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Sadly, the wisdom of these two works has not rubbed off on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in New York. There, more than seven years after the Twin Towers were destroyed, the public and private bodies involved in the site are still wrangling over fundamental aspects of the reconstruction. Two of the mighty towers planned for the site are in danger of being shrunk to a mere 25 storeys. The astoundingly expensive National September 11 Memorial & Museum has had its projected completion put back so that it is now due to be finished, just in time for the tenth anniversary of 9/11, in 2011.
The Freedom Tower, the emblem of the rebuilding, is now rising towards its symbolically significant height of 1,776 feet (to recall the year of independence), and it is due for completion in 2014, but it has lost its resonant name. It was recently announced that it would be called One World Trade Center for marketing reasons. 'We will ensure that the building is presented in the best possible way,' said the chairman of the Port Authority, which is building it, evidently believing that commercial tenants would rather not rent space in a symbol. The news has provoked outrage: 'Freedom is out of fashion at Ground Zero,' said the New York Post.
The reconstruction of Ground Zero,in other words,once intended as a defiant riposte to terrorists, as a demonstration of the invincible might of American freedom, has turned into something else. It is now a demonstration of the baroque manoeuvres in which New York specialises when it comes to large-scale construction schemes. It shows what can happen when political, commercial and architectural egos tangle.