New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman has weighed-in on 1 World Trade, New 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.
“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.”