An architect from Georgia sued architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on Wednesday for allegedly stealing his design for One World Trade Center. Jeehoon Park says the firm has unfairly taken credit for the tower, a design he says he developed in 1999 as a graduate student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, as the New York Post reported. At 1,776 feet high, One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth tallest in the world.
Park’s Cityfront ’99 design on left, One World Trade Center on right
Park, now president at Qube Architecture in Suwanee, Georgia, moved to the U.S. from Korea in 1996. The architect claims One World Trade Center, which opened in November 2014, copies his own design of a 122-story “Cityfront ‘99,” whose facade also features narrow and inverted triangle shapes. According to the architect, SOM could have accessed his graduate thesis design through his former thesis adviser, who now works for their firm. Plus, Park’s design was put on display in the university’s lobby.
Also, the architect said his Cityfront ‘99 design appeared in a scene in the 2006 film “The Lake House” that starred Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, which was filmed in the lobby of the same Chicago building where SOM had an office.
Park is seeking unspecified damages, including credit for the design that inspired the city’s tallest tower and alleged harm to his firm. Dan Kent, a lawyer for Park, said “He just wants to be treated fairly. 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.”
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