In the News: The “Vapid Monumentality” of the World Trade Center

••• Elle Decor has a slideshow of a Tribeca apartment. I don’t think there’s quite enough there (or at least visible in the very bright light) to warrant a Loft Peeping post, but it’s still worth checking out. Also, much of the decor is from mainstream stores—West Elm, CB2, etc.—which is rare. (Photo by Kelly Stuart.)

••• A review of the new sculpture show at City Hall Park. —New York Times

••• A review of 2 World Trade Center: “Although Mr Ingels’s design pares back the formulaic primness of the earlier towers he has failed to triumph over the respectful but vapid monumentality enforced at the WTC site. The acres of glass are an unrelenting, utterly exhausted design stratagem, here just senselessly reflecting back reflections of reflections.” —The Economist

••• The New York Post says that Industry Kitchen, the new 300-seat restaurant under the FDR Drive, is a Merchants Hospitality restaurant that’s actually good.

••• “For two-and-half hours each day, Peck Slip the street will belong to Peck Slip the school. P.S. 343, aka the Peck Slip School, will open this September in its new building on Peck Slip, between Pearl and Water Streets, and the city Department of Transportation has agreed to close the street to traffic during drop-off and pick-up times.” —Tribeca Trib



  1. “Vapid monumentality.” I thought that referred to the memorial.

  2. Monumental 1WTC from certain locations can be seen reflected in 4WTC glass. You can see the it very clearly, and there is no “reflecting back reflections of reflections”. In fact, it is quite an impressive sight.

  3. What Heather says. Late afternoon to evening the reflections are great.

  4. The entire site is a monument to Big Real Estate’s greed, and the utter unresponsiveness of the City government to the wishes of people who actually live in this city. The story of how it got to be that way has been told over and over again in books and articles, one bad decision after another. Many downtown fought for a better site plan and a better memorial and better architecture, all to no avail. The site has turned out to be a kind of permanent wound to the city, useless to those who live here, an insult to the historic city nearby, filled with tourists oohing and aahing over skyscrapers because their own suburban lives are so dull. It is the corporate architecture of death, in the words of Christopher Alexander, the great architectural theorist, and it is also the architecture of extinction, as the stegosaurus testifies. It is the anti-Jane Jacobs site, providing no humanity in any part of it, the dark, disturbing, biblical waters of the memorial being sucked back into a hole in the ground presumably to the Hudson and not hell ltself. It’s internal confusion and jumble is apocalyptic, it’s only virtue on certain rain-cloudy days is that from a good distance, the assembled glass appears to float above the city in a weird painting of sky and clouds, an evil angel suspended above the true urban reality, beckoning us to heaven perhaps? Beckoning us to Oz, more likely, so that we can discover that the developers behind the curtain have built an ecological monstrosity built to last about 20 years before it has to be rebuilt, meanwhile using up so much carbon to cool and heat itself that it should make any global warming worrier shudder with despair. It’s imposed vision of modernity turns us into pillars of salt, unable to flee that vision, unable to turn our eyes backward to stop staring at it, for its monstrous size imposes itself on our eyes, forcing us to look. “I am the architect’s vision of modernity” it screeches, “and you must submit to me, and there can be no other reality, submit, submit, submit…”

  5. 4 WTC is a gorgeous building. I wish the neighboring buildings in the complex had taken more inspiration from its design. I am afraid the monstrous WTC 2 may block our view from the north of this beauty.

    • I worry about that too, since I love to see 4 WTC and it’s constantly changing colors and reflections.

    • I could not agree more about 4 WTC. I’ve studied it a bit and it’s an exemplary building. Although I rarely find myself in agreement with Ms. Ellsworth (her passions always admirable though) her evocation of the architectural gibberish most of the site speaks in, along with the important point about it having nothing to do with the needs and aspirations of actual New Yorkers, are well expressed. I almost wish that Mr. Maki had never taken the commission. The site is undeserving of his work.

    • But isn’t 3 going to block your view before 2 does?