Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Rebuild the World Trade Center!

Writing in City Journal, Nicole Gelinas argues for a change of plan in NYC for a memorial to 9/11. Instead of a new building and lugubrious visitor attractions-- rebuild the Twin Towers according to the proposed Twin Towers II plan, advocated by WTC 2011 (ht LGF):
On 9/11, al-Qaida murdered 2,974 people and destroyed two iconic office towers that dominated New York’s skyline, another lone office tower nearby, and some smaller support buildings. We can’t recover stolen lives. But what would it take to make New York physically whole again, while paying tribute to 9/11’s history and victims? One obvious answer is to build two iconic office towers that dominate New York’s skyline once again, surrounded by some smaller buildings. Notice that the one project that has achieved completion after 9/11—Silverstein’s Seven World Trade Center, the lone office tower near the main site—did so partly because Silverstein realized that al-Qaida’s attack wasn’t a mandate to reinvent the obvious. He simply built a more elegant tower to succeed what al-Qaida had destroyed, modernized for the twenty-first century in terms of safety and aesthetics and placed in a superior setting.

New York could take a similar approach with the rest of the site. New twin towers wouldn’t be the old ones; nobody can pretend that 9/11 never happened. They’d offer modern, sleek designs, as Seven World Trade Center does, and they’d be built to private-sector specifications. They’d need twenty-first-century, post-9/11 safety upgrades. The site would also need an appropriate memorial and well-designed public spaces.

It may not be too late to take this commonsense approach to rebuilding, which was never the puzzle the world’s great architects have made it out to be. For a truly breathtaking example of what New York could achieve at Ground Zero, take a look at what the late Herb Belton, an architect who worked on the original twin towers, and structural engineer Ken Gardner have proposed. Gardner, working first with Belton and then on his own since Belton died in 2005, has come up with twin towers that do far more than recreate the originals. “Using the original blueprints, [we’ve] re-engineered the design to recapture the Towers’ greatness, while diligently addressing their flaws,” Gardner says. “As a result, the design incorporates robust security, construction economy, and the greenest technology. The retail space is inviting, the commercial space is exceptional, and the outdoor spaces are a pedestrian-friendly oasis.” Gardner, always flexible, surely wouldn’t mind tweaks to his proposed towers so that they pay homage to the old ones without coming too close to replicating them. He also proposes that state officials allow residential condos in one of the new towers, as in the successful Time Warner Center, another set of twin towers uptown.
Rebuilding what your enemies destroy is War Propaganda 101--it's what the British did after the Nazis flattened the Houses of Parliament...and the Pentagon did after 9/11. The dithering and unseemly fighting over the money surrounding the World Trade Center project sends a very bad signal of weakness and disarray to America's adversaries. The empty lot is a victory for Terrorists. Putting something else there would be a victory for Al Qaeda ("Look Mom, we blew it up."). It signals fear...

IMHO, Rebuilding the Twin Towers is the way to show Osama Bin Laden: "Yes We Can!"