Kimmelman says “flawed” One World Trade is a “cautionary tale”

Architecture East Media Newsletter Skyscrapers
One World Trade. (Flickr/ gigi_nyc)

One World Trade. (Flickr/ gigi_nyc)

New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has weighed-in on 1 World TradeNew York‘s tallest,most superlative, open-but-not-yet-completed skyscraper. And, spoiler, he is no fan. Kimmelman’s piece is so chock-full of quotable critiques, it’s hard to decide where exactly to begin. But let’s start with the politics.

One World Trade's spire. (Flickr / gigi_nyc)

One World Trade’s antenna. (Flickr / gigi_nyc)

“Like the corporate campus and plaza it shares, 1 World Trade speaks volumes about political opportunism, outmoded thinking and upside-down urban priorities,” wrote Kimmelman. “It’s what happens when a commercial developer is pretty much handed the keys to the castle.” He described the tower’s exterior as “opaque, shellacked, monomaniacal” and the overall design as “symmetrical to a fault.” The finished product is “an abbreviated obelisk.” As for the antenna, well, Kimmelman said counting that as part of the building’s total height is like “counting relish at a hot dog eating contest.”

Ultimately, he finds the building to be a frustrating failure—a bland building that could be anywhere on the globe, an office tower that gives next to nothing to the city it calls home. To Kimmelman, the failings of 1 World Trade should be a warning to New Yorkers. “The public had a big stake in making [1 World Trade] great,” he wrote. “That stake wasn’t leveraged. There are other giant projects like Hudson Yards, Penn Station and Roosevelt Island that will reshape the city’s streets and skyline. Their design is everyone’s business.”

ONE WORLD TRADE. (HENRY MELCHER / AN)

ONE WORLD TRADE. (HENRY MELCHER / AN)

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