Freedom Tower design unveiled
Plans for the Freedom Tower that will be built at the World Trade Center call for the world's tallest building -- a structure that will restore New York City's skyline even as it implements innovative technologies that its designer hopes will become a model for future development elsewhere in the city, nation, and world.
The plan for the building was unveiled this morning to great fanfare, with Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg joining collaborating architects David Childs and Daniel Libeskind and developer Larry Silverstein, who will build the tower. When the white curtain was pulled back to reveal the much-anticipated model, the audience saw a slender-looking building that tapers from the base to the top, twisting as it rises from the ground, and is topped with a distinctive spire that aims to evoke the nearby Statue of Liberty.
The "inventive" building, architect David Childs said, was designed to be unique not only to New York, but to the specific Lower Manhattan site.
The sleek model stood in stark contrast to its surroundings -- the classically designed Federal Hall, which hosted the event. Invited guests and members of the media crammed into the historic rotunda ringed by Corinthian columns. After the presentation, visitors flocked to the models, standing two and three deep to see the tower that will be stand at least twice as tall as many nearby buildings.
|Rendering showing view from the Hudson River
Silverstein, who held the lease on the World Trade Center and has been waiting for this day for more than two years, spoke softly as he addressed the crowd.
"To say this is an emotional day would be a vast understatement," he said.
The Freedom Tower
The proposal for the Freedom Tower preserves both the 1,776-foot height and spire that were key elements of Libeskind's master plan for the site. Yet new elements were brought to bear as well - resulting in a final design that, in the words of Childs, "not only realizes [Libeskind's] vision but enhances it in every possible way."
Indeed, Childs said the structure will be "probably the safest building in the world." In addition to the unique structural reinforcement, the tower will feature "state-of-the-art life safety systems" such as biological and chemical air filters, concrete-encased stair and elevator cores, extra-wide stairs, redundant exits, and more.
In addition to its striking contortion, the building incorporates what rebuilding officials call "innovative suspension cable technology." Quite visible from the exterior, the cables recall the Brooklyn Bridge, which will be visible from the top of the tower. But they also supply a second tier of structural support on top of the building's concrete core.
The building will also be environmentally sensitive. The space above the highest occupied floors will include turbines that will channel winds off the Hudson River to power about 20 percent of the building's energy needs -- savings that may reduce the expense of rental space.
All told, the building will include 2.6 million square feet of office and retail space. Only the first 1,100 feet of the building -- about 70 floors -- will be occupied, topped by 400 feet housing the turbines and new broadcast antennas. The spire accounts for the remaining 276 feet.
At street level and below ground, Childs noted, the tower will connect to the rebuilt transit network currently taking shape around the site. The building will feature an observation deck with direct access from the lobby, and Childs spoke of the possibility of a restaurant on the top floor.
Both Childs and Libeskind praised Pataki, who threw down the gauntlet in a speech two months ago when he strongly encouraged the architects to deliver a final design to rebuilding officials by this week. Both men acknowledged the challenge of working together -- it's no secret that the collaboration has been heated at times -- but everyone praised the result.
"It's a challenge," Libeskind said. "It's a struggle to create something great."
Libeskind asked the audience to consider "how much has happened" in the year since several proposed master plans for the site were put on display at the Winter Garden. In this sense, the design for the Freedom Tower is merely the capstone to a year that saw the selection of the Libeskind plan, the ongoing competition to design a permanent memorial, the reopening of the PATH station at the WTC, and a number of smaller measures to improve life in the neighborhoods around the site.
"Everything we do at Ground Zero is a memorial to the heroes we've lost and to the courage we've shown," said Pataki in his opening remarks. The governor characterized the tower as a tribute to the courage and strength of New Yorkers, and as a symbol of "confidence and freedom" for the nation.
Mayor Bloomberg, too, spoke to the far-reaching significance of the tower's unveiling. "This is a wonderful day not just for New York, but for America." The mayor also mentioned the tower's place in the city's overall vision for Lower Manhattan -- a place of new open spaces and exciting architectural design.
The Freedom Tower will stand tall, the mayor said, in "the world's first true 21st-century downtown."
Even as it reinforces New York's status as the world's financial capital, the structure will play a far more visible role. Childs demonstrated how the tower would restore the missing part of New York's skyline in a presentation of computer graphics showing the view from midtown. The Chrysler Building and Empire State Building sat in the foreground, and the new Freedom Tower was visible a few miles in the distance.
The Freedom Tower will be the "final exclamation point at the tip of the island," Childs said.
"In the last analysis, it will be the new icon of the New York skyline," agreed Silverstein.
|Rendering by SOM of the New York Skyline from the north
Silverstein said that he promised the governor that the cornerstone for the building would be laid by September 11 of next year, the third anniversary of the attacks. He also said he would make every effort -- "We'll do our damnedest" were his exact words -- to meet the greater challenge of topping the building out by Sept. 11, 2006.
In the end, Silverstein said, the building will be ready for occupancy by late 2008 or early 2009. The four other buildings slated for the site, he added, could open one per year in the following years, so that all five would open by the end of 2013.
Whenever the site is completed, the unveiling of the tower design will stand as a milestone -- "a day of great importance," in Silverstein's words.
"Beautiful… spectacular… also very practical," Silverstein said of the Freedom Tower. "This building is, in fact, going to work."
To see view a slide show of Memory Foundations by Studio Daniel Libeskind, cick here.