This past week, the American Architectural Foundation (AAF) announced it will loan its iconic architectural model of the World Trade Center to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This original presentation model was built by the office of project architect Minoru Yamasaki (1912-1986) between 1969 and 1971 to provide the Port Authorities of New York and New Jersey a to-scale sense of the planned project. It is the last authentic 3-dimensional representation of the World Trade Center complex—the only other that remained was on display at the bottom of the Towers and destroyed with the buildings. Like most architectural models, it was not built with the intention of a permanent existence, but rather, to temporarily illustrate the scope of Yamasaki’s controversial yet extraordinary architectural and engineering feat. This model, more than any other, symbolizes the skyscraper, a building style indigenous to America-- but while architecturally and historically valuable on its own merit, its significance and symbolic importance dramatically increased following the events of 9/11.
The Memorial and Museum will remember and honor those who perished in the horrific attacks of 1993 and 2001. Through a sensitive presentation of artifacts and intimate stories of loss, compassion, recovery and reckoning, it will communicate key messages to tell the story of September 11th and its aftermath. When the museum opens in 2012, the World Trade Center model will be an integral component and serve as a visual reminder and emotional symbol for all people and nations around the world of the tragedy that occurred on 9/11.
Like historic photographs, drawings and scrapbooks, architectural records are an important part of America’s historic legacy. They help trace the architectural development of our nation’s cities and towns, and reflect contributions of American ingenuity, creativity and innovation. This World Trade Center model is huge. Measuring eight feet by ten feet at the base, with the twin towers rising over seven feet high, it vividly demonstrates the sheer size and mass of the original site. Built to accurately resemble the towers, every detail was considered. The model was even painted with a special gloss to produce a shiny appearance and illustrate the towers’ extraordinary and unique cladding system. Primarily made of wood, plaster, plastic and paper, tiny, finely crafted pieces were cast from specially designed and milled brass molds and injected with special plastics. Each piece was designed to fit a specific area and was individually painted and affixed by hand. The model is testimony to the extraordinary talent and craftsmanship of the art of model fabrication thirty years ago.
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