My report last Friday on the planned South Korean towers that resemble the World Trade Center enveloped in an explosive “cloud” on 9/11 provoked an angry message from a spokesperson for MVRDV, the Dutch architectural firm that designed the towers. In my article, I quoted MVRDV spokesman Jan Knikker, who told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, “I have to admit that we also thought of the 9/11 attacks.” The admission directly contradicts the “apology” posted in English on the MVRDV website, which, among other things, claimed that the designers did not “see the resemblance during the design process.”

In a message, Knikker insisted that his comment had been taken “out of context” by the Algemeen Dagblad and berated me for citing a “Dutch tabloid.” He did not, however, explain what the relevant context is, much less how any context could alter an explicit admission on his part that the architects had indeed thought of the 9/11 attacks. In direct contradiction to that admission, he added, “In the 3 months of design process there was no-one who had thought of the connection in our team, nor the consultants, nor at the client.” (Knikker’s full message is reproduced below.)

In the meanwhile, however, Knikker has made yet another attempt to clarify MVRDV’s position, and he has done so in an interview with the Algemeen Dagblad no less: the very “tabloid” that, in his message to me, he accused of taking his earlier comment “out of context.” Contradicting himself yet again, in his most recent remarks, Knikker now says that “of course” the resemblance of the towers design to 9/11 was noted “once.” “But,” he continues, “it also looks like sushi or chopsticks. It can represent all sorts of things.”

Here is the full text of Knikker’s message to me on Friday, December 9:

Dear Mr. Rosenthal,

sharp piece you have written, but the Dutch newspaper has also taken this

quote out of context. In the 3 months of design process there was no-one who

had thought of the connection in our team, nor the consultants, nor at the

client. The Korean press actually published the project on front pages

hailings its innovation without mentioning 9/11. There are quite some people

who sincerely did not make the link. So before you quote the Dutch tabloids

you could have checked with us. Really sad that you did not and that you

think we would be able to intentionally design such a resemblance, what kind

of sick people you think we are? Why would we?

I hope you scored well with your critic.

Sleep well,

Jan Knikker

John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at or on Facebook.

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