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4. Peter Eisenman
Eisenman Architects
New York, New York
 
 
 
   
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SHATTERING VISION: Although Eisenman proposes familiar-looking towers, the spaces between them suggest shards of glass restored in dreamlike streams.

Peter Eisenman, a New York architectural theorist known for radically challenging the design and planning of buildings and cities, embarks on the World Trade Center plan with a metaphor: If architecture is a mirror of society, the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11 shattered the narcissistic reflection. He proposes transforming that idea into a permanent structure. The footprints of the towers remain as visible traces within a complex that is simultaneously building, memorial, and landscape. High-rise towers ring the site, but the imprint of the lost skyscrapers generates a turbulent flow outward. (An alternative interpretation is that the towers are flowing back, or receding toward, their point of origin.) The complex embodies the notion of simultaneous construction and destruction. Architecturally, the towers are surprisingly conventional inside, with standard elevator cores and floor plates. They present familiar façades to the surrounding city. Where they fold into the ground, however, they create a rich variety of flowing spaces that can accommodate many uses, including an opera house and the New School University (Eisenman worked on the scheme with New School president Bob Kerrey, who acted as client).

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