Quote of the Day: ‘Smoke & Mirrors’

(photo by Paul Clemence, via)

“One of the hallmarks of American polity is the increasing pervasiveness of so-called “public-private partnerships” and with them the idea that public space must pay for itself directly, that a park must have a café or a condo in it to cover its costs. At Ground Zero, the melding of memory and profit will, in fact, be the “theme” of the site. As the disproportion between the gigantic exclusionary skyscrapers, the hemmed-in memorial, the pay-to-enter museum, and the upmarket shops in Towers 2, 3, and 4 makes legible, it will be a record of much that is wrong, ungenerous, and crass about American culture today. And I keep wondering when the pious rage that thwarted the proposed Islamic center nearby will turn on the cadre of halal kebab carts that dot the periphery of the site.”

Michael Sorkin in the September 2011 issue of Architectural Record. Punches aren’t held, as one can expect from Sorkin – and it’s much appreciated, in the midst of the love-fest that’s going on due to the 10th anniversary. While we take the time to reflect on the meaning of 9/11 ten years later – what has changed, what (maybe unfortunately) hasn’t – I think it’s important to recognize that opportunities were missed when it comes to the redevelopment of the site. Unlike Sorkin I never hoped for the site to be left empty – that seems both unrealistic and defeatist, not to mention anti-urban – but I had hoped for something to be excited about. I understand that this is the real world, not a fantasy, and developers have money in mind before much else – as they should, I suppose – but these are special circumstances, and we aren’t receiving particularly ‘special’ buildings in return. If these towers were placed on another site, in another city (which they easily could be), we wouldn’t be discussing them as great additions to global skyscraper design. Might not be discussing them at all.

.:read the full editorial here -> Smoke and Mirrors

Posted: September 11th, 2011
at 7:44pm by orangemenace

Categories: architecture,quote of the day,memorial,criticism

Comments: 2 comments


2 Responses to 'Quote of the Day: ‘Smoke & Mirrors’'

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  1. I don’t want to get too political at this time of remembrance, but consider this project within the context of our current national politics – neuter the Federal government and let the ‘free market’ (a myth in the first place, really) handle itself. One WTC is a Capitalist response to a situation that required more. I’m a fan of the memorial itself, but the memorial doesn’t make it okay that the new towers would be so easily forgettable if built elsewhere.

    Just look at the same issue of ArchRecord you’ve quoted here – this is far from the best project featured from New York in recent years.

    NYC deserves better. It deserved something to remind the world what a great and resilient city it is – not a boring tower with its foundation literally based in fear (that bunker of a base).

    And some of the comments on ArchRecord are absurd – as if Sorkin is somehow disrespecting the memories of those who died by daring to critique what’s being built. Sheep! 9/11 should be anything but a reason for us to all step in line and keep our opinions to ourselves. Thank you Michael Sorkin!

    Not Enough

    11 Sep 11 at 7:54 pm


  2. Free Market , Politics , 9/11 Terrorism – The Humans are going crazy the last 50 years. Why because we become more and more ignorant about the world


    10 Dec 11 at 1:23 pm



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