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Up from Zero: Politics, Architecture, and the Rebuilding of New York Paperback – September 13, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Renowned architecture critic Goldberger (Above New York) has undertaken the Herculean task of describing the three years of proposals, counterproposals, chaos and compromise that resulted in a plan for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. Unlike many post-9/11 books, this careful, detailed analysis is sure to remain a valuable reference work for future generations, who will wonder how the redevelopment took the shape it did. Goldberger provides a blow-by-blow, yet always readable, account of the myriad interest groups, meetings, press conferences, backroom negotiations and public forums that led to the selection of a plan for the site and designs for the Freedom Tower and memorial, "Reflecting Absence." While displaying a deep understanding of history, urban planning, human psychology and power politics, Goldberger remains a largely neutral reporter of events. At the end, however, he mourns the lost opportunity to diverge from New York's traditionally commercial approach to real estate development. He concludes, "What played out through 2002 and 2003 was the use of architecture for political ends, not the use of politics for architectural ends—that is the key moral of the story.... Idealism met cynicism at Ground Zero, and so far they have battled to a draw."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
As we mark the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the future of the 16 acres known as Ground Zero remains a subject of intense debate. Recognizing that the attempt to both memorialize those who perished and bring life back to Lower Manhattan is a historic challenge deserving of careful documentation and analysis, Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic currently at the New Yorker, offers just that in this avidly detailed account of the messy process by which government officials, developers, architects, family members of the victims of 9/11, and community activists struggled through grueling public hearings to formulate and select a master plan. Fluent in the complicated aesthetic, political, and financial issues involved, keenly attuned to the deep emotions aroused, incisive in his profiling of major players, and refreshingly candid in elucidating the failings of the original World Trade Center (for more on this, see City in the Sky [BKL N 1 03]), Goldberger asks, Can a powerful and realizable vision emerge from so much wrangling and compromise? Stay tuned. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Is it because the book carefully analyzes
pros and cons on the history of the area?
Is it because the book brings alive the political
games of Port Authority and LMDC?
Is it because the book broadcasts the competition
of world-class architects?
Is it because the book records the behind scenes
of super architects' dirty cat fight?
Is it because the eye of the book is not only from
top-down, but also bottom-up?
Is it because the book tells what the role of developer is in NY?
Well, the book surely answers all of above-mentioned questions. But the real drama of the book is in what the New Yorkers did together to make this site memorable and meaningful (both symbolically and practically); a strong testimony to the victorious civic life against the destructive terrorists attacks.
Paul Goldberger bites that drama with such tenacity and rigor that it's really difficult to put down the book once in hands. The book actually mentions that NY had to wait several months before speaking of rebuilding because nobody dared to speak when the scars of terrorism was just around the corner. What a tragic yet promising story!
The heart of the matter is that in the turmoil of rebuilding energy arises a revelation how a great contemporary city -such as New York- claims it's identity. It's a city of ideas. It's a city of debates. It's a city of interactions, and it's a city of generating hope from the deepest despair of human affairs. "It's a city of Victors, not Victims"
I would like to believe that Goldberger, as a New Yorker, simply could not resist speaking of what he had witnessed. The book is mind bothering, yet, heart beating read.
Supplementing illustrations are in "Imagining Ground Zero" - ISBN: 0847826570.