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is a freelance writer and biologist in Cambridge, Mass. Mr.
Johnson holds a Doctorate in Molecular and Cellular Biology
from Baylor College of Medicine. He is a frequent opinion contributor
Events Online. His website can be found at macjohnson.com [go
to Johnson index]
Twin Towers Boldly--Not Just One
[Mac Johnson] 5/20/05
You and the
other people responsible for deciding the future identity of
World Trade Center Site have one of the most
unenviable tasks imaginable. You are in charge of the most emotionally
charged piece of ground in America. It cannot be allowed to sit
empty for practical reasons, and it must not be allowed to remain
lifeless for moral reasons. Yet anything you do with the site
may disappoint or anger some portion of the people who feel a
deep connection to the place –which is to say, the entire
country. Whatever you decide to do with the site, please know
that you have my sincere hope that it will be enormously successful
and beneficial to our country.
now that the current plan for the site –the Freedom
Tower-- has been forced by security concerns to enter a period
of significant delay and redesign (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/04/wtc.rebuilding/index.html),
please consider again an alternative to this plan: build back
twin towers in place of the two that were knocked down. There
would be nothing more inspirational to our people, and nothing
more disheartening to our enemies than to see two towers reborn
on the site; not simple reproductions of the flawed and dated
designs –but grander towers, taller than the originals,
technologically more impressive, and visually more imposing.
Call the twins Defiance and Inspiration, if you like, because
those are the twin emotions the site should embody.
I recognize that dedicated effort from many talented and well-intentioned
people has gone into designing the Freedom Tower, both as a business
enterprise and a memorial symbol. But the concept has two deep
flaws that will handicap its chances of succeeding as a symbol.
It may overcome these handicaps, but why add them unnecessarily
to such an already difficult mission?
the Freedom Tower is a single tower. No matter what else is
with the design, this symbolic deficiency is
glaring and inherent. Within months of the completion of the
Twin Towers, taller buildings were erected, but the towers remained
wonders long after the title of world’s tallest building
was taken from them –because they were twin towers. Impossibly
big, twice, they magnified each other’s greatness. Most
cities and most nations, could only dream of building the world’s
tallest building. New York and America decided to build it twice
on the same lot. Imagine that only one tower –identical
to the two we knew-- had been built on the site. Would it have
had even half the effect? The day it became the second tallest
building in the world, would it still have inspired so much pride?
much of the structure of the Freedom Tower is empty --a steel
ornament perched atop a much smaller single
tower. “The World Trade Center” is an ambitious name.
The Twin Towers lived up to it –and that is why they were
attacked. They were global in significance. They were beehives
of financial activity. They were such potent symbols because
they were not merely symbolic. Like the Pentagon and the Capitol,
they were seats of real power, filled to the top with energetic
tenants. They did not wear empty hats to claim their heights.
Two towers of 110 stories each are being replaced by a single
tower that –despite its vacuous tiara-- has only 60-70
stories of usable office space. Pushing empty latticework and
a well-lighted antenna 1776 feet into the sky is impressive,
but it’s nothing like putting people in the sky to overlook
the world that looks up at them.
have sent probes to the moon. America sent men. The difference
don’t you think?
It is not too late to fill the sky with men and women, to fill
the site with twins that stand guard at each others side --that
speak more powerfully than any words that America cannot be injured
but for a brief moment, and that she grows always greater.
a failed culture that could never have built the towers or
jets that knocked them down sought to lower
us, so that they might believe they are our equals. Please consider
carefully your response to them. Show them that they must rise
to our level –for we will never decline to theirs.
The greatest memorial that could be built to the Twin Towers
and the dead they entombed, is to rise again to the sky in impossible
parallel. Two towers of 111 stories is the least we should strive
for. The Twin Towers are a symbol more powerful than any we could
seek to invent to memorialize them. Make them live again.
Contact information for readers wishing to reach Mr. Silverstein:
Silverstein Properties, Inc.
530 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10036
2005 Mac Johnson