Tuesday, February 12, 2013

“Build Me the Tallest”

One person who didn’t die on September 11, 2001 was Guy Tozzoli, then the head of the World Trade Centers Association and decades earlier a leading force behind the building of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Tozzoli had an office on the 77th floor of the North Tower, but on September 11 2001 he hadn’t yet arrived at work when the first plane struck. He did not die until this month Saturday, aged 90; his obituary appears in the February 7 New York Times.

It’s often assumed that an urge to build the biggest or the tallest is a form of ambition likely to be found only among capitalist tycoons (or perhaps among architects)—that it’s not something you’d find in a bureaucrat. Tozzoli was evidence to the contrary. As Director of the World Trade Department for the Port Authority of New York (the government body under the auspices of which the World Trade Center was constructed), he played a key part in making the twin towers the world’s tallest buildings. According to the Times, it was Tozzoli who pushed Minoru Yamasaki, the architect, to make the towers 110 stories tall, when Yamasaki’s preference had been for 80-storey towers. “President Kennedy is going to put a man on the moon,” Tozzoli is quoted as saying to Yamasaki; “you’re going to build me the tallest buildings in the world.” And so they were, albeit only from 1971 to 1973. From then until 1998 the title of world’s tallest building was held by the Sears Tower in Chicago; then the title was taken by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur—like the World Trade Center, the brainchild not of tycoons in private business but of a government body (the state-owned oil company Petronas). More proof, if any be needed, that the ambition to be the tallest is not the preserve of private enterprise.

* * *

I started posting on this site this month for the first time since June of 2011; during the past couple of years my spare time has been taken up largely with writing a new novel. It's called Rising Stories, and it's now under consideration by publishers in both the US and Canada. If you'd like to have a look at the new novel in draft form, please email me (don.lepan@broadviewpress.com) and I'll be happy to send along an electronic copy.

No comments:

Post a Comment