The other three towers—1WTC, 4WTC, and 7WTC—work well enough by emphasizing streamlined shapes over ornament; what they lack in personality, they make up for in dignity. (This is despite a flaw or two—namely, 1WTC’s value-engineered antenna and issues with window cleaning.) They succeed as a group not because they’re interesting, but because they’re alike, and if the overall effect is chilly, that was unavoidable for an office park built around a memorial.
Whatever harmony the first three towers achieved is at risk by the relatively graceless 3WTC. Its design is void of rhyme or reason, with asymmetrical ledges on the north and south sides and an offset base. Depending on where you’re standing, you could be looking at two different buildings: The north and south façades have vertical metal lines creating stripes of two widths, while the east and west have exposed metal framing. The base has little in common with what’s above, and from street level, dark bands of mechanical vents and protruding tailpipes draw most of the attention. As if there wasn’t already enough frippery, the top (rendering above) looks like it might involve a fence.
The overall World Trade Center site plan doesn’t help: 3WTC and 4WTC are too close together, and from many angles, they appear to be one Frankenstein’s monster of a building. Once 2WTC is built, four motley buildings (2WTC, the Oculus, 3WTC, and 4WTC) will be lined up in a row, and the only decent view of the Oculus—an expensive folly, but the World Trade Center’s most iconic building—will be from the 9/11 Memorial. The challenges of the project were obviously huge, and yet, walking around with so much of it finished, you can’t help but think that an opportunity has been missed.