The World Trade Center (from the archives)

Lately I’ve been reading up on the history of the World Trade Center. It’s easy to forget, in this post-9/11 world, that for most of their life the Twin Towers were reviled. One of the most prominent critics was Wolf Von Eckardt, the Washington Post‘s eminent architectural critic. Upon seeing Minoru Yamasaki’s model for the buildings in 1966, Von Eckardt called the World Trade Center a “fearful instrument of urbicide.” Its two towers, he wrote, “just stand there, artless and dumb, without any relationship to anything, not even to each other.”

Von Eckardt calls the scale of the Twin Towers “utterly inhuman.” Maybe that’s why they eventually gained acceptance–if not from the architectural community, then at least from the popular media. What else could King Kong climb, except for something that was utterly inhuman?

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