Freedom Tower’s Twin
After the very public brouhaha over the design of the Freedom Tower, after all the press accounts of the roiling tension and tantrums between the architects David Childs and Daniel Libeskind, wouldn’t it be something if the final design—as unveiled last Dec. 19—resembles not so much the two men’s shared vision as a Catholic church built in Tokyo?
Recently, 93-year-old Marjorie Stolley was going through some slides that she and her husband had taken on a 1968 trip through Asia when, suddenly, a very familiar-looking silhouette appeared. Some quick detective work—i.e., showing the photo to a producer at NHK (Japan Broadcasting Company)—revealed it to be Saint Mary’s Cathedral, built in Tokyo by architect Kenzo Tange in 1964.
Mr. Tange, who was born in 1913 in Osaka, was an avid follower of Le Corbusier’s modernism. His first major project was the Hiroshima Peace Center–Peace Memorial Museum, completed in the early 1950’s. He taught at the University of Tokyo, and built twin stadiums for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics that resemble overturned seashells. The arc of his career was compared to the modernization of Japan as it emerged from the rubble of World War II. While well-respected in architectural circles, Mr. Tange never achieved superstar status.
It turns out that none other than David Childs is a great admirer of Mr. Tange’s work. He told The Observer that he toured Saint Mary’s on a visit to Tokyo, when he was staying at the nearby Four Seasons Hotel.