Tall Buildings and 9/11 Redux

Like many bloggers, I tend to write mostly off-the-cuff. As a result of that approach, I often post stuff that hasn’t been fully processed and analyzed, and occasionally a post lingers in my mind because I have doubts about assertions or conclusions or emotional reactions I’ve expressed.

However, I’m committed to this method, as I’ve come to believe that spontaneity is an essential part of the creative process, and self-censorship can be the death of spontaneity.

Besides, I can always follow up with an additional entry, to build on what I wrote initially, or I can just retract it altogether.

To illustrate, almost a year ago I wrote about my mixed feelings concerning the grand opening ceremony for Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. There were a few things that were unsettling to me about the event, but one thing had nothing to do with the structure itself: The fireworks display (see video embedded in my post).

I wrote at the time:

Am I crazy to think about 9/11 as I see explosions and smoke coming out of a very tall building?

Anyway, I posited something in that blog entry that I was actually uncomfortable with when I posted it, but I put it out there, only to have said lingering doubts nag at me for days and days, until the entry disappeared from the Home page as I moved on to other topics.

I wrote:

Despite my non-adversarial attitude towards Islam, the design of that fireworks display, to me, so uncannily evokes 9/11 that I can’t help wondering, watching that video, to what extent this building was built, at least partly, to exude an air of superiority, flaunting their achievement, as the smoke from the fireworks clears and there it is, still standing.

While I have come to reject the notion that evoking 9/11 was the intent of the promoters, I still don’t think I was wrong to think of 9/11 when I watched the video of the fireworks display.

I was raised in New Jersey, a short bus or train ride from New York City, I’d been to the top of the World Trade Center a number of times throughout my childhood, and one of the fondest memories I have is riding on the Staten Island Ferry as it approached lower Manhattan, the skyscrapers impossibly rising from that sliver of an island, most prominent of which were the Twin Towers, growing larger and larger the closer we sailed to the terminal.

The trauma of 9/11 manifested in a wide variety of ways, severity in the case of the families of the victims and the survivors, incredibly disturbing for New Yorkers, and deep, deep sadness for people like me, for whom the World Trade Center was an indelible icon.

Therefore, I can understand why some people reacted the way they did when they saw this architectural rendering of a proposed building in Seoul, South Korea (via Inhabitat):

I do want to believe the architects when they say that they had no intention of evoking 9/11 when they designed this building, AND I think they’ve done the right thing in apologizing for how the design was disturbing to some people.

However, it does strike me as somewhat alarming that anyone could NOT have thought about 9/11 when they came up with this design. How could they be so clueless as to not see the connection? Or, alternately, how could they be so utterly insensitive to have seen the connection and yet decide to move forward with it. The fact that it was a team of people, not just one architect, who worked on this and then green-lighted the release of the image makes it all the more difficult to accept.

But all that said, 9/11 didn’t effect everyone as much as it affected me. I never look at a skyscraper without thinking about it, and sadly I don’t think that will ever change.

2 thoughts on “Tall Buildings and 9/11 Redux

  1. I am with you on this one F&B.. I saw this today and was absolutely mortified…. I am not American. I live in the Uk but like many around the world watched as the horror unfolded.
    It is simply inconcievable to me that any intelligent person would not immediately make the connection…it is unavoidable as the image is so similar…
    Shame on them I say !

  2. I’m afraid it may be the case for many years that Any pair or grouping of buildings which are very very tall will evoke memories. A plane flying near a building will bring on memories. Having memories is ok it, is the reaction to those memories that can be troublesome.

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