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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill sued over alleged theft of One World Trade Center design

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This isn’t the first time that the firm has been accused of stealing designs for the Freedom Tower

Large skyscrapers including One World Trade Center. In the foreground there is a row of trees. Max Touhey

Jeehon Park, a Georgia architect and president of Qube Architecture, has filed a lawsuit against Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, alleging that the firm’s design for One World Trade Center is too similar to a design that he created in 1999 as a graduate student at Chicago’s Illinois Institute of Technology.

The New York Post reports that Park filed a suit in a Manhattan federal court on Wednesday, stating that SOM did not properly credit him for the tower, despite showing “striking similarity” to his design. He claims that his former grad school advisor now works for the architectural firm, potentially giving them access to his design.

In an odd twist, Park also claims that SOM could have ripped off his idea after seeing it in a 2006 flick starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reaves, The Lake House; the problem with that is the conceptual renderings for the project were revealed back in 2005, a year before the movie was released.

Jeehoon Park's Cityfront '99 (left) and One World Trace Center (right)
Via the New York Post.

This isn’t the first time that SOM is being accused of plagiarizing ideas for the Western hemisphere’s tallest building. In 2005, One WTC architect David Childs was forced to go to trial over allegations put forth by Yale architecture student Thomas Shine, claiming that Childs copied two buildings that he designed in 1999.

“One World Trade Center is arguably the highest profile project built in the world in recent memory, and these types of projects often attract people who deceptively claim ownership of the design,” SOM spokesperson Elizabeth Kubany said in a statement to Curbed. “This lawsuit filed yesterday is particularly suspect, because [Park] is filing suit in June of 2017 about a design that was first unveiled publicly in June 2005 and that was completed and leased in 2013.”

Kubany calls the design of One World Trade Center a “simple and iconic geometric form” and stated that SOM has “shown, countless times now, the origins of its concept and the development of its design.” She continues, “This lawsuit feels like an attempt to get attention or money and we are certain this claim will be found to be baseless,” said Kubany. ​

Park is suing for an undisclosed amount.

One World Trade Center Freedom Tower

72 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10006