More than 150 WTC planners work in 7WTC
On the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center, the countdown clock's days recently clicked down to double digits. That leaves only about 90 days until the design-development drawings for the city's most-watched redevelopment parcel are complete.
To the 150-plus architects, engineers, designers, and consultants who work on this floor, those remaining 90-something days are as precious as gold. After all, this is the team diligently planning the future east side of the World Trade Center (WTC).
Evidence of their diligence is spread across all corners of this 27,000-square-foot space, which developer Silverstein Properties has declared the "WTC Design Team Studio." There, some of the world's brightest architectural minds are piecing together every detail of WTC Towers Two, Three and Four. That includes each tower's unique features, as well as their interconnected at-grade and underground retail space and the Port Authority's WTC Transportation Hub.
Right now, with concept and schematics complete, the topic at hand is design development, which precedes the final phase of construction drawings. Scores of six-by-three-foot master plan drawings plaster a wall almost the length of 7 WTC, each one putting into ink the grand and the minutiae of 6.2 million square feet of premier commercial real estate one floor at a time.
Considering this vast scope of work, it makes perfect sense to have the teams working in a unified space.
"This is a very different project in terms of size, complexity, the number of stakeholders, the number of individual firms affected," says Silverstein Properties' WTC design consultant Mickey Kupperman, "It's three different firms, three different buildings, three different architects -- and all those things are happening at once. We've got this incredibly complicated puzzle, and bringing everybody together is the single most important thing this space does.
"It changes the focus from 'I work for Norman Foster,' or 'Rogers,' or 'Maki,' to 'I work on the World Trade Center project.'"
All in all, the team for the east side alone includes the firms of three design architects, one executive architect, two structural engineers, one mechanical engineer, and about a dozen specialty consultants. (There are, of course, even more great minds at work elsewhere on the site for the Freedom Tower, WTC Memorial, Transportation Hub, and performing arts space.)
Gathering continually throughout each day (and sometimes night), designers meet in conference rooms overlooking the site. On the ever-changing agendas are anything from façade cladding and structural components, to plumbing and HVAC systems and locations, to materials and more. Each tower's team builds those plans amongst themselves -- always bearing in mind Daniel Libeskind's master site plan -- and then coordinates with other teams.
The designers present their plans monthly to Silverstein, which has its own team to address costs, operations, maintenance, and other development and construction issues. Managers from the Port Authority, the WTC site's owner, also work closely with designers to determine logistics of the site and how its own Transportation Hub project fits in.
The Port Authority's other major role is to complete the site's "east bathtub" -- the vital preparatory element that ensures a solid foundation for the new towers. That project is now going strong, with crews building permanent slurry walls that will form the bathtub along the inside of Liberty, Church, Vesey, and Greenwich Streets.
The south end of the bathtub, where Towers Three and Four will rise (from Liberty to Dey Streets), is to be complete by late 2007. The Tower Two site (from Fulton to Vesey Streets) will be ready by mid-2008.
With those golden dates fast approaching, Silverstein's architects and engineers are working hard to keep on top of their own rigorous planning deadlines, which will complete the WTC by 2012.
"Once we start construction, the involvement of the design team takes a different nature," says Kupperman. "They're there to support construction, to answer questions, to check drawing -- but there's this energy here now. It's just fun being here."
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