You don’t always get a call from a Larry Silverstein on an ordinary Monday. “I’ve heard about you”, he said. Eighteen hours later we landed in New York.
Future of the past
Larry Silverstein himself is a legend in New York. He is the man who completed the largest real estate transaction in the city’s history when he signed a 99-year lease on the former World Trade Center – only to see it destroyed in terrorist attacks six weeks later on September 11, 2001. Four years later, we stood on the 20th floor of 7 World Trade Center, looking down onto the vast building site. “Seven Million people come here every year”, he said, “but what they see is the past. What I would like to show them is the future.”
A window into the future
So what we built with SOM architects as partners is a marketing suite on the 20th floor, with a Virtual Window as its center piece. It was built out of screens and a camera displaying a live image. But this would have only been the image of the building site – if there wouldn’t have been a virtual, three-dimensional layer of the future quarter. With your hand you could steer the camera through a gesture frame – with your finger you could point right into the future.
Architects can rebuild a city, and it’s going to take several years to heal the wounds. Communication designers can create a vision, so people are able to see the future again. It’s going to take a few moments – to regain hope.