Design evoking 9/11 causes controversy

By Lee Woo-young
  • Published : Dec 12, 2011 - 20:58
  • Updated : Dec 12, 2011 - 20:58
The design of a pair of residential towers to be built in Yongsan, Seoul has sparked international controversy by evoking the image of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Families of 9/11 victims were among those outraged at the design evoking the exploding WTC, and criticized Dutch architecture firm MVRDV and the architect, Daniel Libeskind, according to the New York Daily News and New York Post.

Scheduled to be completed in 2015, the towers are connected by a “pixilated cloud” which critics say resembles the fireball from the WTC during the attacks. 
The residential towers to be built in Yongsan (left photo) and the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001. (Yonhap News)

“They have no respect for the people who died that day,” Jim Riches, a retired FDNY deputy chief whose son was killed on 9/11, was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News.

“I think they’re trying to sensationalize it. It’s a cheap way to get publicity.”

But the firm said in its public statement on its website that it didn’t notice the similarities during the design process and it was not intentional.

“MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations the cloud project evokes regarding 9/11,” said the firm. “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks nor did we see the resemblance during the design process. We sincerely apologize to anyone whose feelings we have hurt, it was not our intention.”

The “cloud” is a 10-floor tall structure connecting two 60-story and 54-story towers. It will feature a conference center, fitness center, restaurants and cafes, according to MVRDV.

The architect Libeskind, who designed the tower that will include the Yongsan International Business Center, was also in charge of designing the headquarters for Hyundai Development Co. in Seoul and its apartment block IPARK in Busan.

Despite criticism, an official in charge of the development in the Yongsan area told domestic media: “As the towers become popular, I think some rival groups are trying to defame them. The pixilated cloud is the core part of the towers and we don’t plan to change the design.”

By Lee Woo-young (