9/11 similarity puts Korean tower plan in doubt

"The Cloud," a design of two Seoul skyscrapers, is seen in this artist's rendering provided Dec. 12, 2011, by Dutch architectural company MVRDV. AP Photo/MVRDV

"The Cloud," a design of two Seoul skyscrapers, is seen in this artist's rendering provided Dec. 12, 2011, by Dutch architectural company MVRDV.  The Dutch architectural company has apologized for the skyscrapers' design that to some resembles the World Trade Center exploding during the 9/11 terror attacks.
"The Cloud," a design of two Seoul skyscrapers, is seen in this artist's rendering provided Dec. 12, 2011, by Dutch architectural company MVRDV.
AP Photo/MVRDV
A fiery blast rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.
A fiery blast rocks the south tower of the World Trade Center as hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston crashes into the building Sept. 11, 2001, in New York City.
Getty Images
A Dutch architectural firm might try to find a silver lining in its cloud that critics say resembles a World Trade Center under attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

Special Section: 9/11, Ten Years Later

The firm, MVRDV, apologized on its website Monday after being criticized for the resemblance between the exploding Twin Towers and the "pixelated cloud" designed to bridge two skyscrapers planned to rise above Seoul, South Korea.

"There is nothing finalized about the design," Seo Hee Seok, a spokesman for the project's developer, told Bloomberg News Tuesday.

The Seoul skyscrapers, designed to stretch 57 and 60 stories high, is planned for a development near U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, the headquarters for U.S. armed forces in the country, which is slated to return to South Korean control by 2016, Bloomberg reported.

In its apology, the firm said it wasn't its intention for the building to resemble the attacks and that no issues were raised about it while designing the structure.

"Don't insult our intelligence," John Feal, a first responder who lost part of his foot after being injured at ground zero, told CBS News station WCBS-TV in New York. "To many, the wound hasn't closed, so when you see pictures like that it keeps that wound open."

But to Washington Post art and architecture critic Phil Kennicott, the controversy appears to be an effort "to use the meaning of the terrorist attack for larger, more overbearing cultural control."

Kennicott writes further: "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."

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com

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