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N.Y. / Region|Designs Unveiled for Freedom Tower’s Neighbors


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N.Y. / Region

Designs Unveiled for Freedom Tower’s Neighbors


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Photo A rendering of the skyline after construction of the towers at ground zero are complete. Credit SPI, dbox

The developer of the new World Trade Center unveiled the designs this morning for three skyscrapers at ground zero, which in their gargantuan scale would reshape the New York skyline.

Each building has a different renowned architect — Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, both of London, and Fumihiko Maki of Tokyo — and the result is entirely unlike the monolithic uniformity of the original trade center.

The office towers, designated simply Towers 2, 3 and 4 for now, would occupy three sites between Church and Greenwich Streets, along the eastern edge of the trade center site. Together with the winged PATH terminal and transportation hub, they would form the face that the trade center presents to the rest of downtown, with the signature Freedom Tower behind them.

The designs presented this morning by the developer, Larry A. Silverstein, together offered the most comprehensive picture to date of what the finished complex might — just might — look like six years from now.


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Lord Foster’s Tower 2, with a rooftop of four enormous diamonds steeply inclined toward the memorial below, would be as high as the Empire State Building. Tower 3 by Lord Rogers, framed boldly by an exoskeletal framework of diagonal beams, would reach a pinnacle of 1,255 feet at its corner antennas. Even the smallest and subtlest building among them, Mr. Maki’s Tower 4, would be taller than the Citigroup Center in midtown.

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If these buildings form any kind of ensemble with the Freedom Tower — Tower 1, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of New York — , it would probably be a jazz quartet.

Apart from Tower 2, they are also a far cry from the quartz-like forms originally envisioned by Daniel Libeskind, the official master planner of the trade center site. Though they follow Mr. Libeskind’s dictum that the office towers step down in height progressively from the Freedom Tower, the intended spiraling effect may be lost on the casual viewer because the buildings do not appear at first glance to be parts of a unified whole. Instead, it may look like an instance of urban randomness.

Photo The designs offered the most comprehensive picture to date of what the finished complex might -- just might -- look like six years from now. Above, the Freedom Tower is to the left of Towers 2, 3 and 4. Credit SPI, dbox

Under the terms of an April agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is in place conceptually but has yet to be signed, Mr. Silverstein would construct and control all three buildings. He is also developing the Freedom Tower for the authority. Mr. Silverstein has surrendered his interest in the Tower 5 site, where the former Deutsche Bank building still stands awaiting demolition. Tower 5 has yet to be designed.

No matter the polish and refinement of the models and renderings seen today, the designs will certainly be subject to change in coming months and years, like all of the other projects at ground zero.

By virtue of its size and aesthetic bravura, Lord Foster’s Tower 2 at 200 Greenwich Street, between Vesey and Fulton Streets, may draw the most public attention. The 1,265-foot building is to have 78 floors, 62 for offices, four trading floors and the rest for retail and mechanical space. The uppermost of the rooftop diamonds will be a tripod shaped antenna whose pinnacle is 1,350 feet above street level, just 18 feet shy of the Freedom Tower’s parapet.

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Construction of Tower 2 will require the removal of the Vesey Street staircase, also known as the survivors’ stairway, which is the only aboveground remnant of the original trade center that is still in place. It served as an escape route for hundreds of people on 9/11.

The main shaft of Tower 2 is to be divided by notches into quadrants, culminating in diamond forms that are meant to lead the eye down to the memorial plaza. The surface of these structures will be a porous screen on which snow and ice are not expected to accumulate; always a hazard on a steeply pitched roof.

Lord Rogers’s Tower 3 at 175 Greenwich Street, between Dey and Cortlandt Streets, is a flat-topped building with asymmetrical shoulders and the diagonal beams of the exoskeletal framework seem to echo the rooftop of Tower 2. The building will rise 1,155 feet, reaching the higher pinnacle at the antennas. It will have five trading floors, three retail floors, nine mechanical floors and 54 floors of offices, for a total of 71 stories.


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Cortlandt Street will be kept open between Tower 3 and Tower 4. The Port Authority had originally proposed constructing a shopping arcade that would join the buildings’ bases, but city officials objected to the loss of an open corridor between the memorial and the rest of Lower Manhattan.

Mr. Maki’s Tower 4 at 150 Greenwich Street, between Cortlandt and Liberty Streets, is the most understated of the lot, with a sheer curtain wall. The 61-story tower rises for most of its height as a parallelogram and then, nearly 700 feet in the sky, it becomes a trapezoid, reaching an overall height of 946 feet, with no antennas. The upper part of the facade inclines toward the towers to the north and is meant as a unifying gesture.

Under the conceptual development agreement, most of this building is to be occupied by the Port Authority and New York City offices.

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