12 September 2006

five years after

[image: New York Times]

AS I SAT TODAY in my office, a block from Ground Zero, with the constant drone of bagpipes echoing up from the memorial ceremonies below, I couldn't help but reflect on the terror attacks that so changed the world five years ago. Yet perhaps due to the weather -- so, so eerily reminiscent of that crisp fall morning in 2001 -- I began to ponder that maybe things haven't really changed that much. I started to think about accountability, and about how everything that has spun out of control since the Trade Center fell -- Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, countless terror attacks around the globe -- can in a certain sense be traced back to a crisis of accountability. And then of course I saw this image of the ground zero site as it exists tonight, still a gaping hole in the city, such a fitting metaphor for the failures and missed opportunities of these last five years.

I often write of the architect's ethical imperative to design responsibly in a world of increasing irresponsibility. The stakes are even higher now, believe it or not, than they were five years ago, and it's pretty clear that architecture is ever more implicated. If we assume that every building imagines a better city (and, by extension, that every city imagines a better world), then what does the above image have to say about our future? Do we accept this status quo? Or do we insist it changes?

On that note (sort of), for those of you in Arizona, Delaware, Washington DC, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Wisconsin, don't forget that tomorrow (Sept. 12) is primary day. It's important. As a New Yorker, I'll be using the primary as an opportunity to make a statement, to demand a measure of accountability that seems to have vanished. Of course there is no chance of unseating the all-powerful Senator Clinton -- and, indeed, I'm not so sure that our long-term interests would be best served by replacing her with Jonathan Tasini, her under-qualified, anti-war challenger for the Democratic nomination. But a vote for Tasini offers a chance -- if admittedly futile -- to make a simple statement in protest of a legislator who made the wrong choice in supporting a very wrong war. [The previous two sentences reveal the constant debate between my inner pragmatist and inner idealist. I apologize.] A wise man once told me that democracy is not a spectator sport; voting is not a privelege, but a responsibility. It is our duty as citizens to make known such grievances to our elected representatives, and I can't imagine a better way for Mrs. Clinton to understand the gravity of her misguided support of Bush's war than to see her supposed invincibility diminish by a few percentage points in tomorrow's primary. See you at the polls!


1 comment:

archizoo said...

I find myself always reserving comment, so many miles from NYC and the real experience of 9/11--a sense of unworthiness, I guess.

I am, however, growing increasingly concerned about the architecture that is the "representative" response to the event (destruction of architecture, as symbol), in this place---architects not of this experience, not of this place, not of this culture, designing commercial places for Larry.

I believe that the discussion of the design response to Ground Zero ought to stop until the programmatic response to the place and the event is engaged.

I am embarrassed by the cheap evocation of sentimentality by tilted planes atop commercial towers, the irrelevant discussion of bold and defensive structural expression in a place of structural destruction, and the vapidness of geometric purity in a place of unimaginable emotional experience.

You are a block away...get this conversation out of the mouths of global stylists and onto the ground of American, if not New York, experience!