1,776 feet: a symbolic letdown

I’ve mentioned to my wife several times that I think the new One World Trade Center should have been built taller, and Slate’s Brian Palmer agrees.

To me, the 1,776-foot height of One World Trade Center is the most problematic part of its design. Ostensibly a reference to America’s spirit of independence, the height really represents a turn inward. When Americans built ever taller buildings in the 1920s, eventually surpassing the Eiffel Tower, Europeans were too enamored of their medieval skylines to join the fray, allowing American architects to dominate the new form. When there’s a race going on, you have to try to win it. Shooting for fourth place makes no sense.

Even if it was going to be the world’s tallest when it’s completed sometime next year, of course it wouldn’t hold that record for long in today’s world. But, Mr. Palmer notes, the Taiwanese, whose Taipei 101 was the world’s tallest in the early part of the 2000s, struck the right chord of “philosophical magnanimity” when their recordholder was surpassed. “We know they will build taller towers elsewhere,” noted a 29-year-old accountant. “Let’s enjoy ours while we can.”

Read more: “1,776 feet. What a letdown.” by Brian Palmer at Slate.com

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