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Firm Apologizes for Project that Looks Like Exploding Twin Towers

By Sonja Sharp | December 11, 2011 5:11pm
Dutch architectural firm MVRDV apologizes over South Korean project that evokes 9/11 terror attack.
Dutch architectural firm MVRDV apologizes over South Korean project that evokes 9/11 terror attack.
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MANHATTAN — A celebrated Dutch architectural firm that sparked a firestorm of controversy after it released renderings for a luxury development in South Korea bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Twin Towers on 9/11has apologized for the move.

Rotterdam MVRDV has worked furiously to stem fallout from “The Cloud," portrayed in architectural drawings as two skyscrapers joined at the middle by a billowing mass that, for many, evoked the September 11 terror attacks.

“MVRDV regrets deeply any connotations The Cloud projects evokes regarding 9/11,” the company wrote on its Facebook page, where irate commenters flocked to denounce the project. “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, the design was not meant to provoke this.”

While the Internet simmered with rage through the weekend, on the streets of New York, reaction to the project was mixed.

“It looks like the World Trade Center. It looks like when it began to collapse—it collapsed from the center down,” snapped Filipo Borsellino, 25, a firefighter from Ohio on his way back to his hotel from the 9/11 Memorial Visitor Center. “I don’t think they’ll build that. It might start a war.”  

But George Ralph, of Brooklyn, barely noticed the resemblance.

“It looks that block game,” he said, gesturing with his handheld Nintendo as he waited for the train at Grand Central Station. “I could see how it looks like the World Trade Center, but it wasn’t my first reaction.”

The 850-foot tall structure is intended to be part of the South Korean capital’s Yongsan Dream Hub development project, and is expected to be completed in 2015.

The project’s controversial “cloud” was intended to house communal amenities, including “a large connecting atrium, a wellness centre, conference centre, fitness studio, various pools, restaurants and cafes,” according to the firm’s website.

Though MVRVD have apologized and swiftly removed some pictures of the project, the firm has yet to indicate whether it will alter designs to look less like the Twin Towers.

“It's definitely the first thing that came to my mind for sure, especially the look the explosion in the middle,” said Jessica Hong, 28, who was waiting for a friend outside the 9/11 Memorial.  “But I’m not for censoring art or pandering to people who are sensitive. I think if it’s executed well and stated with purpose, it’d be O.K.”