Bloomberg News

Skyscraper Design Resembling WTC Explosions May Be Changed

December 14, 2011

(Updates with designer’s comment in third paragraph.)

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The design of twin skyscrapers planned for Seoul may be modified in the wake of criticism that a cloud-shaped bridge joining the buildings resembles the explosions that felled the World Trade Center towers.

MVRDV, the Dutch architecture firm that drew the plans for the towers joined at the 27th floor by a billowing cloud-shaped bridge, apologized for any affront caused by the resemblance to the fireball that sprung from the New York buildings in the Sept. 11 attacks that destroyed the twin towers.

The building designs “have been widely published in Asia and Europe without anyone noticing a resemblance,” Jan Knikker, a spokesman for the Rotterdam-based firm, said in an e-mail today. “Once the plan was published in the U.S., the controversy started.”

The design represents a cloud wrapping around the center of the skyscrapers, according to the firm’s website. The bridge connecting the towers, which are 57 and 60 stories high, would house a conference center, restaurants, swimming pools and a lounge, MVRDV said.

“There is nothing finalized about the design,” Seo Hee Seok, a spokesman at Yongsan Development Co., developer of the project in the center of Seoul between the financial district and the Han River, said by telephone today. The buildings are just some of the 67 high-rise buildings planned for the Yongsan business district, he said.

‘Negative Attention’

“It may be difficult for the developer to go on with the current design after getting negative attention in the mass media,” Lee Sang Yun, a professor at Yonsei University’s department of architectural engineering in Seoul, said by phone.

The development is near the Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison, the headquarters of American forces in South Korea. The U.S. has maintained a military presence in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. It’s moving to a supporting role in Yongsan with the U.S. base there scheduled to return to South Korean control by 2016, according to the State Department’s website.

The World Trade Center towers in New York were destroyed a decade ago when hijackers crashed passenger jets into the upper floors of the two buildings, killing 2,752 people. A third hijacked plane struck the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and a fourth crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers tried to wrest control of the jet from the attackers.

“MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud project evokes regarding 9/11,” the firm said in a statement posted on its website.

MVRDV, which also designed the Dutch pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany, said that the Seoul towers have been described as a “reinvention of the skyscraper.”

--With reporting by Andrew Blackman in Berlin. Editors: Jeff St.Onge, Brett Miller.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Kim in Seoul at rkim76@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brett Miller at bmiller30@bloomberg.net; Andrew Blackman at ablackman@bloomberg.net.


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