The Towers in Korea: What Humanity? – UPDATED

I saw this yesterday and wondered if it was a hoax:

The designers of the towers, Dutch architectural firm MVRDV, have responded to the controversy by quickly publishing an apology in English. “It was not our intention to create an image resembling the attacks,” the designers insist, “nor did we see the resemblance during the design process.”

They did not see the resemblance during the design process? The problem with this assertion – apart from its inherent implausibility – is that they have admitted the contrary in Dutch. Thus Jan Knikker of MVRDV told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, “I have to admit that we also thought of the 9/11 attacks.”

If this is real, it suggests that humanity has strayed so far from itself — its origins; it’s Creator — that it is in touch with something bestial and fiendish. I wonder when we finally finish ourselves off?

UPDATE: The designers apologize.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rick

    Let’s not take ourselves too seriously.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    When will we finish ourselves off?

    Sooner than we think, I fear.

    We are, indeed, in touch with something very evil. What this means for our future, I don’t want to think—except that the slippery slope is always more slippery than it seems at first.

  • MikeinCT

    IMHO, ironically, that would have been a good design for the, ahem, rebuilt towers at Ground Zero: “Despite the efforts of evil men, despite destruction, despite loss, we rebuild, we move forward, never to forget.”

  • Mike

    There was the Tower of Babel. That stood for what happens when man strays from the real God and tries to take over the operation himself.

    Aren’t we there in Babel and Babylon and so full of our own greatness. We can “fundamentally transform” anything we want, any time, with a speech, or speech codes, or laws, or regulations.

    We can regulate and command things that cross lines the Almighty Himself would not dare.

    Chesterton wrote (in “The Everlasting Man”) about ancient Carthage that they represented man’s dalliance with evil so as to make a bargain with it, and come off the better. He wrote that the Mediterranean Civilization was not big enough, morally, for the virtuous Old Rome and the monster Carthage. That push had to come to shove. That a showdown had to happen. That the very future lay in the balance.

    Between the culture that designed those towers, and the one that built the Cathedrals, there can only be war.

    Maybe it was already fought and we lost? Maybe it is yet to be fought. One way or another, it either has been fought or will be.

  • Young Canadian RC Male

    Well supposedly there’s this Chastizement coming or reving up to be in full motion ….

  • Todd


    People behaving badly toward one another: that’s the kind of imitation we should be detesting instead.

  • daisy

    You may remember that the Dutch have a lot of Muslim immigrants and they seem to be afraid of them. As for Korea, it’s been long past time for us to leave them and let them face the North Koeans on their own.

  • David E

    “If this is real, it suggests that humanity has strayed so far from itself — its origins; it’s Creator — that it is in touch with something bestial and fiendish. I wonder when we finally finish ourselves off?”

    That’s a rather strong conclusion to reach from the fact that a building was constructed in really bad taste.

    Besides, when I look at the world I can see as much reason for optimism as pessimism. Despite what people conclude watching the news violence has diminished enormously over the past decades. Have you heard of Stephen Pinker’s new book THE BETTER ANGELS OF OUR NATURE: WHY VIOLENCE HAS DECLINED?

  • flodigarry

    No sentient person would fail to recognize the “homage” to the twin towers on 9/11. What I want to know is given that, who will want to reside in those buildings? Bad karma.

  • Will

    Per Wikipedia, there are about 850,000 Muslims in a population of about 16.8 million in The Netherlands. If there is any bad intent, it is probably more on the part of the designers or the Korean clients. More information is needed to determine that.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Two buildings celebrating the deaths of thousands on 9/11?

    That’s a bit more than just “bad taste”, David E.

    As for the better angels of our nature. . . they don’t seem to be much in evidence, at the moment. One always hopes for the best; on the other hand, you don’t delude yourself. . .

  • Diane

    Very disturbing design, even moreso that they’re trying to claim they never noticed the resemblance. Come on.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As for the book you link to. . . well, the 20th Century was one of the most violent in history, with millions killed by totalitarian governments. The 21st doesn’t look like it’s reversing that trend.

    A more accurate book might be Rummel’s, “Death by Government.”

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    They not only noticed the resemblance—they deliberately created it.

    Really, I’d have a lot more respect for people like this if they’d just come right out and admit, “Yes, we did that deliberately!” (I’d still hate it, but at least I’d respect them for being honest about their motives, rather than trying to weasel out of it; oh, gee, golly-whiz, heckety-whackets! Doest that lil’ ol design of ours remind you of 9/ll? Gosharooties, we didn’t mean it too—cross our hearts!” Feh!)

  • Dynan

    It is unbelievable to me, but if you say so, it must be.

  • Sarah

    Can we all try to at least put on the act of keeping a level head for a second?

    The fact is, humanity has been violent, cruel, insensitive and stupid since the beginning of time. Now, this move is only the last two, and it’s not unique. Can we please take a step back and acknowlede that, for all our flaws– which we have always had and will always will have– the civilized world has come a long way. We no longer put two men in an arena and watch them fight to the death for sport. We no longer cut the hands off people who steal common goods from us. In the past century, we’ve gone from openly and legally and socially acceptably lynching people on the streets for being a different color, to having a black president, his poor leadership notwithstanding.

    I’m just calling for a little perspective, here. This is not the first repulsively distasteful design to ever grace the earth, nor will it be the last. It’s not a portent of the end of Man, just as the much more disgusting crimes against humanity (which this, if I must remind you, is not) were not. Can you really sit there and say that while the slaughter of nations throughout history were not a sign of the world being irredeemable, this poor and insensitive design is? Are we, as Americans, that narcissistic?

    I’m sick of the constant bile. Isn’t anyone else? “Man is wolf to man” has become a favorite saying of mine lately because it seems like people forget that people are fallen, and that people have always done bad things to each other, and always will. The best we can do is be beacons of light who transcend the darker side of humanity. We spend so much time thinking about the evil in the world, it seems like we leave a lot less time to be good as individuals. And the goodness and resilience of humanity is much more reliant on individual goodness and “small acts of kindness” than whatever monstrosity is erected in Korea.

    Right now, a small act of kindness that the pundits of the internet, and their commenters, could pay us all would be to stop being so quick to incite outrage. Isn’t there enough anger in the world?

    *drops mic and walks off stage*

    [I don't think I'm inciting outrage, here. I hope I'm inciting introspection. I have no conceit that 9/11 was a worse outrage against humanity than Auschwitz or the Gulag. I wouldn't want to see architects building homages to them, either. Because I think our cavalier acceptance of it would say something unspeakable about how desensitized we have become. And, you may disagree -- I'm find with disagreement; we all have our opinions -- but I think that sort of desensitivity does not ultimately serve God, but the nemesis. -admin]

  • Manny

    I’ll take their word that it wasn’t intended to reflect on our Twin Towers. Who would spend millions of dollars to make some silly point if that’s what was intended? Besides all that, that is absolutely horrid architecture. It’s downright repulsive.

  • Peadar Ban

    Yes, it is possible to think that the peculiar building bear a resemblance to photos taken of the WTC on 9/11. I can’t for a moment think why anyone would do something like that, but, hey. Someone might want to make a public housing project that looked like Auschwitz. Go figure.

    But the more I look at that photo the more I think it resembles a couple of buildings sticking up through some low lying clouds. I’ve seen pictures of the buildings in SF like that.

    And, you know what? I can’t for the life of me figure out why anyone would want to do that either.

    Ain’t there enough important stuff going on?

  • V

    (((The best we can do is be beacons of light who transcend the darker side of humanity.)))

    Shame on you Anchoress! What are you UP to anyway! “IT” is not like this world is still committing all kinds of terrible sins the way they did in the past. There’s no more abortions, well hardly any more, OK$ humanity does allows the odd ones here and there NOW and then but over all, we’re doing much better. Who do you know that goes around complaining that we’re killing humans any more in battles like they did in the past and if you don’t believe me just ask your good friend Doctor Wesley J Smith who writes about these matters all the time cause I’m sure that he’ll tell you that he’s also exajuryhating.

    Lightened UP Anchoress, the next thing you’ll be pointing out to U>S (usual sinners) is that there’s something wrong with GOD (Good Old Dad) not agreeing to the Blessing of same-sex-marriages.

    I hear ya! Sorry Victor! Do you think “IT” would help if I stop reading all those emails you keep sending me? :)


    Victor walks off stage and forgets to drop the mic! :)


  • justamouse

    When I first glanced at the picture here I thought there was a 9/11 memorial I missed.

    Perhaps that image isn’t burned in to their psyche as it is ours?

  • Anthony S. Layne

    On the other hand, if we didn’t have 9/11 burned on our brains, and that wasn’t the image the designers were going for, it would simply be another inexplicable, meaningless piece of post-modern expressionism.

  • Thomas R

    Is it possible that this is actually innocent? I mean I remember reading of people in 21st c. India who thought Hitler was good because he fought the British, but then on learning more about him were like “oh my, that’s awful.” Some people are just really ignorant.

    As for “offing ourselves”, I really think humanity’s self-preservation instincts are way underestimated. If we kill ourselves I think it’ll be by accident or stupidity, not malice.

  • Sarah

    Elizabeth, I should have started off by saying that this is the first post I’ve ever read of yours that I haven’t liked. I just think your final paragraph just seemed very hyperbolic.

    “If this is real, it suggests that humanity has strayed so far from itself — its origins; it’s Creator — that it is in touch with something bestial and fiendish.”

    I don’t think I can really be blamed for thinking it sounds like you thought other REAL crimes against humanity were not suggestions that Man strays from its Creator. Like, “Oh, well we were fine until they built this building. Now we’re all really going to hell.”

    I’m not desensitized… I think I’m being realistic.

    Yes, it’s bad. I realize that; I think most Americans, especially, realize that because as many commenters have said, those images are burned into our memories and bring trauma back to the surface. But a design by a couple of people hardly says anything about the entirety of humanity. If people are accepting of anything, I think it’s that.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Thomas R., in India, yes, some might have thought Hitler was good.

    This comes from Holland. Which was conquered by the Nazis. The home of Anne Frank. These people know, or should know, what it’s like to submit to horror.

    They meant those buildings to look exactly like what they did—triumphal memorials to 9/11, and the defeat of the eeeeeevil Amerikkkan capitalists.

    No, we don’t make people fight to the death in arenas any more. We put them in gulags, concentration camps and “Re-education” camps instead. Christian persecution, and anti-semetism, are on the rise, and we seem to be moving towards yet another holocaust, while some who remember the first are still alive. If you dare point this out, you’re “Inciting outrage.”

    Something very dark is abroad in the world. I don’t know if “small acts of kindness” will be enough to save us. We need to pray.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Just a few years ago, even if a couple of people had the idea for this design, they wouldn’t have had the nerve to make it public. If they had, their prospective clients wold have said something like, “Uh, this is really not a good idea, guys.” Now? They not only design their homage to 9/11, they actually put it out in the open, for all to see, and give only the lamest of excuses for doing so. And, why not? Isn’t it the accepted wisdom in many circles, that America brought 9/11 on itself? That it was just “Chickens coming home to roost?” Really, if we’d just change our foreign policy (translation: “Stop supporting Israel already, America!”) we wouldn’t have any problems. As for those 3,000 who died that day, they don’t count, so why be sensitive about their memory? They weren’t on the approved victim list.

    That the architects could get away with this is yet another sign that the West, and western values, are not looked upon kindly by much of the rest of the world.

    No, it’s not like it’s the worst thing that ever happened—but it’s one of the many benchmarks, and signposts we’re seeing more and more of, that the world around us is changing, and headed in a very dark direction.

    Interesting, by the way, that this post has inspired so much anger, and “Oh no, it can’t be!” The truth can be hard to take; reality is frequently ugly.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    justamouse, the image is burned into their psyche. How could it not be, in this day of worldwide communications?

    You’re right, however, that they don’t see it the way we do. I suspect when they looked at pics of 9/11, something like the old song, “Sunshine/lollipops!/Rainbows/everything!” blah, blah, blah, runs through their heads. Must bring down that American imperialist, you know!

    The 3,000 who died on 9/ll were not on the approved victims list.

    We need to pray.

  • Sarah

    “No, we don’t make people fight to the death in arenas any more. We put them in gulags, concentration camps and “Re-education” camps instead.”

    We do? Where are these camps, exactly?

    “Something very dark is abroad in the world.

    Something dark has always been abroad in the world; it’s called Satan. He’s been around for a while.

    “I don’t know if “small acts of kindness” will be enough to save us. We need to pray.”

    What if there was a culture war and no one showed up? What I mean is, if more people worked on their own goodness, there would be more good people. Of course we need to pray. I think that counts as a small, but good act, don’t you?

    “If you dare point this out, you’re “Inciting outrage.””

    Yeah, and if you dare point out that Christ preached simplicity and peace, you’re labelled a bleeding heart, desensitized pinko/hippie/liberal.

  • David E

    “As for the better angels of our nature. . . they don’t seem to be much in evidence, at the moment.”

    Death from violence has dropped every decade since World War 2. That seems like cause for hope to me.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Death from violence where, David?

    The Middle-East? Africa? China? Indonesia? America’s inner cities?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Sarah, where, in this post, or anywhere in this thread, has anyone criticized the teachings of Christ, or said that He didn’t favor simplicity, and peace?

    He also said He came to bring not peace but a sword, and drove the money-changers out of the temple. Christ was, and is, many things: complex, simple, healer, teacher, preacher, God and man. No one is criticizing Him by pointing out the awfulness of these buildings commemorating (in the wrong way) 9/11, or by suggesting that this might not be a good sign of things to come.

    Ignoring Satan does not work. I am sorry the world is in the state it is today, and I am sorry this article upset you. It is upsetting. However, don’t blame the messenger.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    The camps, and gulags, existed throughout the 20th Century—that long ago time, when we were supposedly becoming nicer and more peaceful; China is still a very oppressive nation, that imprisons its dissidents; Vietnam persecutes Christians. In Indonesia and the Philippines are attacking Christians.

    The Copts are being persecuted in Egypt, under the auspices of the much ballyhooed “Arab spring”. Christians are being driven out of Iraq. Jews are once again being attacked in Europe, by Islamic mobs. They aren’t being put in camps—yet In the U.S., anti-semetism is becoming more an more blatant; Israel is being demonized and isolated. Hamas is firing rockets at Israeli civilians. The Iranian green revolution was put down with great cruelty, and, yes, many of the dissidents were killed, or “disappeared”.

    In America, we have millions of abortions each year. . . shall I go on?

    To point these things out is not to criticize Jesus, or simplicity, or even random acts of kindness. It’s a reminder that Satan, like a roaring lion, is always looking for prey, and we need to be watchful. Again, I am sorry this upsets you, but messengers only report conditions, they don’t create them. . .

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Anchoress, it looks as if you inadvertently struck a nerve with this post.

    Hence, I think you must be on to something; when you hit on a truth, people become angry. That’s the way it goes.

  • Sarah

    I never said anyone was criticizing Christ’s teachings; they just seem to be forgetting them.

    You’re missing my point, and there’s nothing I can do about that. Honestly, I don’t know where you get the idea that I’m any more upset than you, who apparently thinks we’re all doomed, judging by these comments.

    I have faith in the goodness of people, and that the grace of God ultimately triumphs. So I’m not going to let myself be inflamed all the time. I don’t see how anyone who uses all their energy to be will have any strength left when it’s really needed.

    It’s hard for me to convey exactly what I mean, so I’ll leave it at that.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Sarah, your remarks about “What if there was a culture war and no showed up?” and, “If you dare point out Christ preached simplicity and peace you’re labeled a desensitized pinko/hippie/liberal” seemed to indicate that you did think christ’s teachings were being criticized here. (Also, that you were being insulted and labeled, which was not the case. These comments also seemed to indicate anger. I am sorry if I misread you.)

    I don’t think we’re all doomed.

    I thinke we need to be watchful. There is a difference.

    God’s grace will always triumph, in the end. However, the way there can be hard, dangerous and trying. 20th Century Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, had a lot to say about grace, and the cost of discipleship. It might be good for us all to read him, now.

  • Revert Al


    It might be helpful at this point to observe that artists
    (in this group I also include a certain number of
    architects) are prone to “head in the clouds” thinking
    (pun NOT intended) that makes this kind of thing
    inevitable. Consider the architect of the Vietnam
    Memorial in Washington D.C. as an example who
    offended a significant number of people with
    her design (though not significant enough to prevent
    building the project). As long as you are not paying for it
    (e.g. with your taxes, or because you commissioned
    the work) I think that a sigh and a murmer of
    “there they go again” is more appropriate than

  • Evangeline Bellefontaine

    I don’t know. When I first looked at the photo, I saw two buildings peeking out of the clouds. I thought it was beautiful and the “cloud section” seemed really impressive and almost triumphant to me. It makes me sad that people automatically assume/assign violent meaning to the builidngs. Maybe I’m naive: but I personally didn’t see 9/11 here. Of course, after everyone pointed out the resemblance, I guess I now see it. But that’s not where my mind went inititally at all. Perhaps we should resist the impulse to see the ugly.

  • Libby

    From the apology:
    “So even if the Dutch design firm, MVRDV intended a reference to 9/11, there’s no reason that reference should be read as mocking or ironic. It might easily be seen as an effort to freeze frame a traumatic event, in architectural form, and neutralize its shock and pain.”

    Isn’t that precisely why the design is offensive? What other terrorist attacks or other mass-murdering tragedies do they need to ‘neutralize the shock and pain’ of via architecture?