Architect’s lawsuit over One World Trade Center design to proceed

Two years after Georgia-based architect Jeehoon Park sued four groups behind the development of One World Trade Center in New York City for allegedly ripping off one of his designs, a Manhattan judge is allowing three of Park’s claims to move forward into a discovery phase.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court against Chicago-based architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the Durst Organization, Port Authority, and Tishman Construction in 2017, alleges copyright infringement over a design Park drafted for his thesis at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1999.

According to the suit, Park was a graduate student at the architectural school in the late 1990s when his thesis dubbed Cityfront ‘99 was reviewed by his thesis advisor, Ahmad Abdelrazaq, an associate at Skidmore, along with Bill Baker, a second senior partner at the firm.

The motion, first reported by The Real Deal, will allow claims related to the defendants’ use of the alleged infringed images in leasing materials, during the sale of tickets to the One World Observatory, and using the images throughout construction to go into a discovery phase.

In an order in September, Judge Richard Sullivan wrote that the claims survive “only by the skin of their teeth, owing principally to the highly deferential standards on a motion to dismiss.”

According to the suit, Park said Skidmore may have also seen his design when it appeared in the 2006 film The Lake House, which was filmed in the “main lobby of the building where Skidmore’s Chicago office was located.”

Skidmore did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lizeth Beltran writes for Crain’s New York Business.

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