Almost twelve years after the devastating events on 9/11/01, the final two sections of the spire were placed atop the gleaming skyscraper at Ground Zero this morning. The official height is now a symbolic 1,776 feet.
With the cladding on the building nearing completion, it is easy to imagine what it will look like when finished. I personally believe NYC blew their opportunity to reclaim the skyline in an awesome way. This is too short, it took far too long to construct, and they allowed fear, politics, and greed to turn what could have been an amazing piece of architecture into a mediocre skyscraper.
When renders were released last year showing some significant design changes to One World Trade Center, many followers of the project were greatly disappointed. An ugly antenna replaced the modern spire, and the tapered edges of the base which reflected the isosceles triangles in the upper body of the building had been removed in favor of a boring and basic cube.
Although the official word was that both changes were related to either safety or maintenance, the truth seems to be neither. Esquire’s recent in-depth article might reveal the true reason for the changes.
As the estimate for completing the tower rose past $3 billion, the PA struck a deal in 2010 with a city real estate developer, the Durst Organization, to help finish, manage, and lease the tower: For $100 million, Durst received a 10 percent equity interest in the building, plus a $15 million management contract that gave Durst 75 percent of any monies saved by cutting construction costs up to $12 million, and a mere 50 percent of every penny cut thereafter.
To nobody’s surprise and David Childs’s despair, Durst found costs to cut, particularly at the top and bottom of the tower. The prismatic glass chosen to wrap the base of the building was replaced with a cheaper version, requiring that the corners of the tower’s first two hundred feet be squared off after those corners had already been tapered to meet the thousand-foot isosceles triangles of the curtain wall. Then Durst took its meat-ax to the tower’s 408-foot spire: By simply scrapping the radome — a sculpted shell of fiberglass and steel designed to sheathe the antennae and maintenance platforms atop the building — shazam! $20 million saved.
Read more: World Trade Center Rebuild Budget – Scott Raab Series On Ground Zero – Esquire
It is a shame that the centerpiece of rebuilding at Ground Zero has lost so much of its appeal because of greed, but perhaps good old greed makes this tower even more of an American symbol.
The iconic tower in lower Manhattan is expected to reach its final height of 1,776 ft sometime tomorrow when the final section of the mast is installed. Here is a recent photo of the skyscraper and a shot looking down from the antenna.
UPDATE: It should surprise no one that the topping out has been delayed. This building has been in an almost permanent state of delay since it began construction.
The new tower at Ground Zero might be the tallest in New York City, but due to a recent decision to eliminate the cladding from the antenna, its future as the tallest in the United States is in doubt. The top of the building was recently redesigned in order to shave several million off of the final price tag and make the structure easier to maintain.
The changes have riled many skyscraper enthusiasts who find the new design far from aesthetically-pleasing. While I initially agreed with the negative remarks, I was also never very enthused about the design of the original spire. Downgrading it to a simple antenna makes the building more reminiscent of the North World Trade Center tower that was lost on 9/11. I will reserve judgment on the building’s appearance until it is completed.
The main downside to the redesign is the building may not be able to include the antenna in its overall height. The skyscraper was originally intended to have a spire topping out at a symbolic 1776 feet, but while the height of spires are included because they are considered a permanent part of a structure, antennas are not.
UPDATE: In a press release dated November 12, 2013, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat announced they would include the unclad spire in the final architectural height of 1WTC, thereby officially making it the tallest building in the United States.
One World Trade Center (1WTC) also known to many as the Freedom Tower became the tallest building in New York City this afternoon when it surpassed the legendary Empire State Building. Already over 100 stories, the skyscraper won’t top out until sometime next year when a 400+ foot spire is placed atop the building.
Here are a few of the photos I snapped of the gorgeous skyscraper at Ground Zero a couple of weeks ago.