When Skidmore, Owings and Merrill stripped all of the excitement and inspiration from Daniel Liebeskind’s imagining of what 1 World Trade Center, or the “Freedom Tower,” would look like, they left a very utilitarian form of the German architect’s spire on top of the building. But instead of reaching triumphantly and diagonally for the sky, in a reflection of the raised arm of the Statue of Liberty, SOM’s spire was a vertical utility pole. They left it in so that the official height of the building could be a symbolic 1,776 feet — even though many of those feet would be inaccessible to humans — and so that the tower could support broadcast technology for up to ten local television stations. (Remember, after the Twin Towers fell, many of the broadcast systems were moved to the top of 4 Times Square, the home of Condé Nast and Skadden.) Now, though, the deal to carry the broadcasts has fallen through because of a national switch to digital from analog signals, the Observer reports.
This was a blow to the Port Authority, as it was counting on $20 million in construction costs from the broadcast agency, Metropolitan Television Alliance, plus an additional $10 million a year in rent. But a spire will nonetheless exist on the building when it is completed, whether in preparation for another broadcast client or for “an aesthetic function alone.”
It may be too late to put in the kind of tower Daniel Liebeskind envisioned, since the building itself is too sober and vertical. But it may not be too late to take something that our photography editor Everett noticed and run with it, conceptually. Has anyone else noticed that the 1 World Trade Center spire looks just like the horn of the rare Arctic narwhal?? Seriously, the possibilities are endless.