Since planners began the process of deciding what will replace
the World Trade Center buildings destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001,
a tempest of criticism and indecision has swirled around the site.
Nonetheless, after five years, construction has begun.
projects are under way at the site of the new World Trade Center,
where all original seven buildings, including the twin towers,
were either destroyed or demolished because they were irreparably
The new site will house a memorial, five buildings, and a transit
hub designed, according to World Trade Center officials, to accommodate
250,000 daily commuters and visitors by 2020.
In 2003, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency in
charge of coordinating the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan,
chose renowned architect Daniel Libeskind -- a naturalized U.S.
citizen originally from Poland and the son of Holocaust survivors
-- and his master plan for the larger site, titled "Memory
Many revisions ensued with much of the attention zeroing in on
Freedom Tower, the 1,776-foot skyscraper that will replace the
towers in New York City's skyline, and a memorial at the tower's
foot. The structure is intended to document the events of the
day and commemorate the people who died at the attack site, not
only on Sept. 11, 2001 but also on Feb. 26, 1993 when a truck
bomb exploded in the garage of the North Tower, killing six people
and injuring some 1,000.
Libeskind in 2003 envisaged a soaring, abstract structure with
windmills, an aerial garden and an off-center spire meant to evoke
the Statue of Liberty.
Changes came when Libeskind and David Childs, another architect
hired by site leaseholder Larry Silverstein, worked together in
"a gritted-teeth collaboration between two architects whose
styles couldn't be more different," according to the architecture
editor for the Los Angeles Times.
After the New York Police Department cited security concerns
over the proposed building, yet another design was unveiled in
2005. Barring unforeseen circumstances, this design will be the
structure that will be built by 2011.
All told, the 2.6-million-square-foot Freedom Tower is expected
to cost $2.1 billion.
The exterior of the building is an obelisk, a tapered four-sided
pillar, with its edges cut away diagonally. A rooftop parapet
will be 1,368 feet above street level -- the same height of the
former North Tower. From there a spire will rise to a height of
1,776 feet, marking the year the United States declared its independence
from Britain and making it the tallest building in the country.
Office space and restaurants will inhabit the Freedom Tower,
as well as an observation deck on the 102nd floor, containing
plenty of security.
A state-of-the-art emergency system and extra-wide staircases
will be installed, but the building's most conspicuous security
enhancement will be its base: a 200-by-200-foot concrete pedestal
measuring 20 stories in height.
When the design was first introduced, many critics argued that
the base, while effective at absorbing forces such as truck bombs,
would be uninviting for people walking by at street level. To
solve the problem, Childs proposed covering the base with a screen
of glass prisms. If broken, the laminated glass would simply crumble
into tiny pieces.
Nicolai Ouroussoff, the architecture at The New York Times, blasted
the building's form last year, calling it "an impregnable
tower braced against the outside world."
"If this is a potentially fascinating work of architecture,
it is, sadly, fascinating in a way that Albert Speer's architectural
nightmares were fascinating: as expressions of the values of a
particular time and era. The Freedom Tower embodies, in its way,
a world shaped by fear," he wrote.
Similar quarrels over aesthetics have plagued the World Trade
Center Memorial -- to be located near the foot of the Freedom
Named "Reflecting Absence," the memorial was designed
by Michael Arad, whose plan was chosen out of move than 5,000
submissions from around the world.
The plan calls for two square-shaped voids in the footprints
of the original twin towers. The voids will be filled like pools,
with waterfalls and oak trees on all sides. The names of the victims
who died on Sept. 11, 2001 and Feb. 26, 1993 will appear on a
wall surrounding the memorial.
Adjacent to the memorial will be the Memorial Museum. Its purpose
is to document the day with powerful -- and at times, graphic
The memorial and museum are slated to be completed in September
In July 2006, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey assumed
control of building the memorial and museum, as well as the site's
visitor center and education center. The World Trade Center Memorial
Foundation, a nonprofit company designed to raise funds and oversee
planning for the 16-acre memorial site, will maintain and run
the memorial site once it is built.
Construction on the footings for these structures began in August
2006 -- much like the Freedom Tower, only after intense debate.
In early 2006, building officials said the memorial site would
cost nearly $1 billion -- a price that provoked outrage from New
Yorkers. In response, New York Gov. George Pataki and New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg slashed the budget in half.
There also were questions about the museum's location and about
whether a culture center, the International Freedom Center, was
an appropriate addition to the site. Officials eventually scrapped
Another debate was triggered by the way the names of the victims
would appear on the memorial.
According to Debra Burlingame, a board member at the World Trade
Center Memorial Foundation, the names will be "randomly sprinkled"
about -- abiding by Arad's desire to express the randomness of
death. But she thought the names should be grouped by association.
"They didn't die randomly," she said. "When [people]
hear that someone died at the World Trade Center, they ask two
things: Where were they and how old were they?"
Nonetheless, Burlingame, whose brother piloted American Flight
77, which terrorists crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, said
she has "great hopes" the site will be well-attended.
She said 1 billion people are expected to visit the memorial each
"We know that before Sept. 11, the Statue of Liberty got
5 million visitors a year, so we're thinking at least 5 million
a year, but certainly more," she said.