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.
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.