The World Trade Center: Politics and Policies of Skyscraper Development

The World Trade Center: Politics and Policies of Skyscraper Development

The World Trade Center: Politics and Policies of Skyscraper Development

The World Trade Center: Politics and Policies of Skyscraper Development

Excerpt

As buildings are made ever larger and as their numbers increase, American cities are being confronted with highly complex problems. Transporting large numbers of people in and out of high-density districts, meeting the growing demand for sewerage, water, and energy services, assuring the visual and functional compatibility of large structures with the environment, and delivering effective police and fire protection are sources of serious concern in cities where there is extensive construction of tall buildings. Of special interest is that the development of tall building technology is rapidly outracing the social, political, and managerial means of applying it for the benefit of society.

Focusing on the World Trade Center in New York City, the world's second-tallest building, I have investigated how decision-making--proposing, planning, modifying, and implementing a project--contributes or fails to contribute to societal concerns. An important aspect of this research involved inquiry into the capacity of the public and private sectors to establish effective policies and controls.

What is perhaps the most significant lesson to be drawn from this study is how difficult it is for decision-makers to approximate rational decision-making where complex technical and social questions have to be resolved. As we shall see, World Trade Center planners brought to bear very sophisticated forms of expertise to produce what they hoped would be the best possible structure. Yet the center was dated even before it could be completed. Much of this can be attributed to the very rapid rate of change taking place in contemporary society. In the 1960s, such concerns as the energy crisis and environmental degradation were understood by few persons; fewer still were prepared to do anything about it. Also, we shall see how difficult it is for the governmental sector to anticipate change in order best to provide for public needs. This in spite of the fact that the governments of New York City and New Jersey assumed a very aggressive posture toward the development of the trade center complex.

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