Childs vs. Durst: WTC’s Stripped Spire Stokes Controversy

East Newsletter
The SOM spire at left and the Durst/Port replacement at right. (Courtesy SOM/Durst)

The SOM spire at left and the Durst/Port replacement at right. (Courtesy SOM/Durst)

The Durst Organization and the Port Authority have decided to abandon designs for what they once assured the public would be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and architect David Childs of SOM is fighting back. By stripping away the sculptural finishes designed by SOM with artist Kenneth Snelson the developers and the Port may no longer qualify for the tallest title bestowed by the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the body that tallies and ranks building heights.

In today’s New York Times a spokesperson for the Council said that the galvanzized steel replacement would probably be interpreted as an antenna and not a spire and would not qualify as part of the building structure. Besides losing the title, the developers will also arguably be pulling one of the most significant works of art from the site. Douglas Durst told The Wall Street Journal that the spire should have been designed better as it will cost too much to maintain. “It’s not the end of the world,” he told the paper. To the Times he indicated the utilitarian replacement should work just fine: “I try not to get involved with the aesthetics. We’re here to discuss how it’s built and how it’s maintained.”

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