In the spring of 2004 my friend OF and I exchanged approximately 950 emails that rambled on about architecture and cities. (I have saved all of the emails in a folder titled "millesmessages." At one point I thought it would be cool to put them all online somehow. I am wiser now, and OF is now a practicing architect.) To my recollection the correspondence developed and was underpinned by twin themes: the aesthetics of infrastructure; and the paradox of designing urban space so as to enable the accidental.
I recall all of this as my Internet begins to fill with news of the death of Lebbeus Woods (see also Steven Holl remembers Lebbeus Woods, not to mention An Architect Unshackled by Limits of the Real World, etc.). I also remember flipping through Radical Reconstruction, which OF had lent me, while lounging on MK's bed in her tiny Fort Greene apartment; that must have been the summer of 2001. Radical Reconstruction hit me like an anvil, though it wasn't until I came to Berlin, perhaps, that its lessons sunk in.
What I want to say is quite simple: I was jarred that Mr. Woods died in the same timeframe as Sandy engulfing The City, flooding the construction site where the World Trade Center towers used to be. For you see, in my correspondence with OF, I had always held that the best use of that infamous space would be none at all – just leave a hole in the ground, a gaping scar – and I had thought that my contention that a scar would be better than a Freedom Tower was somehow Woods-ian. (Lebbeus, though, had submitted a proposal of his own, which see, and OF and I had discussed it approvingly.)
But probably more jarring in the present context is Lower Manhattan Revisited, which a friend shared on FB by way of mourning Lebbeus.
For years I have thought that, in our discussion of the WTC site, OF had written, "Let Lebbeus build it!" Then I thought perhaps it was me who had written that. But no, I checked today: neither of us. Instead I find that, in 2005, in discussing the reconstruction of the Coney Island Parachute Pavilion, I wrote, "Hire Lebbeus," which just doesn't have the same ring as "Let Lebbeus build it!"
Yes, higher, Lebbeus.
Go in peace.