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The Architecture of Fear

MsExPat's picture

On the construction of the new World Trade Center complex in New York. From NYMagazine:

The sparkling finial that will top off One World Trade may eventually come to define it on the skyline, but extra-dense concrete is far more suggestive of what this building really is. Every inch of the tower, from subbasements on up, is braced against an imagined future attack.

Its chunky base, twenty stories tall, is dramatically armored—or “hardened,” the builders say. Heavy reinforced walls at street level extend outward and underground, making even the plaza explosion-resistant. The glass outer skin of One World Trade—blast-tested, successfully, out in the New Mexico desert—will hang on extra-heavy steel. That structure surrounds an inner, slightly less hefty frame that holds up floors and the rest of the interior. That, in turn, houses an elevator core, its walls up to eight feet thick, made of that super-dense concrete and packed with steel rebar as thick as your wrist. In its current raw state, it looks like the containment dome over a nuclear reactor, except with slots for turnstiles.

In the past, the difficulty of building in New York—even on sites as challenging as downtown Manhattan—was of local origin: the density of our urban grid, the egos of our power players, the grind of our bureaucracy. But the architecture and infrastructure of fear brings a new layer of complexity, one that stems from global forces and is largely beyond our ability to resolve. While ground zero may be an especially alluring terrorist target, we have moved into an age where every part of a major building is shaped by security plans, from truck inspections at the parking garage to airport-style screening at observation-deck gates. In this sense, One World Trade is the city’s future.

I refuse to accept that the "architecture of fear" is an appropriate response to something that is--and I don't accept this either-- "largely beyond our ability to resolve."

And I don't want to live in this kind of city, not in New York or anywhere.

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