In what one architect referred to as “the last step in the rebranding of something that has disappeared,” New York’s World Trade center has settled on a new visual identity.
The work of a distinguished corporate branding shop headquartered in New York, the new abstract trident logo recalls shapes of structures both standing and lost. It manages to connote remembrance of the aftermath of the 2001 attacks while at the same time encompasses redevelopment, echoing structures standing and proposed today on the site. From David W. Dunlap’s piece in the New York Times:
Can you see a trident — an abstract trident recalling those three-fingered steel columns at the base of the twin towers, still standing after the 2001 attack, symbolizing New York City’s resilience?
It is there, in the World Trade Center’s new logo, which was revealed on Wednesday when the latest display panels were installed along a construction fence on Vesey Street.
Do you discern two parallel spaces in the upper half of the logo? They are intended to evoke the memorial beacons of the Tribute in Light. And the two bars on the lower half of the logo? The deep pools of the National September 11 Memorial.
Look again, and the five bars might be taken for five towers: 7 World Trade Center, long finished and open; 1 and 4 World Trade Center, nearing completion; 3 World Trade Center, under construction; and 2 World Trade Center, still on the drawing board.
And yes, now that you mention it, the whole thing is a stylized W — for World Trade Center, of course, but also for Westfield World Trade Center, the name of the luxury shopping center that is to open there next year.
A Classic Approach
Reaching back to the golden-era work of 20th century giants in corporate identity design such as Paul Rand and Saul Bass, the new WTC logo seems to act, as do so many of Rand’s and Bass’s, as a touchstone. The eye is guided by deceptively simple contour of shape, such arrangement offering a context for the work, appropriate in the wider world and ready to take its place as a background element in a crowded visual landscape.
And it’s because of that format that some might find the work wanting. The “say it, then blend in” principles of corporate identity design are eternally at odds with the gravity of 2001’s events and the remembrance they command.
But reactions to this logo that find it lacking are better understood as reactions to logos themselves and how they work. When seen as a complex identity packed into a simple set of shapes — when regarded as a classic American corporate logo — it really is a triumph of the trade.