If you have been under a rock, most of the main stream media has been pre-occuppied with irrational distortions of issues (from The Tea Party’s “media” party in DC to economic rebirth in New York City’s lower bowels). Sometimes it is just best to place the physical facts before us – unaltered and clear.
The old Burlington Coat Factory building (now referred to as the Cordoba House) is just one of many on the intersection of Tribeca, The World Trade Center and City Hall. It’s really an eyesore. Nine years since the horrific destruction caused by ignorance, intolerance and flat out hate, the neighborhoods though are finding new ways to revitalize. The economic downturn has not left New York City immune. A quick look in either direction lets you know that vacancy is the next worry on folks minds given our national and local economies.
Yet with the massive amounts of investment already at play at Ground Zero and in the periphery, there really is little to worry unless the major developers go belly up. Some projects like the Forest City Ratner – Frank Gehry inspired Beekman Tower are filling the skyline.
Gehry’s first residential high rise extends his global use of “draped metal”. It’s aesthetic quality is an architectural link to his nearby and global based installations (IACs West-side highway headquarters, Seattle’s EMP to The Guggenheim Bilbao come to mind). As the final skin is fastened on at Beekman, the impact for the work force becomes obvious. What next?
The debate down a few blocks reaches to the local union worker and office worker alike. Without investors and developers willing to take a chance – buildings will stay boarded up and lack the interest of redevelopment. Certainly no one can argue for projects illegally financed or illegally owned. In America a parcel can be bought and sold at a market rate. Park51’s owner legitimately owns the property and, as we are witnessing, has to ensure the community accepts his proposed use along with it’s financing. To deny on grounds of religion would simply mean other religious facilities (mosques, synagogues and churches and the like) would not be possible in other communities either. And when properly funded – the economic engine which fuels each and everyone of us as Americans can link our mindful co-existence. Such co-existence, peaceful, is only right when the party across the way is lawful and mindful. Tolerance should be rewarded while ignorance and hate should be smothered out quickly.
In 1996, a Denver radio station (KBPI) had a few disc jockeys who blurted hatred into the airwaves when a professional basketball player dishonored the city, team and respectful Americans by not rising to our national anthem. That was his right as a citizen – maybe questionable as a public figure. Muhammad Ali set the example in the 60’s and, as a professional athlete, Rauf was far from a trend setter. Yet the DJs challenge was to retaliate with a bugle and trumpet rendition of The Star Spangled Banner inside the Colorado Islamic Center on the outskirts of Denver. The fierce nature of September 11 was yet known – but the message remains the same.
Expression is a freedom uniquely protected in America. It enlivens us to understand our own perspective. Like a new structure – from a sculpture to a building – it engages us to think about meaning and impact on our lives. The American DJs and collaborators were immediately reprimanded because they had illegally entered a private building. Today, two blocks away from Cordoba, workers rightfully now use biodiesel fueled cement trucks to fill each new floor of World Trade Center 1. The American pride poured into each work day should not be lost by foolishly arguing for a building that, with it’s own means, may or may not become a reality. The structure should gloriously demonstrate it’s presence because it is well thought out, elegant and acts as an energizing force in it’s own right.