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World Trade Center Complex: Monumental, Sustainable and Accessible

Aside from featuring exceptional office buildings, the new World Trade Center performs a vital civic role. The masterplan created by Studio Daniel Libeskind envisaged a diverse district, with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at its heart.

Watch a video story of the World Trade Center development:

Creating a Better Version of New York

The goal was always to “create a better version of New York,” says Janno Lieber, president of World Trade Center Properties. Lieber is describing Silverstein Properties’ redevelopment on the former site of the twin towers in Lower Manhattan, an epic 14-year journey that has seen a cast of thousands overcome technical, logistical and, not least, emotional challenges as New Yorkers watched with bated breath.


Paying Tribute

The 16-acre site will comprise five towers as well as the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, but it was the completion of One World Trade Center in November 2014 that was perhaps the biggest milestone both for the project team and the city. This super-tall tower now stands proudly on the skyline, filling the void left by the destruction of the original World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 and reinstating an important landmark.


Permeable and Dynamic Space

More than half of the site is now given over to public space, and the historic streetscape has been reinstated to make the development much more accessible. As well as office space, there are retail and leisure uses to create a thriving, vibrant community throughout the day and evening and on weekends too. A new transportation hub completed in 2016 is expected to serve 200,000 commuters each day.

“We wanted to make the World Trade Center a model of what New York can and should be, and I think we accomplish that by creating a more dynamic streetscape with great accessibility,” says Lieber. “That’s what makes it different and special.”


Evolution of Downtown

This is already clearly visible in the buzz around the site, which has become a focal point for both New Yorkers and visitors to the city. “In the last 10 years, downtown has evolved tremendously,” says Eric Engelhardt, vice president of leasing for One WTC at the Durst Organization. “When I started in real estate, downtown always became a bit of a ghost town when everyone went home. Now it’s become a 24/7/365 live-work-play neighbourhood. It’s attracting tenants from a wide range of industries, from financial services to law firms, technology, advertising and publishing.”


Prominent Architects and Engineers

The towers that those new tenants will occupy have been designed by a prestigious list of international architects. SOM designed not only One WTC but also the first building to complete in 2006, 7WTC. November 2013 saw the opening of 4 WTC, by Pritzker Prize winner Fumihiko Maki; Richard Rogers, another Pritzker Prize winner, has designed 3 WTC, due for completion in 2018; 2 WTC has been designed by Bjarke Ingels, and will be the second-tallest on the site at 1270ft (387m).

As well as One WTC, WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff is the structural engineer for towers 7, 3 and the memorial and museum, and conducted a peer review on tower 4. The WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff team also ensured the overall stability of the enormous ‘bathtub’ perimeter walls that encircle the entire site below ground to keep the waters of the adjacent Hudson River at bay.


Massive Underground Components

“What you don’t see below ground is just as massive as what’s above ground,” says Jeff Smilow, executive vice president of building structures at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff in New York. “The bathtub is roughly 75ft below grade, and it’s composed of multiple levels with multiple users and stakeholders. There are major retail areas, major transportation areas and major pathways for trucks, and we’re involved in engineering most of these components.”

Rebuilding the World Trade Center has been a vast undertaking, made possible by an unprecedented level of collaboration and cooperation. “One of the challenges on any project is making sure that you have the right people on your team and that they can all work together,” says Rahimian. “But on this project, we all knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Bringing everyone together was easy.”