One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building
With superb writing and awesome photography, One World Trade Center by Judith Dupré is a masterpiece of a book in every aspect, including book design. This volume will bring tears to many eyes because One (as the building is often referred to in the book) is so closely connected to the Twin Towers’ collapse of 9/11. This is a large, heavy volume on glossy paper filled with photography, mostly full-page or double-spread, but also many smaller photos to illustrate the text, including black-and-white design sketches.
Though meant to be a biography of this extraordinary building, this is not an architectural treatise, even though architecture is an integral part of the text. Dupré was masterful, giving us plenty of fascinating technical architectural details without resorting to technical jargon—all in layman’s term everyone can readily understand. Obviously Dupré spent years to research and collect the material for this book, including more than seventy interviews. Her introduction explains a lot about the project and this building. She reproduced a full-page map of the Ground Zero site and its vicinity, clearly labeled with buildings and those destroyed and damaged. Unfortunately, the reduction is a bit too much, so you need more than your glasses to read the labels.
Timeline of the original ideas, designs, plans, and acceptance and, finally, construction are excellent for the readers’ overview. We have many sketches and photos to illustrate this involved process starting in 2002. Equally informational is the “who-is-who” section of some of the key people involved in this enormous project. The book designer used thumbnail photos of these key people in a unique way of reproduction, as if reprinted from an old newsprint.
A chapter deals with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, created in 2001 to oversee the World Trade Center redevelopment, including their own timeline. Finally, the meat of the book, The Evolution of the Tower’s Design. This took four years, starting in 2003, with many spectacular architectural designs submitted, but finally deciding on a simplest, yet stunning, design of the building that proudly stands today. We learn that the building was originally called Freedom Tower but renamed One World Trade Center in 2005. Dupré gives us many interesting brief sidebars, sketches, and photos to illustrate this process. She included the design and construction of Seven World Trade Center that preceded One and provided many insights and ideas for construction of this building.
Construction of this tallest building in the Western Hemisphere finally culminated in hoisting the last piece to top, the stainless steel-glass beacon. Dupré continues with chapters related to the building and the site. Four foldout maps giving us the view all around the high observatory; building and sites nicely labeled. This is also a clever addditon.
In an emotional chapter Dupré gives details of the nine/eleven memorial and nine/eleven museum in her well-written text and brief sentences as captions of the photos. The slurry wall surrounding the original twin towers and that survived the nine/eleven attack is still on permanent display here.
She also includes a section on the transportation hub that connects with Trade Center, a fantastic building housing the connections to ferry lines, trains, subways and buses, illustrated with more beautiful photos.
Construction credits and extensive chapter-by-chapter notes conclude this volume.
Little, Brown and Company