…If this is a potentially fascinating work of architecture, it is, sadly, fascinating in the way that Albert Speer’s architectural nightmares were fascinating – as expressions of the values of a particular time and era. The Freedom Tower embodies, in its way, a world shaped by fear.

At a recent meeting at his Wall Street office in New York, Childs tried to deflect this criticism by enveloping the building in historical references. The height of the tower will match the height of the tallest of the former World Trade Center Towers – 1,368 feet – which will re-establish its relationship to the nearby World Financial Center, which was built at exactly half that height. The fortress-like appearance of the base was inspired by the Strozzi Palace in Florence, the relationship between the base and the soaring tower by Brancusi’s “Bird in Space.”

But the tower has none of the lightness of Brancusi’s polished bronze form, let alone its sculptural beauty. And the Strozzi Palace’s blank stone facade is beautiful because it is a mask: Once inside, you are confronted with a courtyard flooded with light and air, one of the great architectural treasures of the Renaissance.

What the tower evokes, by comparison, are ancient obelisks, blown up to a preposterous scale and clad in heavy sheaths of reinforced glass – an ideal symbol for an empire enthralled with its own power, and unaware that it is fading.
Full: iht.com

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