Dutch Architecture Firm Under Fire for 9/11 Perceptions of Its South Korean Towers

It’s been an awkward, uncomfortable weekend for the Dutch architectural firm MVRDV. On Friday, the newspaper Algemeen Dagblad put on its front page a rendering of a project the firm is working on called The Cloud in South Korea, which is part of a larger Daniel Libeskind-planned development. The two skyscrapers stops halfway up in its familiar long, rectangle form, to bloom out into cubes jutting at disjointed angles that connect the two buildings, ultimately smoothing back out and continuing back to the usual skyscraper straight lines. It’s as if a cloud was floating past the two, hence the name. The paper, however, writes in its accompanying headline, “Inspired by Twin Towers?”, writing that the rendering of the project resembled the moment when planes exploded through the towers in New York on September 11th. That story quickly branched out and by the weekend, the firm says it was receiving “threatening emails and calls of angry people calling us Al Qaeda lovers or worse.” The firm has since released a statement, saying it regrets that people interpreted the project as such, but it was never in their minds at all. Why exactly designers of skyscrapers would want to play off the terrible destruction of other skyscrapers, we have no idea, but when the NY Daily News spoke to a former fire chief about MVRDV’s apology, he responded, “I think it’s a total lie and they have no respect for the people who died that day. I think they’re trying to sensationalize it. It’s a cheap way to get publicity.” Here’s a bit from the firm’s statement:

The Cloud was designed based on parameters such as sunlight, outside spaces, living quality for inhabitants and the city. It is one of many projects in which MVRDV experiments with a raised city level to reinvent the often solitary typology of the skyscraper. 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.