Choosing an architect to replace the twin towers was always going to be a pretty high stakes game. The fact that it was happening in New York City, one of the most politically and culturally charged places on earth, could only make the whole thing more intense. Hal Foster (architecture critic and generally cool postmodernist) communicates the drama in this excellent review of the selection process in the LRB (the full story is only available to paying LRB subscribers).
“The presentations in December made for terrific theatre: two parts The Fountainhead, one part Gangs of New York. On the one hand, the willingness of prestigious architects to collaborate was impressive, especially in the case of the ‘Dream Team’ of Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman, Charles Gwathmey and Steven Holl. On the other hand, to be in the running one had to be a designated ?ber-architect, presumably with the technical expertise required of grands projets: stock in the Dream Team, Lord Foster and the Skidmore Owings & Merrill group went up, while stock in Daniel Libeskind and others fell. But also, implicitly, one should be an echt New Yorker, and here Foster went down (maybe out), Libeskind up a bit, while the Dream Team, SOM and the ‘Think’ group led by Rafael Vi?oly, a veteran of big buildings who works out of downtown Manhattan, held even.”