Snøhetta rides again

As I wrote in a previous post, the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta won the contract for the WTC memorial "Freedom Center." They have now unveiled the plans for the building, and it looks beautiful (look at the slideshow on the NY Times page). A large, but spacious and open building made mostly of wood and glass. The NY Times critic is generous, but critical of certain aspects of the building.

Interestingly, I was apparently wrong on a number of points in the previous post, since the building is both large and has the word "Freedom" in the name. This is mostly due to unexpected political problems with the contractors, but that's okay, because they've managed to convey their unmonumental approach all the same.

I think it's interesting that the NY Times critic is highly skeptical of the fact that, after taking the lift to the top of the building, one is forced to take a long, spiraling walk down a spiral path inside the building's light well. He thinks of it as a removal of freedom of the visitor, and even calls it "totalitarian." I think the symbolism of this walk is highly appropriate. I read it as being simultaneously a criticism of the erosion of civil rights and the respect for human rights under a US administration which claims to celebrate freedom (a spiraling descent into unfreedom caused by the fall from the top - that is, the fall of the towers), and a reminder of the neccesity of - and conditions for real freedom: work, dedication and having the ability to think and work in the long term. The building seems to say that freedom is not easily won, which seems appropriate.


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