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Sixteen Acres: Architecture And The Outrageous Struggle For The Future of Ground Zero

1 rating: 2.0
2004 non-fiction book by Philip Nobel

A look at the collision of interests behind the ambitious attempt to raise a new national icon at Ground Zero. Critic Philip Nobel strips away the hyperbole to reveal the secret life of the century's most charged building project. Providing a tally of … see full wiki

Author: Philip Nobel
Publisher: Metropolitan Books
Date Published: December 23, 2004
1 review about Sixteen Acres: Architecture And The Outrageous...

Inexplicable lack of illustrations a major flaw in this book.

  • Jan 12, 2009
  • by
Several years ago I read the James Glanz and Eric Lipton book "City In The Sky: The Rise and Fall of The World Trade Center".  That book, authored by a pair of New York Times reporters, chronicled the long history of the project from the germ of an idea at the 1939 World's Fair, to the design and planning of a project unlike any other in the history of mankind, to the cataclysmic events of September 11th, 2001.  Since I enjoyed that book so much I was very excited when I came across "Sixteen Acres".  It seemed to me the perfect sequel to "City In The Sky".   Author Philip Nobel writes about architecture for the New York Times and set about the business of documenting the incredibly complicated and sometimes acrimonious process of redeveloping the World Trade Center site.
As one might well imagine, the job of designing a replacement for the WTC was an almost impossible task. There were pressures from so many stakeholders including the families of the victims, the politicians, the various bureaucracies, the tenants as well as from Larry Silverstein, who just six weeks before the attack, had signed a 99 year lease to operate the WTC.  Then there was the epic struggle between the competing architects and their visions of what the real estate should look like when all was said and done.
I found that Nobel did a pretty fair job in describing the process and introducing the reader to the various players involved in this drama.  But I also thought that the author frequently seemed to forget that many of his readers have absolutely no training in design and architecture.  While I thought I was getting the gist of what he was trying to convey, I often felt that I was missing something significant in the translation.  This is why illustrations would have been so helpful.  Had I been able to turn to refer to drawings of the proposals Nobel was discussing, I feel I could have gotten a great deal more from this book.  It is really too bad and for this reason "Sixteen Acres:  Architecture and the Outrageous Struggle For The Future of Ground Zero" is not a book that I can enthusiastically recommend.

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