Architect sues over design of One World Trade Center

NEW YORK • A South Korea-born architect has sued a major architectural firm over the design of Manhattan's landmark, One World Trade Center.

Mr Jeehoon Park is claiming that the building bears a "striking similarity" to a tower he had designed in 1999 while he was in graduate school.

He is accusing Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of falsely claiming design credit for the 104-storey One World Trade Center, whose 541m height, including a spire, makes it the Western Hemisphere's tallest building and also the sixth highest in the world.

Now president of Qube Architecture in Suwanee in Georgia, Mr Park filed the lawsuit in a federal court in Manhattan.

He alleges that One World Trade Center, which opened in November 2014, copies his 122-storey Cityfront '99, whose cross-sections also feature narrow upright and inverted triangle shapes.

Mr Park, a naturalised US citizen, said he registered Cityfront '99 with the United States Copyright Office on May 9, reported Reuters.

He is seeking unspecified damages, including for alleged harm to his architectural practice plus credit for the design that he said inspired One World Trade Center.

South Korea-born architect Jeehoon Park says the design of One World Trade Center (above) has similarities with a tower he designed in 1999. PHOTO: ONE

Other defendants include entities controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which developed the property, and building contractor Tishman Construction.

Skidmore did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Spokesmen for the Port Authority and Tishman declined to comment.

Mr Park, who received an engineering degree in Seoul, said he created Cityfront '99 while getting his master's degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He noted that Skidmore had access to the design through an associate partner who was one of his thesis advisers, and through its display in the school's lobby for six years and publication in a book.

Mr Park also said Cityfront '99 appeared in a scene from the 2006 movie, The Lake House, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, which was shot in the lobby of a Chicago building where Skidmore had an office.

Cityfront '99 was never built.

"He just wants to be treated fairly," said Mr Dan Kent, a lawyer for Mr Park. "Our client frankly didn't know what his legal rights were until he came to us.

"We believe we are well within any statutes of limitations and that the wrongful conduct is ongoing."

One World Trade Center is built on the site of the twin towers of the World Trade Center that were destroyed in the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2017, with the headline 'Architect sues over design of One World Trade Center'. Print Edition | Subscribe