One World Trade Centre must be the biggest Obelisk in the World

One World Trade Centre must be the biggest Obelisk in the World

Or what a Broadcast Facility means and how the impossible can’t ever happen

The communication needs of the WTC project force One WTC to become not the third tallest in the U.S. after the Trump Tower, but to deliver on it promises: height, design and relevance. One WTC design promised to reach 1776 feet by means of an impossible spire,  but One WTC’s design is composed by a cubic base, a square body slimming as it grows and the promise of a pyramidion that would crown the figure. The historical and emotional relevance the tower promises and requires is not possible without its full height and its full symbolic power.

New York is the epicenter of corporate communications. It is where the profession was born, with Edward Bernays’ practices, and where the best agencies and biggest clients are. Here the littlest detail is studied using the largest budgets. In a world of image it’s all about reputation, the confidence that represents, and how those assets are transferred into a bank account or, for that matter, into votes.

The corporate communication game is increasingly refined, so the things that have to happen, happen.  The WTC play is a complex one, and the stakes are as high as they get. Two Presidents of the two main parties have defended the same historic and political narrative over the soil of Ground Zero, and they have challanged the Nation to erect a symbol of the aspirations and resolve of the American people (incompatible with an act of modesty that would soon be attributed to guilt and regret). Different Governors have echoed the resurrection narrative, as well as two Mayors, the architects and the representatives of the Port Authority.  Governor Pataki said in 2009: “We are not cowards we are not going to build small because we have been attacked before, we are going to soar to new heights” The media from both sides of the political spectrum as well as the public opinion have expressed the unanimous desire to erect a tribute to freedom and America’s can-do spirit. High expectations have been created through a battery of messages that reinforce even more the symbolic requirements of the project. Those expectations have been built over the American people, its allies and its enemies all over the world.

What would happen if the answer to all those statements didn’t meet such expectations? Today one can think that the Port Authority will deliver, instead of the iconic Twin Towers, an unrecognizable tower figure that will look unfinished. Something smaller than the Willis Tower, the Trump International Hotel and Tower and a long list of buildings around the world. It’d be as tall as one of the former towers but substantially smaller in volume and presence, not reaching the promised 1776 feet tall but a mere 1368, nor having an architectural beacon signing “New York” in Morse code at its tip, but a mere blinking red dot.

The world media would cover the completion event in detail anyway, but media don’t sell information anymore; they sell narratives, and the already tallest building of New York wouldn’t let room for any other narrative but a story of decay and disappointment. The convalescent American public would be heard deeply sighing at the sight of a skyline they have lost forever. The building would be consecrated as a 1368 feet tall great disappointment, and symbolize the decay of a nation and the discouragement of its spirit. Actual and potential tenants would fly from the cursed and marked site after the public ceremony, to the new A class office spaces, like the Brookfield Manhattan West Towers, the 51 Astor Plaze or the 250West at 55th St. Tower, which are all planned to be completed between 2013 and 2015. The politicians involved in the development (one Mayor, two Governors and one President) would be promptly despised by their electorate and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would have finally to pay for the scandals and the chaotic administration by losing some of their privileges. This would make very difficult for them to comply with their enormous financial obligations, as Fitch Ratings states. The main contractors would also get noticed, by their myopic egotism and loud failure.

This bleak picture is the unavoidable consequence of violating essential principles of the corporate communication discipline. You cannot ever betray the advantages of your product’s positioning, and you cannot ever make a statement that is inconsistent with your narrative, lest it will collapse along with your reputation.

Should we think that our politicians, executives and investors are willing to face this situation just for saving a few million dollars in a budget of so many billions?

They definitely shouldn´t do it.

The long lasting hesitancy regarding the broadcasting facility at the top of One WTC will necessarily end in the installation of the pyramidal capstone. The enlightened pyramidion, in accordance with every previous design of the tower, will close the tower’s figure in a truly timeless design: the obelisk.

It will ring the bells of many mental patterns in peoples’ minds. The tower’s slimming body finally goes somewhere, instead of suddenly interrupting its growth, its figure becomes universally recognizable, representing the light of the Sun, the vigor and determination of those who always thrive for higher accomplishments. The enlightened top of 7 WTC as well as the structural tetrahedron at the top of 2 WTC would all make sense together. The worshiping inclination of the 2 WTC’s rooftop wouldn’t point a void in the space, but a pyramid casting a column of light to the night sky.

The tower will easily reach the 1776 feet tall with a small spire at the top of the pyramid (if we keep the proportions anticipated by the windows aligned above the lobby), becoming the tallest building in the developed world, the third worldwide and the biggest obelisk ever.

The quality of its iconicity will be so high that a pedestrian in the landscape would get the same impression than the skyline observer, a sharp triangle pointing at the skies.

This top statement will impact on the traditional media anywhere, on the digital media, the blogs and the social media; it will gather such surprise and admiration that will challenge the memory of the Twin Towers. There is no better incentive to build and invest in the development of the worshiping and embracing towers 2, 3 and 5 than the sheer success of the complex’s flagship.

The installation of the capstone won’t be a major complication for the royal families of New York real-estate. Durts and Tishmans have extensive experience together in such operations. The broadcasting facility of 4 Times Square, with its distinctive cubic structure, and the triangular rooftop structure and spire of One Bryant Park are just its immediately previous examples.

MARP 6/4/2012

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