Too Soon?

December 15, 2011

Political Theory

Two tall skyscrapers built with a cloud in between them; a cloud that is actually part of the building and connects the two. This is the newest proposed architectural plan for a construction site in Seoul, South Korea. Designed by a Dutch architectural company, it is basically the flagship design of the company. Extremely architecturally innovative, the connection between the two towers is modeled after a pixelated cloud. The cloud is other rooms and offices and the top of the cloud is terraces and gardens. However, there is a large amount of controversy surrounding the design. Let’s take a look at the design…


As you can see, it has a striking resemblance to something extremely personal and tragic to almost every American, and a lot of the world in general. The design has an incredible resemblance to the 9/11 attacks, the cloud being the smoke from the impact of the planes. Obviously many Americans are incredibly upset that these designs exist, not to mention are planned to actually be built. September 11th, an incredibly tragic terrorist attack on our country that killed thousands and left many families with a lost parent, child, or friend, and another country wants to build a building that looks just like the attacks?! Obviously you can tell why many people are extremely upset about these plans.


However, the architecture company and the PR chief say they did not realize the resemblance. Personally, I do not believe this for a second. Someone involved in the design process must have realized the similarities. September 11th was a world wild event, and almost everyone heard of what happened. It sparked a war that has lasted years and is only just this week coming to an end. So, how can they honestly say they did not notice the design similarities?

Furthermore, an article by Lucy Williamson of BBC shows that the people of South Korea don’t find a problem with the design either. Though some realize the similarities, they say there “is no law saying it can’t be built.” This comes off as direct disregard of our nation and our feelings, in my opinion.

But what would the political theorists from or class say? Mill advocates freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas, but this doesn’t seem to be a “speech” or an “idea.” This is why I don’t think Mill would defend the design with freedom of speech. But, maybe he would. There is no political theorist that talks directly about this issue. So, what do you think? Currently the firm plans to continue with the plans with no alterations to the design.




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11 Comments on “Too Soon?”

  1. ryanjcarney Says:

    I agree, the resemblance is shocking and 9/11 was the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture of the proposed picture… That said, I don’t think they’re obligated to stop or change the designs for the building unless they really wanted to. I find it really hard to believe some Dutchmen and South Korea had a plan to build something similar to the 9/11 attacks just to stick it to the United States or mock us in some way. They outright said that it wasn’t their intention so any sort of bold statement of Anti-Americanism is totally lost. Taking offense may be going a little overboard in my opinion. The architects and/or the country of South Korea may see an incentive to changing their plans in the future in the face of criticism in order to save their reputation though. Either way, it’s totally up to them.

    I don’t think there’s any question that Mill would defend their right to design and build this thing – it could be seen as a statement after all. Architecture is an art form and thus shouldn’t should be defended, no matter what offense some may take.

    • kirtip Says:

      I suppose you are right that Mill would think that the towers being built would be an expression of opinion, and thus it is their right to build what they want. If it truly is an art form and expression of idea then there is nothing anyone can do, whether the design is offensive or not. I do, however, think it is in poor taste for them to follow through with the construction of the building without significant changes. I also would argue that there is nothing wrong with an American taking offense. It is a very close resemblance to one of the most tragic events in our country’s history. So, obviously, it is offensive to our country in at least some way.

  2. pjbiondi Says:

    It is pretty clear that the picutre of the new towers being built in South Korea look like the Twin Towers. I would expect North Korea to build buildings like this and I was more shocked when I saw that it was South Korea. It would make me pretty upset if these building were built because it would bring back memorize of a time where our country was attacked. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when those planes hits the Twin Towers.

    With that being said I don’t think the project inventors would design these buildings to represent the 9/11 attacks. I also don’t think that they are going to have to stop building because of what people think it represents. Mill would be on the project inventor’s side because this is what they want to build and they have every right to build it.

    I will still be upset if/ when they are built but at the same time we don’t live in South Korea and we don’t have to look at the building.

  3. jps3520 Says:

    I find it sort of disturbing, but I don’t think we should stop them from building it. If 9/11 would have never happened, I would look at the building and just remark about how cool of an idea it was to make something like that. Now I don’t know. I don’t think that they did it on purpose, but you’ve got to assume that someone who saw the idea before it made a public debut would have made the connection. I guess that’s easy to say for someone who grew up in the US and can remember where they were when the towers got hit. For people around the world it would get put in the world news category, and I would be lying if I said that I paid really any attention to news from around the world. I figure that there are a lot of terrible things that have probably happened in the past month around the world that are making others feel the same way we felt about 9/11, just maybe on a smaller scale and I have no clue what they are. I know that Japan got hit with a tsunami but I don’t think about it anywhere near as much as I’ve thought about 9/11. So for me it’s believable that they didn’t try to make the towers look like the World Trade Center towers, but I still wish someone would have known and spoke up.

    On the idea of stopping the towers from being built, I don’t know that anyone should make that happen. Is it in bad taste for the people building it to go through with the plan? Sure. Have Americans produced things that have offended people throughout the rest of the world? Definitely. I don’t know why this is the only thing I can think of, but during the tsunami Gilbert Gottfried tweeted a whole bunch of insensitive jokes (he also made an insensitive joke 3 weeks after 9/11). He lost his job as the voice of the Aflac duck, but all people around here did was say “too soon,” and moved on. He still has a career. I think where you’re from makes a big difference in how these things are viewed, and 9/11 just doesn’t carry the same significance throughout the world as it does here (much like the tsunami doesn’t carry the same significance to people here).

  4. thelenj1 Says:

    The pictures of the design really shocked me. I cannot believe anyone would make a design that resembles such a horrific event. The architects were simply ignorant or really just thoughtlessness. Thousands of people were killed and even if they hated America this is quite an immature way to display it. That being said, they do have a right to build the building if they want to. Just because the design makes people upset does not mean that they should not be able to. It is like the KKK protesting, it is very offensive to a lot of people, but they still have the right to express their opinions. I agree with the last comment and think Mills would defined their right to build their design. Art can be very expressive and say a lot. Expression does not necessarily need to be in the form of words. It is very sad that they would want to build something like this, but they definitely have the right to do so if they please.

  5. jonkeren Says:

    I think that the creation of these bulidings in South Korea is extremely disrespectful and an insult to Americans as a whole. I am a New Yorker and remember when the Twin towers went down. I was in third grade and we were let out of school earlier that day. I remember going home that day and watching the video of the planes flying into the twin towers again and again. This is a day that I will never forget and the fact that a building proposal looks similar to the twin towers collapsing is a huge insult. He puts salt in the wounds. I don’t know whats worse, the creation of this building or the creation of the mosque near ground zero. I hope that they do not go through and create this building, and if they do it is truly a shame.

  6. drstattik Says:

    I do not have a problem with these tower designs. I admit that when I first saw a picture of the design I immediately thought “WOAH, World Trade Center, way too soon.” But after reading more into it I understood the design more. It was a Swedish design group designing a building in South Korea, it is not far fetched that they didnt realize the resemblance since 9/11 was a big event for Americans, it did not have much impact on Sweden or Korea. If an American design company was making a building for Russia and accidently made a design that resembled the engine of a train that was bombed in Spain would there still be the same outcry from Americans? I actually find the idea really cool of two buildings with a ‘cloud’ around them. This building will be a staple in the cities skyline and the it is a good IDEA to have it look like from a distance that there is a permanent cloud wrapped on these buildings. It was a good idea but I do think that they should alter the plans a little now that they realize the resemblance so that the two towers that the cloud attaches too do not look so similar to the world trade center towers. It was a good idea and a horrible coincidence with their design, but it was designed with positive intentions and therefore I think they should keep it the way it is!

  7. schoemad Says:

    The resemblance of the these new towers to the Twin Towers that once stood in New York City is too similar for me to be comfortable with it. Honestly, this building’s design is pretty disrespectful, but at least it wasn’t built or designed in the United States. Also it is definitely possible that the designers didn’t have that in mind. I think sometimes as Americans, we expect the main spotlight. We expect the attention to be directed towards us and I think sometimes we are a little showy. Being an American, we also feel that we are the leaders and the best in regards to the rest of the world. We are the nation that others look up to and I think we expect respect. Unfortunately, this construction of this building we probably occur in the future. I feel that Mill might place this under the Harm Principle. The families of all the victims of 9/11 I believe would be very disgusted and hurt by the construction of this building. It’s a physical reminder of the decimation of the building that changed their lives forever and it would cause them great emotional pain.

  8. pelarkin Says:

    Although there is a resemblance between these two buildings and the towers of the World Trade Center, and it reminds some of us of that horrific day, I do not see why the developers should not be allowed to go forth with this project. I absolutely refuse to believe that the 9/11 attacks were what the developers had in mind when they were designing these, as absolutely no human being would do something like that, unless they were directly affiliated with some sort of terrorist organization. The fact that these buildings are in South Korea makes me doubt it even more, due to the fact that we are South Korea’s personal guardians from that country to the north. If anything, I think that this project should be stopped because the buildings look stupid, not the fact that they remind some people of 9/11.

    I also think that Mill wouldn’t have a problem with this idea, for one main reason, which is the fact that (I believe, at least, that) these developers were not trying to harm anyone with their designs. Although it may remind some people of the terrorist attacks, as I stated before, I find it hard to believe that these people were directly trying to invoke memories of that horrible day to make Americans feel bad, as that just doesn’t make any sense at all. Since this particular expression is not directly meant to harm anyone, Mill would have absolutely no problem with it. Now, if the developers were directly trying to build something similar to the terrorist attacks, then, obviously, he would have a problem with it, as would everyone else. However, until I see some actual proof that these developers were trying to poke fun at the Americans for our terrible losses, I refuse to believe that this project shouldn’t be allowed to go forward.

  9. lmaren Says:

    I don’t understand why they feel like it is appropriate to build this in South Korea. That seems really random to me and there is not close, personal connection. 9/11 happened in America, and other nations should not have a right to take our symbols and recreate them, making it theirs as well. I doubt that people would be very happy if we created a Berlin wall, or a bomb site from Hiroshima. Those are tragedies that happened to others in different countries, and although we may greatly respect their sacrifices, we do not have the right to take their symbolic meaning and make them our own. For that reason, I find it offensive that South Korea believes that they can take our symbol of 9/11 and make it theirs. There may not be a law against it, but ethically, they should know that we deserve to keep American tragedy symbols our own.

  10. danielpienkowski Says:

    I also find it very hard to believe that the architecture company didn’t see the resemblance their building has to the twin towers. After all, there were numerous individuals involved in choosing and approving the design, so I doubt that it didn’t cross anyone’s mind. I believe that their freedom of speech is being exercised here, even though it is in extremely bad taste and offensive to many. I find this very similar to the Westboro Baptist Church and their protests. Their protests have made headlines for how disrespectful they were, and many argue that this crosses a line in the whole freedom of speech debate. The Church does have limitations – for example, bills and laws have been reviewed and passed in different cities making protesting too close to funerals a crime. Yet they still protest with signs such as “Thank God for 9/11,” an act which is still fully legal here. Now as much as their message angers me and many others, they do have the right to express what they believe in. Similarly with these buildings – although the design seems extremely inconsiderate, they still have to right to create and design what they see fit.

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