December 10, 2011

The South Korean buildings that look like the World Trade Center on 9/11.

"It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks... nor did we see the resemblance during the design process," but "I have to admit that we also thought of the 9/11 attacks."

ADDED: Assume the architects intended to allude to the 9/11 image. Why would they do that? It can't be to give offense! Why would that be effective, to refer to 9/11 as if you were happy about it? If this building deliberately evokes the WTC in a state of destruction, it can't be to approve of the destruction, because the architects must want people to love their building. The point would need to be something more like: We defy the terrorists of the world. We stand for building skyscrapers in defiance of the nihilists.

Negative images can be adopted and re-purposed in a positive way. To cite an obvious example: the crucifixion of Christ. A crucifix is not displayed celebrate the torture and execution of Jesus. We invariably and easily understand it as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.

So the building, if it indeed intentionally refers to the WTC, should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

40 comments:

Sorun said...

As the concept drawings matured, the architects knew they'd seen a similar design before. Just couldn't put their finger on it.

rhhardin said...

It's good for the offense-taking community.

traditionalguy said...

What's the complaint?

World Trade built Korea. Except the northern part where the Marxists like Obama control everything out of "fairness" to the dying slaves of the Party.

bagoh20 said...

I believe it was accidental, but that is exactly what you would get if it was intentional too.

Does that make it truly unique or derivative?

Charlie said...

@bagoh20 -- Derivative. See George Harrison / My Sweet Lord / He's so fine.

Ann Althouse said...

Assume it does allude to the 9/11 image. Why would they do that? It can't be to give offense! Why would that be effective, to refer in a negative way, as if you were happy about what happened to the WTC? If it is meant to evoke the WTC in a state of destruction, it would need to mean something other than approval of the destruction, since you want people to love your building. It would need to mean something more like: We defy the terrorists of the world. We stand for building skyscrapers in defiance of the nihilists.

A negative image can be adopted and re-presented in a positive way. To cite an obvious example: the crucifixion of Christ. To depict and display that is not to celebrate the torture and execution of Jesus. It became a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.

So the building, if it indeed intentionally refers to the WTC, should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

Rialby said...

Because South Koreans hate Americans. Especially South Koreans born after 1953.

Regina said...

Problem with the crucifix argument: early Christians didn't use it. I believe it was the shepherd figure that was a popular icon - crucifixion was just too real at the time. Crucifixes develop later to assist in making something that is distant real again. For reflection and empathy. Too soon for that for 9/11, I'm afraid.

Seeing Red said...

They thought they could get away with it.

Elle said...

"...interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization"

Fair enough, but I choose to interpret it as "tacky."

ricpic said...

Accidental most likely but stunning that no one on the team working on this project made the twin tower connection during the literally thousands of man-hours put in on this thing.

edutcher said...

Looks like somebody's Lego set barfed.

Rialby said...

Because South Koreans hate Americans. Especially South Koreans born after 1953.

More like '63, or even '73.

The ROKs were very good allies in 'Nam and fierce anti-Communists.

ic said...

I think they'd better scrap the plan. Koreans are as superstitious as us Chinese. When I looked at the picture, the first thing came to my mind was "Wow, eerie! I don't want to live there." Bad karma, bad fung-shui.

E.M. Davis said...

I order to achieve the effect they wanted to create, you would naturally need a second tower to support such a "bridge" I think it's accidental, but doing anything where structures expand upon one another in a tall building would resemble the collapsing towers.

Seven Machos said...

The architects are Dutch and have said the design alludes to the World Trade Center. My initial reaction was disgust but Althouse does make some decent points.

Peano said...

Next, a building in the shape of a mushroom cloud. Erect it in Hiroshima. What could go wrong?

Two words for the South Korean architects: focus groups.

Ann Althouse said...

"Problem with the crucifix argument: early Christians didn't use it. I believe it was the shepherd figure that was a popular icon - crucifixion was just too real at the time. Crucifixes develop later to assist in making something that is distant real again. For reflection and empathy. Too soon for that for 9/11, I'm afraid."

But my argument isn't about whether it's a good idea to evoke 9/11. My point is based on assuming that's what they did. Now: what were they trying to say? My argument is that they *must* have intended to repurpose it in a positive way.

Elle said...

I showed only the photo to my husband - no commentary or headline - his reaction: "are those supposed to be clouds?"

Maybe the architect should run with that.

Peano said...

My argument is that they *must* have intended to repurpose it in a positive way.

The same agrument was offered in defense of Serrano's "Piss Christ." Note how that turned out.

It is typical of a cloistered academic rationalist to reason from a few select premises to a pre-ordained conclusion.

Just try selling that on the retail empirical market and see how far you get.

Maguro said...

You're overthinking this, Althouse - it's just a bit of a publicity stunt. This thing will never get built.

The Dutch architectural firm gets credit for being "edgy" without actually having to deliver a buildable design. tge South Koreans get some buzz surrounding their proposed skyscraper farm. Everyone has a bit of fun tweaking American sensitivities and maybe they get to play the martyr if the US officially registers its disapproval and the ROK government pressures them to drop the design that they never really intended to execute anyway.

William said...

I don't think it's offensive so much as macabre. Why would anyone want to work in such a place? Are they going to market it to Al Queda sympathizers?

Lem said...

So the building, if it indeed intentionally refers to the WTC, should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

I agree.

Fen said...

what were they trying to say? My argument is that they *must* have intended to repurpose it in a positive way.

Then why are they pretending they didn't notice the similarity? Seems like if the intent was to "repurpose it in a positive way", then they wouldn't be ashamed to admit it.

Chip S. said...

So the building, if it indeed intentionally refers to the WTC, should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

I've bolded the only thing wrong with this statement.

It can just as readily be interpreted as a comment on the fragility of modern civilization in the face of barbarity.

Although Maguro's observation makes the most sense.

chuck said...

...reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

I'd rather see it as a reaffirmation of the degeneration of Dutch culture.

Peano said...

Althorse said: So the building ... should be interpreted as a reaffirmation of the greatness of modern civilization.

Chip S replied: I've bolded the only thing wrong with this statement.

Exactly. As is clear from reactions, most people instantly and emotionally interpreted the buildings' meaning and found it offensive.

Had the architects tried their design out on a few focus groups, they would have learned this and, if they had any sense, consigned their drawings to the garbage pail where they belong.

Now that it's out there and most viewers take offense, how likely do you think they would be to change their visceral reaction on the basis of a syllogism contrived by some law professor to tutor them on how they "should" feel?

You'll sooner see a squadron of pigs flying circles around buildings.

Dad29 said...

A crucifix is not displayed celebrate the torture and execution of Jesus. We invariably and easily understand it as a symbol of resurrection and eternal life.

Huh?

Do you have some sort of survey which backs that assertion?

Dad29 said...

@ Regina:

Early Christian representations were reminiscent of David, establishing the connection between Christ and that king.

Another very early one was of the fish (IX[Th]US), and there's another portraying Christ as the new Orpheus.

Yes, the shepherd, but there were others.

Peano said...

Do you have some sort of survey which backs that assertion?

That would have to be one doozy of survey, since it would have to find that "we" invariably and easily -- INVARIABLY and EASILY! -- understand the meaning of the crucifix as set forth in the Gospel according to St. Blondehouse.

I would have to search her threads to find one that beats this one for blondeness.

Oligonicella said...

You really do a lot of projecting onto society as a whole and then make statements of what we should do instead of statements of personal opinion, which is what you're actually promoting.

Smilin' Jack said...

A crucifix is not displayed [to] celebrate the torture and execution of Jesus.

It is if you're Jewish.

The Pagan Temple said...

Good point. That's the way I saw the design, not as a celebration of 9/11, but as a commemoration, I guess would be the right word.

Astro said...

It's belligerently ugly.

dbp said...

I rather like this design for a residential building. Or should it be buildings? Is it two that are joined in the middle or really one with a gap in the middle.

this view makes the middle part seem like a city in the clouds.

They could get rid of any call-back to 9-11 by making two joins--the one that is there and one higher up and offset so that it looks like two clouds passing the buildings.

ken in sc said...

The Republic of Korea has a love-hate relationship with the US. I lived there for two years one time They admire and absorb American popular culture, especially those parts that many Americans would loath to export. However, for many years, they lived under an authoritarian, semi-fascist government, that was supported by the US as being better than the communist government in the North. South Koreans assumed, rightly or wrongly, that every vicious and stupid thing their government did had the support and approval of the US. So, they love us, they are grateful for our support, and resent it because they need it. I think this is related to that dynamic.

ken in sc said...

I forgot to mention that when I was there, One of the most popular songs in Korea had the lyric "When the sun goes down on America, the sun comes up on Korea." It was not a geological reference.

ken in sc said...

But, it was sung in English.

Teri said...

edutcher said...
Looks like somebody's Lego set barfed.

Zing!

Alan said...

Redesign the building so it takes the shape of Todd Beamer strangling one of the hijackers.

Eric said...

Because South Koreans hate Americans. Especially South Koreans born after 1953.

Yep. The big international polling news this year, according to my local NPR station, is Pakistan's capture of first place in the ranking of national populations that most despise the US (with Japan on the other end, for obvious reasons).

I don't know why we have troops in Korea. The have a large enough economy to support a first rate military. Let them fend for themselves (along with Germany).