Tall, sure, but how will they look?

By James Gardner | October 18, 2010 04:30PM

Separating the aesthetics from the ethics of the giant skyscrapers coming to Manhattan

From left: 15 Penn Plaza and One World Trade Center

From the October issue: As you may recall, several years ago, in the aftermath of 9/11, skyscrapers were thought to be a thing of the past. Developers, reflecting the mood of the people at large, were confident that no one would ever wish to rent floor space on one of the upper stories of a truly tall building. In the heated debate surrounding what should be built at ground zero, solicitous souls implored architects to design far lower buildings — 45 stories at the most — lest we seem to provoke the ire of terrorists, or tempt fate through our architectonic hubris. That was then. Now, developers are once again vying to see who can raise the loftiest towers in the greatest hurry. Even at ground zero, One World Trade, formerly known as the Freedom Tower and initially conceived by Daniel Libeskind, is already rising. Libeskind’s design has been fundamentally reworked by the far more conventional firm of Skidmore Owings & Merrill, which betrayed the deconstructivist style for which Libeskind is known by reasserting (probably for the better) the sort of staid symmetry for which SOM is known. [more]