My Summer Crush: Confessions of a Design Director

By Irasema Rivera, REA Design Director

I blurted out my confession in the middle of our Monday morning meeting.

We had been sharing photos from our July 4th celebrations, and it was my turn.  I put my photos up on the widescreen monitor: first, a scene from Rocky; next, a dish of red, white and blue Italian ice… and then THE photo flashed up on the screen.  At that moment, I lost my head and burst out, “I’ve got the biggest crush!”

Laughter erupted among my colleagues, but I was glad I said it. It was out in the open now.

Besides, I think some people had already known. All the signs had been there, because I did those things you do when you have a crush. You know, like try to weave the object of your desire into every conversation.  And the wallpaper on my desktop might have given it away.

My crush is the Freedom Tower… and it is pretty major.

I had ridden my bike past the tower before, but it really developed into a full-blown crush when I began working on a branding project for Brookfield’s World Financial Center. We needed photos of downtown for the brochure we were designing, so I hopped on my bike with my camera and set out to shoot. And there it was! The Freedom Tower, glittering in the night.

That was a magical evening.

Now I can’t get enough of this building in progress. I hope you’ll see in my photos the beauty in seeing a skyline transform, and watching history being made as this edifice rises into the sky.

I could lecture on the controversy surrounding this building, or postulate on why it was so important – psychologically and emotionally – for our nation to build something near Ground Zero.  But I don’t want to.

I just want to admire The Freedom Tower as it rises over the canyons of the city; steel and glass reflecting light, casting shadows, and inching closer to the clouds.

I’ll make two more confessions to you. First, I have a Facebook album called “Giants,” which is dedicated to tall buildings in NYC.  Secondly, this isn’t my first crush on a building. The last time it happened was when I was in junior high, and living in my home state of Texas.

Back then my father was a highly-regarded academic. He was invited to sit on he Board of Directors of the Ford Foundation, Fulbright Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. All this meant to me, as a kid, was that he went to New York City for meetings, and one time he brought me with him.

Two things happened on that trip: first, I remember telling my dad that I was going to live in New York someday.  Secondly, I became obsessed with The Empire State building – so much so that I built a 5 foot-sized replica out of cardboard in the middle of my bedroom.

There’s no miniature Freedom Tower being constructed in my Staten Island bedroom today, but I do shoot the Freedom Tower everyday with that same obsession. I’ve seen the city skyline change as it grows skyward. Even the negative space that defines the sky is affected by its growth.

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