by Tammy Tillotson
According to discussions at the annual fall meeting of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) held in Boston, Massachusetts on October 3-6, 2001, rebuilding the World Trade Center is already in the preliminary planning stages.
As rebuilding is now a near certainty, the question becomes whether or not the World Trade Center should be rebuilt precisely as it was before, or should it be something entirely different?
A Not So Simple Answer
To answer this, it is necessary to consider human nature in constructing and reconstructing important architectural symbols, because conscious efforts can be employed to incorporate key core values and ideas represented by the original form of the World Trade Center. It is also important to consider the fact that there are many individuals with opposing ideas and beliefs that the towers should either not be rebuilt in the same location; the towers should be rebuilt exactly as they were before; or the location should be devoted entirely to a memorial park. Addressing the intellectual and architectural reasons why these ideas are unfeasible will help individuals with differences of opinion to understand, accept, and hopefully support future construction endeavors.
As discussion of rebuilding continues, the creation of four new towers is a possibility that addresses intellectual, architectural, and symbolic reasons as to why this is the best solution.
Creating and Recreating Symbolic Structures
When an important structural representation of consciousness is destroyed, it’s primarily a human necessity to recreate the symbolism that was represented by that structure. A tangible object can be destroyed, and though it may not be entirely possible to rebuild an identical structure to house that symbolism, a new symbol can emerge with even greater significance if it is molded in honor of the first archetype. This has occurred throughout history as patterns of consciousness emerge, and the necessity of rebuilding the World Trade Center will certainly be demonstrative of that concept.
Through relationships with the media, associations, the conventional, the unconventional, and also by accident, many events have occurred at the World Trade Center that have shaped its novelty and importance as a cultural symbol. Symbols represent a visible sign of the invisible, and the World Trade Center has become an established representation for something other than a mere building or an ideal postcard image.
A building is simply a building, yet a symbol is a conscious manifestation of what people believe the symbol represents. The building itself housed meaningful functions essential to the existence and proliferation of world trade commerce. Yet the people, ideas, values, and community that existed beyond the interior and exterior aspects of the building truly portrayed the pride of American prosperity and preservation.
Within the Twin Towers, a nation that is no stranger to the duality of nature, faced hardship, animosity, peril and prejudice while never faltering to exhibit the importance of freedom and the value of striving to share that with the rest of the world. Without a dedicated group of people working toward accomplishing those common goals the World Trade Center would indeed have been regarded as a mere inanimate object, instead of the personification of living diversity that is has come to represent.
Rebuild Exactly as it Was
Since the historical symbolism of the Twin Towers has forever been reshaped by the terrorist attacks, it will never be humanly possible to rebuild an identical structure that will represent an identical meaning. Acknowledging the impossibility of rebuilding an exact replication yields a more logical solution in making an intellectual decision regarding rebuilding a new and improved structure.
As innovations in architecture yield the ability to create increasingly tall buildings, the evident vulnerability of the structures themselves invites questions as to whether or not this is actually a good idea. The terrorist attacks illuminated the extensive vulnerability of the World Trade Center while offering the world firsthand knowledge of the dramatic effects that result from crippling iconic architectural structures within a country. The threat of terrorists replicating this tactic in the future should have more than a little relevance to future design decisions. Architectural structures are, after all, entirely dependent on the material.
Considering that architectural perspective, the original World Trade Center design has historically proven economically inefficient and problematic. The issues of energy consumption and dense traffic around the towers have resulted in much discussion since the building was conceived.
Fire safety precautions will ultimately become more important in the future, as under intense heat steel supports can weaken and bend, which, in turn, yields a domino effect of falling floors. This was relevant to the actual collapse of the towers.
The architectural design of the World Trade Center was not particularly conducive to quickly evacuating 110 stories of people when the necessity arose. If people are expected to work in a towering structure, then it is only fair to work more diligently at ensuring and providing their safety.
Rebuild Somewhere Else Entirely
Rebuilding at a different location entirely is quite uneconomical. Since the 16 acres in downtown Manhattan represent one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in the world and a gaping space in the New York skyline, it is only logical to build some form of new structure at the site.
The destruction of the towers’ 10 million square feet of office space and 425,000 feet of retail space has resulted in fierce competition for rental and leased space within the downtown area. Overnight, prices of rental space jumped in anticipation of accommodating relocating merchants and other professionals.
The World Trade Center was the hub of world commerce, and it is unlikely that businesses will desire to relocate to the suburbs as business associates and activities are central to Manhattan. For competitive advantages and convenience it is necessary for businesses to continue to operate in this same area.
Turn Entire Area into A Memorial Park
A commendable human characteristic is found within the important and powerful value of self-preservation. When individuals sacrifice their lives so that other people might live, the sympathy that results yields a most sincere and heartfelt appreciation. Tributes are dedicated as a combination of expressing gratitude while ensuring that the sacrifice is remembered; thus preserving those same values for future generations. This is the heart of the argument to turn the entire site into a memorial park.
With sincere and admirable merit, that same notion of self-preservation encompasses another sense of morality. As survivors, there is also another moral obligation to preserve through reproduction. By preserving, embodying, and exemplifying the sacrifice of these heroes, heroism is also encouraged to reproduce itself.
To turn the entire area into a memorial park would fail to consider the moral obligation of preservation through reproduction. A true act of heroism will be reproduced through the creation of a new World Trade Center, which proudly displays the importance of the heroic sacrifices of past generations in order to encourage present and future generations to exemplify and remember similar ideals and values.
Creation of Four New Towers
Recreating the architectural design and symbolization of the World Trade Center largely requires Americans and New Yorkers to remember the importance of diversity regardless of adversity, along with the necessity of preservation and reproduction. A new symbolic building can emerge alongside a memorial, encompassing a memorial, or as part of the memorial itself.
However, ensuring that a structure of this design successfully demonstrates the symbolism portrayed by its predecessor will largely depend on the willingness of New Yorkers and Americans to enthusiastically embrace the idea.
Four smaller towers, each approximately 50 stories high, offer a solution that could provide similar office space. People would feel safer to work in this sort of environment, as after the terrorist attacks there are sure to be more than a few businesses a little leery of volunteering to work on the 110th floor. Obtaining adequate insurance coverage for rental space on higher level floors may also result in some new technicalities and expenses.
Smaller buildings would result in a more efficient fire safety and evacuation plan, and the World Trade Center would be a bit more protective from obvious past vulnerabilities. Recreation accomplished while preserving self-interest demonstrates intelligence, cleverness, and pride built on an unwavering foundation.
An important symbolic structure has been destroyed. Americans are left struggling to understand what direction offers the best way to illustrate to the world that despite tragedy, the foundations of our values are still affirmed in the plan to recreate the World Trade Center. Destruction calls for a time of reflection.
From two shadows of doubt, four pillars of strength can emerge.
The extent of our convictions and determinations can truly illuminated in the symbolic parallel that the creation of four new towers eloquently affirms.
The four cardinal directions of north, south, east and west supply humans with an understanding of where they are able to locate themselves too in reference to the rest of existence. The directions represent where all things are possible and where all things end, as the directions themselves form important crossroads.
New Yorkers, Americans, and the rest of the world face both visible and invisible crossroads as a direct result of an icon’s destruction.
As the sun rises in the east, and sets in the west, the horizon of Manhattan duels between dark clouds of despair, raindrop tears, rays of hope, and the promise of peaceful rainbows yet to come.
There are unanswerable questions found at all directions that are consistently being met with strong resilience, versatility, and adaptability. Tragic endings simultaneously yield infinite possibilities of new beginnings – all centrally located at one major historical crossroad where stability must be rebuilt from ground zero.