No, SOM didn’t copy One World Trade Center


↑ Some guy’s design (left), SOM’s One World Trade Center (right).

News recently broke that SOM might have copied design of One World Trade Center. Long story short, some guy in 1999 made his student project which looks like SOM’s One World Trade Center. And now he wants fame. Most major architectural news websites reposted this from Reuters. Fast Company even shared a PDF of a suit. Archinect asked “Did SOM rip off this architect’s designs for One World Trade Center?”, but didn’t give any answers. So let us explain why this is bullshit.

↑ Models of OMA’s Essence Financial Building

Firstly, the picture above. It is showing 160 study models by OMA for their Essence Financial Building in Shenzhen, China. Although none of these models look like One World Trade Center, it demonstrates the amount of work and research which goes in to development of a skyscraper. Naturally, a company like SOM with longer history and bigger than OMA, has done tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands studies and models for different shapes of towers. So probability is that if they copied anyone’s design, it was their own.

Secondly, let’s look at the plans. Guy suing SOM shows his and SOM’s plans next to each other, trying to prove resemblance. However, it just clearly shows that buildings are completely different. Sure, the outline is similar, however every square tower in the world has same plan outline. It is almost as if Mies could claim ownership of every second tower in the world. Anybody who has worked on skyscrapers knows that in the plan, tower outline has almost no importance, because all what is critical is the core. This internal logic and strategy of the core is crucial to make a plan of the tower and in that sense these two designs could not be more different.

And finally, it is boring simple design. Square at the bottom and rotated 45 degrees square at the top. Any student who has or soon will witness their recent design built by SOM should be ashamed. This is the best proof of your failure as a student. If the best as a student, in your early 20’s, you can only come up with something what David Childs, 76 years architect, can get built, you know, there is something wrong. SOM is a fine company, however nobody goes to work with them expecting great imagination and new concepts. It is a huge corporate structure which simply gets big and complex things done, nothing for any student to aim for.

So, if claimant thinks that he came up with a great original idea and SOM copied, he is wrong. He simply came up with a boring unimaginative design as a student. Nothing to be proud of, but now everybody knows that. Genius.


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