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Linder

When I was a child growing up in suburban Detroit my father worked in an industrial design firm sharing a small building with Minoru Yamasaki’s architecture office. It was while Yamasaki was designing the World Trade Center. At that time the World Trade Center and the film “2001: A Space Odyssey” represented to me the exciting future American children would inherit. It is so ironic to me that the year 2001 will be remembered for the destruction of the WTC this symbol of the future and the year 2001 is now emblematic of the challenged world we did in fact inherit.

The human loss was so great from the 9-11 attack that I feel guilty morning the loss of the building. It was due to my father that I felt personally connected to the WTC. I loved visiting my father’s design office, and on one visit I was able to meet and talk to Mr. Yamasaki.

My father first took me to the WTC construction site when it was a very large hole in the ground, next when it was partly constructed and so on every few years on our visits to my grandparents in Leonia NJ. On the bus ride from Leonia to Manhattan the first sight of the city was the WTC rising up above the tree covered palisades.

When standing at the corner of the building it is the only place I have experience lines receding up ¼ mile so they appear to be curving over your head. Yamasaki must have intentionally placed the towers to perfectly frame and contrast the Woolworth building when viewed from the harbor. I’ll never forget the bright white, inconceivably open ground floor lobbies complimenting the massive towers they anchor. I have always found the elegant simplicity of Yamasaki’s forms and materials beautiful and inspiring.

Jim Heuer

Whatever the merits of the World Trade Center buildings (I, for one saw them as overbearing, inhumanly scaled, and utterly out of context in lower Manhattan), I must disagree with Brian's comment that Portland's building height limits are "provincial". Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Cities and their body politic have a right to define the aesthetic that shapes what they will become. Building height conveys a message as well as serving the needs of structural economics. Indeed, many of the world's tallest buildings were driving to their heights by ego, not the accountant's pencil. Thus it shouldn't be a surprise that a great many cities have taken control of building height to preserve the sense of scale and proportion that their citizens regard as their essence.

Most notable of those that comes to mind is Washington, DC, which established height limits in the late 19th Century after an apartment tower was constructed taller than the Capitol Building. The visual metaphor was not lost on Congress, and mammon was held in check symbolically, if not in practice, in the District of Columbia. European cities, of course, are not ashamed to sequester tall buildings where they can do little harm to their historic cores... Paris and Naples both come to mind in this regard.

Portland has no need of becoming a Los Angeles, Houston, or Manhattan, for that matter, dominated by immense buildings which glorify their corporate creators and symbolize the conformity and commoditization of the thousands of subservient minions housed within. Let's be proud of our community's stand for a more human scaled and visually unified central urban core -- no apologies for "provincialism" need be forthcoming.

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