many different opinions about how the World Trade Center redoux is going. Bloomberg's comments, the seven different clients, the lack of a public leader all have us wondering if it isn't slowly turning into an embarrassment.

One good observation we all could agree on was Ellisworth Kelly's small contribution. In 2003 he sent the New York Times architectural critic Herbert Muschamp an image of the entire site as a green, grass field. The image was powerful because the emptiness alluded to the terrible loss at the site in 2001. Although we could not describe how, we all felt that any intervention, skyscraper, museum, etc. should be judged against this standard.

Ironically, the establishing of a baseline implies a metric of emotional affects. As architects we've searched hundreds of years for such a metric, and sadly, this might be a lost cause or at least a Holy Grail. In this case, we all understand simple economics. The power or Kelly's proposal lies with the opportunity cost of realizing it. The opportunity cost of whatever is built at the WTC site is whatever else could have been build there, for that cash. The possibilities are almost endless, and for architects, we have to convince the world that what we imagine is worth that cost.


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