Kelly and money.
The results are in, ladies and gentlemen.
Forget two years of agony and hopes for resolution, two years of arguments and competitions, two years of talk and spin, we now have an answer. The World Trade Center site is going to look nothing like what we wanted, what we were told we would get, what we should have.
Liebeskind's design, whatever its value, is dead, even if Liebeskind, complicit in his own defeat, is still there for cover (and surely a fat paycheck). The public be damned, money is talking, and the conversation isn't pretty or smart, because Larry Silverstein is in charge.
We're going to have to suffer years, actually decades, of construction messes in order to end up saddled with a huge affront, the usual New York contemporary corporate high-rise junk. There is no coherent plan, no monumental architecture, no humanity, no spirit, and not even a cold aesthetic geometry survives.
Last week I was once again struck by the absolute rightness of Ellsworth Kelly's magnificent WTC site proposal in green, when I visited the Whitney Museum, which is currently displaying his "red green blue work." The simple newsheet collage he sent to the NYTimes architectural critic Herbert Muschamp early in September has been donated to the Museum. It hangs, modestly-framed and almost invisible, near the elevators in the lobby.
Sublime. It's what we need right now. We can build towers on other lots. There's nothing to keep us from getting Kelly's green, except the money that talks.