The new logo for One World Trade Center, which The Commercial Observer unveiled to the public last week, has made fans of some, detractors of others.
This writer liked the icon for its simplicity and it’s timeless qualities. In some ways it’s reminiscent of a 1970s building logo, which is a fitting touch, given the 1 World Trade Center’s historical importance on a hallowed site that has seen the destruction of two 1970s skyscrapers.
Others like, like reader “ML Donovan,” thought the spire in the “One” looked like “a middle finger to the people.” My colleague and master chief Jotham Sederstrom thought the logo lacked a modern touch.
Many at the The Commercial Observer’s office wondered aloud as to why The Durst Organization and The Port Authority, the owners of One World Trade, eschewed their patriotic duty by hiring London-based branding company Wordsearch for the gig?
“We hired them because they are the best of the business,” explained Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for The Durst Organization.
Wordsearch, which does branding and communications for real estate and architectural firms, does have an impressive resume. The company has designed the branding for the International Commerce Centre in Hong Kong, The Broadgate Tower in London, and the Hudson Yards development in New York City.
After both Matt Flynn and William Murray, the co-directors of Wordsearch, pitched its design ideas to Cushman & Wakefield, The Durst Organization and The Port Authority in December 2009, the duo was hired to create the new logo.
Wordsearch instantly went to work, spending the next 6-to-9 months getting to grips with the complexity of the World Trade Center site.
“That was the first part of our process, was really sitting down with as many stakeholders we could, within reason, and to understand what this building meant to those various stakeholders,” said Mr. Flynn.
At that point, One World Trade Center had 600,000 square feet of underground space completed.
“About 200 feet of steel was coming out of the ground when we first got involved,” said Mr. Murray.
As One World Trade Center took shape, the duo turned to the skyline to help them hone down the color of the logo.
Wordsearch hired photographer Richard Berenholtz to take a series of shots of the New York skyline throughout the year, at different times during the day and night.
“One of the things that came out was the extraordinary range of colors that’s visible in the sky in New York throughout the year, from deep purple to dark blues to electric blues to exquisite oranges,” said Mr. Flynn.
Then there was the design of the logo itself. For the font, they used a “slightly customized” version of Hoefler & Frere-Jones’s Gotham to hearken back to the “attractive and unassuming lettering of old New York City buildings.”
The font had personality and was assertive and confident, the firm says in a marketing pamphlet.
Then there was the number “one” in the building’s name, which both men felt should be the focal point of the design.
The one symbolized the image of “being one amongst many, being first amongst many, of being the number one choice, of being New York’s number one icon,” said Mr. Flynn.
The team also focused on the new tower’s spire, which, when installed, will be perhaps among the most identifiable characteristic’s of 1 World Trade Center. That spire, the team says, will also cause onlookers to simply look up at the top of the tower, an act that carries an added symbolism to a space with a difficult history.
“We wanted to capture all the positive stuff that goes along with that, kind of hope and optimism and aspiration and forward thinking and progression,” said Mr. Flynn.
While the logo does not feature the finished building in its entirety as other proposed designs did in a 2009 NY Times article, the end result, the firm says, aims to be “sufficiently visionary and ambitious to acknowledge the broader context and wider significance of this building.”