The great Freedom Tower folly

Almost eight years after the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the Freedom Tower is finally under construction. There is a good chance, however, that it might all be in vain.

In 2002, architect Daniel Libeskind initially designed the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, so dubbed by then N.Y. governor, George Pataki.

Since the original proposal, the plan has undergone numerous redesigns in order to appease safety regulations and engineering guidelines. The building is just one of four brand new skyscrapers that are now in the midst of construction at the World Trade Center site, all of which are overseen by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation at a cost of nearly $10 billion.

The unfortunate aspect of this story is that the final design still does not satisfy all of the major security issues and, according to engineers and architects around the country, the upper portion of the building will be impossible to build. It seems like the only reason the project was passed was because of public anxiety and the fact that Pataki wanted to approve the project before he got out of office.

Libeskind's design calls for a 1,362-foot usable structure with an additional 414-foot glass spire that symbolizes the duality between our strength and fragility. Despite how wonderful this may sound on paper, it is virtually impossible to build because glass cannot support its own weight to such a degree.

The result of this engineering blunder will be a building that will rise to a height of 1,362 feet and stop when the contractors realize that they cannot build anymore. The only thing left will be a decent-looking building that contains less than half the amount of office space as the World Trade Center towers with an observation deck almost 100 feet lower.

This case of architectural idiocy only reflects the unfortunate truth about the direction of architectural design. With the development of new computer software programs like Automatic Computer Aided Design, the prospect of designing a skyscraper is highly accessible. Any architect can teach him or herself the program and design an amazingly beautiful building without having to know anything about engineering.

The fact of the matter is that there should be a new building on the World Trade Center site and it should have been built three years ago. There should never have been the hasty and uneducated choice of an impractical design. As a result, designers and contractors who spent four years trying to finalize the design will now spend five more years trying to build it, despite the fact that it may not even be possible in the first place.

I cringe when I consider that in this day and age it is taking so long to build the Freedom Tower when in 1930 it took a mere 410 days to complete the Empire State Building.

Michael Pintauro is a sophomore English major who sees through the Freedom Tower.

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