Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Towers of Light

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Towers of Light

Article excerpt

During the darkest hours of the downtown inferno, when Mayor Giuliani made his Churchillian promise that the New York skyline "will be made whole again," he must have thought he was speaking metaphorically. New York being New York, though, full of impatient people who understand the power of images, two separate plans were already in the works to restore the skyline right away. Two days after the disaster, Gustavo Bonevardi and John Bennett, a pair of young architects whose office is in the West Village, began E-mailing friends and potential supporters their proposal for a virtual re-creation, in projected light, of the World Trade Center towers, silhouetted against the nighttime skyline. At the same moment, entirely independently, the artists Paul Myoda and Julian LaVerdiere were working with Creative Time, a nonprofit arts organization, to develop an astonishingly similar proposal, which also involved the use of projected light. When the two teams heard about each other, they immediately got together and turned the two proposals into one, which they're calling "Towers of Light."

At one of many subsequent meetings in the architects' far from glossy office last week ("Watch out for holes in the floor," Bonevardi warned a visitor), the four principals agreed that hearing about each other's plan had been quite a surprise. "But our immediate reaction was one of solidarity," LaVerdiere said.

"We just want to get it built," John Bennett said, "and it seemed like there was a better chance if we all worked together."

"The aesthetics was secondary to the statement," said Bonevardi, who, at forty, is the oldest of the four. "There was even a sense of inevitability about collaborating--the way the firefighters and the police and the whole city have done in the rescue effort. And it's key that this is not a memorial. A memorial needs to be done, but that's not what this is. This is a statement to the rest of the world and to ourselves."

LaVerdiere and Myoda have worked with light before. In fact, they spent the past six months in a studio on the ninety-first floor of the World Trade Center's north tower, developing a "bioluminescent beacon," a light sculpture (using the light emitted by single-celled organisms, such as plankton) that was to be installed next year on the tower's radio antenna. …

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