Monday, February 23, 2009


Have been reading the huge new Taschen book on Tadao Ando, and on page 447 is –

his GROUND ZERO PROJECT, a proposal for what to put where the World Trade Center used to be. No one asked Ando for his input. No one as far as I know paid any attention to his idea.

There were, of course, dozens of conceptions and plans and models, culminating in the "Freedom Tower" that actually began to go up in 2006, a monstrous ugly design. In fact all the designs in serious consideration looked about equally bad – equally offensive, equally arrogant, equally kitsch.

Ando could have done the job with dignity and compassion. Big surprise that he was never in the running.

"As the drawing makes clear, the proposal for Ground Zero is essentially a small section of a massive subterranean globe. The emergent section clearly suggests that most of the globe is not visible, but can only be sensed."

"If we are to fill the void at the site of the lost World Trade Center, it should not be with architecture, but with a 'place' to remember and reflect on events. I propose creating a memorial tomb. In section the tomb is a segment, one sixth of a circle, whose radius is one thirty thousandth of that of the earth, the height of this landscape being about 30 meters above ground level, the visible section of a great sphere. I think that what we need now is the courage to construct nothing more."

Philip Jodidio, author of the Ando book, dryly comments that the architect is not so naive as to imagine that "the very valuable land where the Center stood" could be permanently deprived in this way of its income-producing potential. Ando knows all too well that "the courage to construct nothing more" is exactly the form of courage Americans singularly lack.