One World Trade Center: The Biography

One World Trade Center: The Biography

One of the first books which started my skyscraper collection was a copy so oversized it didn’t fit anywhere on the modest shelves that were my library. Reaching adult knee height, it was too tall to fit in between the shelves when standing up, while taking up too much shelve real estate when laying flat. However, the book was excused, as it presented some of the tallest, famous and important skyscrapers in the world. It was simply called ‘Skyscrapers‘, a title which runs vertically on the cover, off course. Today, I own hundreds of skyscraper-related titles, with ‘Skyscrapers’ still trying to find its rightful place. It still produces oohs and ahhs, like when my little nieces flip through the pages. Because in our world, size matters.

Thirty years after Skyscraper was published, writer, architectural historian, and public speaker Judith Dupré presents another gem of a skyscraper book. This time, she focusses on one skyscraper, being the most anticipated building of our age. During the past 14 years, there have not been many weeks in which progress of development or construction, or lack thereof, wasn’t global news. It’s one of the most talked about skyscrapers in history, and here we have 58,000 postings to prove it. Off course, we’re talking about New York’s One World Trade Center.

one_wtc_01photo credit: Nicola Lyn Evans / WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Like ‘Skyscrapers’, the new ‘One World Trade Center’ book uses a great mix of fantastic images and well-written text to make a potentially complex topic accessible for a mass audience. Measuring 9 by 13 inches, some of the page-size photo’s and visualizations allow the reader to absorb the tower and the city, and to study the details of it. Granted full access by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and through the input of over 70 interviews with the main characters involved, Dupré tells the ultimate story of the development, construction and completion of the most expensive skyscraper in the world. The story is told from every point of view, which in case of One World Trade Center involves many, many angles.

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‘One World Trade Center’ brings together everything you know and didn’t know. The book is billed as a biography but you might as well call it an encyclopedia as it also contains an illustrated timeline of construction, a collection of aerial views including a ‘what-is-what’, three densely printed pages of project credits, as well as information on the memorial and museum, the transportation hub and the other projects that make up the World Trade Center neighbourhood.

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One of many architectural sketches, like this prescient one made on September 18, 2001 by lead architect David M. Childs. Image credit: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)

When reading this book, you get a sense of how complicated, how difficult and how complex the political, financial and architectural challenges have truly been. Being the most scrutinized building of our lifetime, the amount of thinking about safety and security is immense, and involved a large number of innovations. Yet One World Trade Center manages to be, in the words of Louis Sullivan, ‘a proud and soaring thing’.

one_wtc_04photo credit: The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

‘One World Trade Center’ is on sale as of today, and we recommend you all run to the bookstore to get your copy, as it doesn’t happen every day that you get so much skyscraper story for such an attractive price. At the moment I write this, the book is already the #1 New Release in the City Photography category on Amazon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it, along with ‘Skyscraper’, will rank amongst the best selling skyscraper books ever. For me, this one will stay in my living room!

More information can be found at onewtcbook.com and judithdupre.com.

top photo credit: Little, Brown and Company

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