After the 9/11/01 attacks and the end of the Plume and Pile burn, in 2002, this is what Lower Manhattan looked like. On the Brooklyn side ugly, largely unused warehouse piers stretched out into the East River. And on the Manhattan side the skyline lacks any dominating feature -- all 7 of the World Trade Center buildings are gone. Debate ensued -- what should replace the WTC?
The Brooklyn waterfront was almost unused in 2002. And the Bridge stretched to an unremarkable skyline
A design competition for the WTC unfolded, and nine made the final cut. All nine were exhibited to the public, and New Yorkers were encouraged to vote. The "Kissing Towers" designed by Lord Norman Foster won the popular vote. Two towers met at the 55th story and then grew away from each other. The infrastructure below the towers -- Path trains, subways, sewers, water lines -- were all revealed as people walked on a thick glass floor.
The Group Dynamics proposal imagined a structure that looked like an hash tag # -- which might be more popular today among Twitter users. It had the advantage of tremendous strength and many escape routes should it be attacked.
The Som Team thought the Twin Towers should be replaced by a sort of anarchic village of many-sized and shaped buildings.
Think Design felt that nothing habitable or usable should replace the Towers. Instead, 110 story ghosts should stand precisely where the WTC towers had once been, lit at night to recall the original towers. Today this might be viewed as the most morbid idea, but at the time it drew a lot of popular support.
United Architects spoke of buildings "mutating" and ultimately reaching far higher in the sky than the original WTC. As was the case with Fosters "Kissing Towers" and the Group Dynamics "hash tag" the mutating buildings offered multiple connection points between structures which had 2 advantages: Increased structural strength to resist bombings, and multiple escape routes.
The Peterson/Littenberg design was the least popular. It resembled a typical government memorial park without any office towers. Public reaction was harsh.
Hariri & Hariri offered a design that seemed pretty far out to the NY public in 2002/3, but now looks like buildings rising in Shanghai, Singapore, Norway -- a sort of floating chaos bathed in sunlight.
Architect Michael Graves offered a long term vision, rather than a specific design or building(s). He wanted all of Lower Manhattan to transform into a zone of "tolerance and peace" with mixed residential and business living. Remarkably, much of his vision has organically evolved downtown, and far more people live in the area than did pre-9/11.
Lo-Tek went for creation of a beehive, fed by visible infrastructure, trains, subways.
Archi-Tectonics imagined "Ecological Explosion" --- a literally and figuratively green mix of buildings and parks -- many of which were atop roofs. They imagined zero CO2 emissions and "living" walkways and roofs created the best revenge against al-Qaeda.
The winning design came from Studio Daniel Libeskind. Though the Libeskind design came in second with the popular vote, it garnered avid support from the families of those that perished in the WTC attacks because all the seven towers circled an open memorial area where the actual "foot prints" of the Twin Towers had been, and an exposed slurry wall would form a many stories deep barrier against the rivers and harbor waters.
2002 May proposal
Another from 2002
Among the 400 original proposals in 2002 was this North-Axo idea.
In the early 2002 stage of competition more than 400 designs for the new WTC were submitted. The most patriotically and defiantly themed was this one, by Morris Adjimi Architects.
In the end, after years of often ugly political and financially-fueled debate, Libeskind's design was watered down to something comparatively pedestrian. Only two of his features survived: WTC 1 will stand 1776 feet tall. And the original "footprints" of the Twin Towers is a memorial open space. But most of Libeskind's unique design features were destroyed. And though the Freedom Tower/WTC 1 will be 1776 feet tall, the final 30 stories will never be occupied, and are basically just a giant antenna.
Work was delayed for years. Underground at Ground Zero a titanic effort unfolded, rebuilding every bit of the Lower Manhattan infrastructure, including its PATH train system to New Jersey, subways, power systems, sewers, phone systems and far more. On both sides of the East River the visual landscape was sadly lacking in dynamics.
By early 2009 three dramatic changes were underway. Architect Frank Geary designed a twisty, metallic condo skyscraper positioned at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. For years it would stand as the tallest structure downtown. But at the same time WTC #7 rose --- a V-shaped set of cranes cane be seen on its top. It would be completed quickly and among other things, house the NY Academy of Sciences.
As WTC #7 and the Geary Condo tower neared completion, on the Brooklyn side of the river the old ugly warehouses were being transformed into a dramatic waterfront park, set upon the former piers and landfill dockings. Every element of the original structures would be salvaged and recycled into the new park. Thus, "green" seemed to reach across the river to Ground Zero.
High tide view
The WTC #7 and Geary building completed and occupied, the Freedom Tower (aka WTC !) began to peek over its neighbors.
From a boat, looking up at the tip of Manhattan, the pace of construction can be seen picking up. Both the Freedom Tower (on the left) and WTC #2 are rising. Not visible, the grand Memorial --- waterfalls plunging deeply down into the original Twin Tower footprints, was nearing completion.
September 11, 2012. The Freedom Tower is lit red/white/blue
Late April 2013
Final cranes are erected atop the tower, first week of May 2013
May 8, 2013 (high tide)
May 8, 2013
May 8, 2013 in twilight
1776 feet! The final skeletal elements of the tower are erected. The tower is now at its full height. For the next year it will be filled out, and its internal structure will be completed.
May 10, 2013
May 10, 2013
May 10, 2013
Spring 2013, adding the final premade
30 story section to the WTC1 top
Late Spring 2013
Late Spring 2013, the pre-made 30 foot final section goes
Sunset June 2013
The original Twin Towers stood in these "footprints", which are now extraordinary, enormous waterfall memorials. Viewed from the 40th sstory of WTC #7, the north-most new tower
WTC Footprints 2
WTC Construction Zone
Ground Zero, as seen from New York Academy of Sciences, located in WTC #7. V-shaped building is the 9/11 museum, which is mired in controversy and has not opened. The footprints of the original Twin Towers flank it. Other WTC towers are in various stages of production around it. Not visible are Freedom Tower (aka WTC #1) and other completed WTC towers
Ground Zero Construction 2013
The lesser towers and 9/11 museum, as seen from north-most WTC building, #7
Ground Zero 2013
Freedom Tower Looms
On your right, WTC #1 under construction, and foot prints of original Twin Towers on left. Viewed from 40th floor WTC #7
WTC One Reflects
The north face of WTC #1 (aka Freedom Tower) reflects the buildings surrounding it
WTC Number One
2013, still under construction, looking at about one third of its height
World Trade Center Reflects
Peering Up the Tower
Craning up, from 40th floor of #7, through glass window, trying to see the tippy top of the Freedom Tower
Tower Reaches the Sun
Spring 2013, from 40th floor, up
A lattice work sheathed the outside of each tower
In its original drawings the modern towers stood in stark relief against the 19th Century anchorage towers of the Brooklyn Bridge.
The original Korab World Trade Center design featured Twin 110 storied Towers, and five complimentary buildings. They stood as the city's mountains, visible from every vantage point.
From their bases the Twin Towers stood so tall that I used to actually get dizzy looking up, probably because I craned my neck back so far that I cut blood circulation.
In the original concept the towers seemed to arise out of the water.
In Korab's original vision the seven towers of the WTC would have all features the same lattice-like outer sheathes, which would be reflected in a massive sculpture in their center. It did not ever get built, but it seems church-like. Where that envisioned "steeple" would have stood in now the memorial site.
The Port Authority's rendering of what the World Trade Center complex will look like at its completion.
Late Spring 2013
From Brooklyn Bridge Park, Late Spring 2013
4th of July 2013
Dusk, Summer 2013
Full Height Test
For one night in November 2013 they tested the red lights on the spire, lighting the full height of the Tower for the first time.