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Case Number 22718: Small Claims Court

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Engineering Ground Zero

PBS // 2011 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 12th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson recently engineered a kick-ass popsicle stick log cabin.

The Charge

So, no one liked my idea of a towering concrete and glass middle finger?

The Case

There has been no shortage of controversy and second-guessing swirling around what to build—or if to build—in the footprints of the World Trade Center. Ultimately, the Port Authority opted to erect 1 WTC, the tallest skyscraper in the world, buttressed by a solemn memorial. This NOVA special documents the engineering phase of the massive project as well as the beginnings of its construction.

We see interviews with 1 WTC architect David Childs, Chris War of the Port Authority, Michael Arad, the winner of the memorial design competition and Michael Bloomberg who, of course, is a tool.

While Engineering Ground Zero tends to play it safe as far as the PR firestorm that sometimes engulfed the projects, it's obvious how much of a venture this all is. Childs in particular is faced with designing a building that is a) huge and awesome, b) safe from future terrorist attacks and c) "green." Oh, and there's a punishing deadline for it all to happen. Yeah, good luck with that.

Just track down your favorite news aggregate provider and type in "1 WTC" to see the series of challenges that have befallen the project. Heck, just today I found an article from the New York Observer that stated the prism glass that was supposed to coat the outside of the building was found to be too impractical and expensive and has been shelved. To date, $10 million has been spent on glass. Oof. Also, the cool glass is one of centerpieces talked about in this documentary. Double oof.

These harsh facts take some shine off the content, but I'll look on the bright side: the engineering info is genuinely interesting. Supporting the interviews and narration are well-executed and eye-pleasing visual effects outlining the engineering particulars, like the concrete-based "core" of the building and how the skyscraper is designed to withstand catastrophic impact. Red, hot architect porn.

No-frills DVD: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 2.0 stereo, no extras.

The Verdict

Yes, 1 WTC may or may not turn into an expensive public works boondoggle, but I live near the Big Dig, so I'm willing to grant a wide berth. Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 85

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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