The attack on the World Trade Center was an attack on our country and our citizens. It was also an attack on our cities and their architecture. Already, the question arises: Should we rebuild the World Trade Center, and if so, in what form? Whether one liked the towers or not, they were a symbol of the grand scale of New York and our country.
Many architects are joining the discussion, and some say that the buildings, because of their size, attracted the destruction and should not be rebuilt. Others say that in this telecommunications age, we don't need to cluster ourselves in high-rise buildings. We can disperse and operate out of our homes or in smaller clusters on the outskirts of our cities. In fact, many people are already doing just that.
These people have forgotten that our cities are the greatest creations of man -- Athens, Pompeii, Venice, Paris and New York. They are the center of our arts, our culture and our industries. They are where we can have the greatest diversity, the greatest opportunities for education, employment and recreation. Above all else, cities are where great architecture is -- St. Mark's Square in Venice, the Pyramids of Giza, the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. It is that architecture that makes living in cities exciting.
As graduate students of architecture in 1955, our class had the good fortune to have Minoru Yamasaki, the future architect of the World Trade Center, as a visiting critic for a month. He had just returned from an around-the-world trip. We were anxious to hear about the powerful new architecture of Japan, but to our surprise, he talked about the graceful Gothic cathedrals of France. He was enthralled by them. And every building that he designed after that was a Gothic cathedral -- the Detroit Gas Co., M&T Bank in Buffalo and the World Trade Center.
Let us hope the terrorists, in destroying this building, have not destroyed our faith in our cities, and the joy of our architecture. We must rebuild the World Trade Center as a living memorial to the thousands who died there, just as we rebuilt London, Stalingrad, Berlin and Tokyo.
ROBERT T. COLES