From Publishers Weekly
Almost from the moment the World Trade Center towers collapsed on 9/11, Americans, and especially New Yorkers, began to dream of how the site would be rebuilt. As Nobel relates, one recovery worker imagined a series of five buildings arrayed like a hand giving terrorists the finger. More established architects toned down the anger, but it was a given that their plans for a new World Trade Center would contain a message about the old. Nobel, an architectural columnist for Metropolis
, guides readers through early redevelopment plans and the design competition that made Daniel Libeskind famous even among people who know nothing of architecture. Nobel also examines the bitter infighting that followed the selection of his proposal. On its own terms, this is a dramatic and compelling story, and Nobel's insights into the competitive nature of top-level architecture are particularly valuable. But his passionate opinions about the deficiencies of most modern architects (no longer able to "make buildings speak... to create symbols for a culture with no common code") can be distracting. A more serious flaw, however, is the lack of illustrations, of Libeskind's design and those of the other finalists. Nobel's prose, even at its most descriptive, can go only so far toward shaping readers' vision of the proposed buildings. 2 maps not seen by PW.
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“Among the smartest architecture critics around, and one of the best writers of the bunch, Philip Nobel also has a reporter's eye for telling details and jaw-dropping gossip. In Sixteen Acres he chronicles the impossible project-of-the-century lucidly and sharply, armed with common sense, unfailing humor, a good moral compass and no particular axe to grind.”
--Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century