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Message - Re: WTC shortlist

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Posted by  d on September 28, 2002 at 10:13:09:

In Reply to:  WTC shortlist posted by Richard Haut on September 27, 2002 at 20:38:27:

Coming from graphic design, I have the luxury of thinking pretty much without practical constraints...

But let us step back...
The United States is young; New York City is only a little older, and changing...
So here are two questions-

(1) Is the Trade Center site really a "center"?

The city is growing and asuming a new shape; living on its current perimeter, I can see this...
As it changes shape, the center of "gravity" may be changing....
The epicenter of the city, for centuries, has been moving uptown;
at the moment it is closer, in my view, to Union Square ( so named , contrary to leftist belief, for the intersection of avenues, and perhaps Indian trails before that...)

Even before it was destroyed, the World Trade Center was already aesthetically a "dead" zone.
Artists who lived in the Tribeca area in the 'seventies and 'eighties, who lived practically next door to the WTC in streets like Lispenard- for them, the towers were already a remote, alien presence.

As a planting in landfill, perhaps, the site did not grow naturally from the underlying geology...
At any rate, the new city of New York is (as Robert Heinlein predicted) an essence covering a circle at least two hundred miles in diameter...

The sensation that one is designing for a site which is, in the long run, not really at the anthropological center- this may be what is sapping the spirit of design, why it is not drawing enough creative energy...

(2) Well, then if not a center of activity, is the site a "center" of symbolism?

This is an accepted point of convention- but is it really true?
On one hand, to New Yorkers the Wall Street area was indeed experienced through the symbolism of the towers, from Staten Island, New Jersey and Brooklyn.
Yet, on the other, I don't think the symbolic function of New York is any longer primarily felt visually by travellers the way it was in past centuries, when, for example, the first view of the New World might be the Statue of Liberty or the Port of New York...
Experience in the modern world is mediated through technologic lenses which approximate a metaphysical reality.
The virtual traveller approaches the new New World (related to, but not coexistent with, the old New World ) electronically, symbolically, theatrically, existentially....
Lenses sch as the Internet may obviate older symbolic functions (like the "tallest" building) ; so that the ultimate design, the one which has the biggest impact symbolically, could be modest, even invisible, in physical scale.

One of the most influential buildings in the world, after all, is a small cube...


 
 
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