Donald Trump has been denounced as greedy, selfish, indifferent to good urban design, and sly as a fox. Every word of that is true, of course. But what of it? If the city’s skyline had been built only by people who were guided primarily by the rules of good planning, New York would be the size of Bronxville. Trump is doing nothing that builders haven’t done in Manhattan for generations. It is what you might call the George Washington Plunkett school of urban planning: Trump seen his opportunities and he took ‘em.
In Zone Defense, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger follows Donald Trump as he skirts and manipulates city ordinances on a quest to build Manhattan in his own image, starting with a new “ninety-storey” neighbor for the United Nations building, to be called Trump World Tower. It shows Trump as a classic New York real estate opportunist — only more so.
Zone Defense was originally published in The New Yorker, February 22, 1999.
Cover design by Adil Dara.