Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle for the Future of Ground Zero
By Philip Nobel
Metropolitan Books, Hardcover, 9780805074949, 304pp.
Publication Date: December 23, 2004
A no-holds-barred look at the collision of interests behind the ambitious attempt to raise a new national icon at Ground Zero
When we stand in downtown Manhattan in the future and look up and ask, "Why?"-Why is it so strange, so rude, so striving, so right, so wrong?-we will have Sixteen Acres to give us the answers. Tracing the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site from graveyard to playground for high design, insurgent critic Philip Nobel strips away the hyperbole to reveal the secret life of the century's most charged building project.
Providing a tally of deceptions and betrayals, a look at the meaning of events beyond the pieties of the moment, and a running bestiary of the main players-developers and bureaucrats, star architects and amateur fantasists, politicians and the well-spun press-Nobel's book bares the crucial moments as factions and institutions converge to create a noisy new culture at Ground Zero.
Tragic and comic by turns, full of low dealings and high dud-geon, Sixteen Acres takes us behind the scenes at a site in search of its sanctity, exposing the reconstruction as the flawed product of a complicated city: driven by money, hamstrung by politics, burdened by the wounds it is somehow supposed to heal.
“Among the smartest architecture critics around, and one of the best writers of the bunch, Philip Nobel also has a reporter's eye for telling details and jaw-dropping gossip. In Sixteen Acres he chronicles the impossible project-of-the-century lucidly and sharply, armed with common sense, unfailing humor, a good moral compass and no particular axe to grind.”
--Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century