Freedom Tower’s Security Concerns Shouldn’t Kill Street Life

I agree with Mr. Speck on the lack of sensitivity to urban context shown in the proposed base for the redesigned Freedom Tower. [“The Freedom Tower: ‘An Alienating Monument to Surrender.’] The planners of the 9/11 attacks have achieved their objective, if this design is any indication. Out of fear, our urban designers have gone into siege mode and handed over the reins of design to the security professionals. No one will want to use any public space next to a 20-story blank wall, no matter how many hi-tech special effects are built into it.

The designers and developers of the Freedom Tower at least should fill the first 20-30 feet of the tower with retail or art display space. It should also be no issue to order security-hardened outdoor seating, bollards, and planters to enliven the space around the base of the tower. Such street furniture is routinely specified for new or renovated federal buildings in the Washington, D.C. area.

A monument that befits the memory of the people killed on 9/11/01 should transform the urban space around it, as well as the skyline formerly occupied by the Twin Towers. Plopping a tower on top of what looks like a Baghdad “Green Zone” military-bunker-on-steroids is simply not going to produce a living urban environment around the building. And isn’t that the point? Aren’t we looking to produce a project that will catalyze the revitalization of the Lower Manhattan community?

This isn’t the Pentagon, folks. And the WTC towers didn’t exactly sit in a lively urban space, either. It was a bare, wind-blown plaza. Can we get it right this time?

William Washburn, AICP
Planner Coordinator, Strategic Planning Section
Community Planning Division
Prince Georges County Planning Department
The Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning Commission
Upper Marlboro, Maryland


I agree whole-heartedly with Mr. Speck! This country is taking the wrong lesson out of the tragedies of 9/11. The answer is not to change the philosophy of society or design out of fear. This new Freedom Tower design embodies those sentiments, and I am equally disgusted by the blatant surrender of basic design principles to this new, paranoid need for a false sense of security.

Catherine Hailey
Hailey Design
Alexandria, Virginia


Right on! A bunker design is antithetical to the concept of the Freedom Tower. They should have gone with Libeskind’s original design instead of this ugly, bulky, dopey, market- and security-driven version. What ever happened to America, land of the free and home of the brave?

Adam Light
San Francisco Planning Department
San Francisco, California

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