Thursday, June 30, 2005

Send It Back to the Drawing Board

The latest design for the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero may look sleek from New Jersey, but it will present a massive blank wall at street level.

Photo: Vincent Laforet/The New York Times
NYT architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff describes the "pedestal" the tower will sit on:
Designed to withstand a major bomb blast, the base will be virtually windowless. In an effort to animate its exterior, the architects say they intend to decorate it in a grid of shimmering metal panels. A few narrow slots will be cut into the concrete to allow slivers of natural light into the lobby.
One of the fundamental rules of creating lively streetscapes is to place windows, doors and other signs of human activity at ground level. It's even written into Wilmington's zoning code:
Sec. 48-217. Ground floor level transparent windows ("transparency").
(a) C-3 and C-4 district requirements. For new construction only, in C-3, and C-4 zoning districts, not less than 50 percent of the building frontage facing any public street on the ground floor level shall consist of transparent windows... "Transparency" means open or enclosed by clear and non-reflecting glass or other material that provides pedestrians on adjacent sidewalks an unobstructed view extending at least five feet into the interior of the building.

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