Alas, it is.
Like the corporate campus and plaza it shares, 1 World Trade speaks volumes about political opportunism, outmoded thinking and upside-down urban priorities. It’s what happens when a commercial developer is pretty much handed the keys to the castle. Tourists will soon flock to the top of the building, and tenants will fill it up. But a skyscraper doesn’t just occupy its own plot of land. Even a tower with an outsize claim on the civic soul needs to be more than tall and shiny.
I find myself picturing General MacArthur in aviator sunglasses when I see the building. Its mirrored exterior is opaque, shellacked, monomaniacal. An abbreviated obelisk, the building rises to 104 stories atop a square, 20-story, concrete bunker, only partly disguised behind butterflylike louvered glass panels. The tower’s thick, chamfered corners produce octagonal floors and a facade of steep, interlocked triangles. From north, south, east and west, the building looks the same.
It abruptly stops at 1,368 feet, the height of the former twin towers, achieving its symbolic target number — 1,776 feet — by virtue of a skinny antenna. Counting the antenna is like...
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