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6 Important Facts You May Not Know About One World Trade Center

Posted By Yuka Yoneda On September 11, 2011 @ 1:01 pm In Architecture | 5 Comments

one world trade center, wtc,world trade center, green architecture, eco architecture, sustainable architecture, skidmore owings and merrill, som, lower manhattan, green world trade center, twin towers, world trade center sustainable, sustainable design, green design, eco design [7]
My first day of school as a freshman at Stuyvesant High School with the Twin Towers in the background. You can tell my little sister was super enthused about it. A common myth told to freshman at the time (since from Stuy, only the North Tower was visible) was that one of the towers had collapsed – a childish joke that seems horrible now.

1. It’s going to be tall – really tall.

When complete in 2013, One World Trade Center will be 1,776 ft tall (you may already know that the number is a reference to America’s signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776) and will be the tallest building in the United States. It will also be the tallest all-office building in the world (sorry Taipei 101 [8]). Right now, the structure is a little over 80 stories high and now the tallest building in Lower Manhattan at 961 feet above street level, surpassing 40 Wall Street.

2. The new building will not sit on the footprint of the original towers.

It was important that 1WTC [5] not appear to “replace” the Twin Towers – we all know that it never could. Therefore the new edifice will occupy its own footprint, completely separate from where the original buildings stood. In fact, the former towers will be memorialized by two large glass reflecting pools [9] that fill the actual footprints of the North and South towers. Unlike the bustling area surrounding the new One World Trade Center, the space around the pools will be a calm, serene, tree-filled plaza.

one world trade center, wtc,world trade center, green architecture, eco architecture, sustainable architecture, skidmore owings and merrill, som, lower manhattan, green world trade center, twin towers, world trade center sustainable, sustainable design, green design, eco design [10]

3. It will be green.

Since it was designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merill [11], we’re not surprised to see that 1 World Trade Center will be green in several ways. The tower will have a fuel cell that will generate 4.8 million watts (MW) to power its various systems and will also use waste steam for electricity. It will also have a rainwater collection system and recycling scheme for its cooling systems. The heat that keeps the occupants of the tower warm in the winter will come primarily from steam, although there will be some oil and natural gas systems on site. The construction process itself is also earth-friendly and uses recycled content building materials including sustainably-harvested wood. The construction debris from the site will also be recycled. When complete, the tower is expected to receive a Gold Certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

4. It will be safe.

For obvious reasons, the engineers who designed One World Trade Center [12] focused heavily on structural integrity and ease of evacuation. One World Trade Center has a reinforced, window-less base, that will be able to withstand a truck bomb. The walls will be 3 feet thick reinforced concrete walls for all stairwells, elevator shafts, risers, and sprinkler systems and emergency staircases were made to be “extremely wide” so that as many people as possible could exit the building as safely as possible. There will be a dedicated set of stairwells exclusively for firefighters and the ventilation system will be equipped with biological and chemical filters.

To reduce accessibility from West Street, the new building was placed 65 feet (at its closest point) away – forty more feet than the Twin Towers. Also, the windows that face West Street will be made of specially tempered blast-resistant plastic. Additional security will also be employed and of course, the NYPD will be on constant patrol. All vehicles entering the site will be screened thoroughly for radioactive and suspicious substances. And if you do visit the tower [13] whether for business or pleasure, you’ll pass through a metal detector and inspected just like you might at JFK. There will also be a computer system which captures live video footage and analyzes it for potential threats such as suspicious parcels.

one world trade center, wtc,world trade center, green architecture, eco architecture, sustainable architecture, skidmore owings and merrill, som, lower manhattan, green world trade center, twin towers, world trade center sustainable, sustainable design, green design, eco design [14]
A photo peek into the gated area surrounding the memorial site. You can see the trees that were planted around the glass reflecting pools.

5. The memories of the victims of 9/11 will be reflected not only in the memorial but in One World Trade Center’s design as well.

You probably already know that a 9/11 Memorial and Museum will be opening this Sunday [9], but those aren’t the only areas designed to specifically reflect the memories of the victims of 9/11. When complete, One World Trade Center [15] will have a rooftop observation deck at 1,362 feet with a glass parapet extending to 1,368 feet, the exact height of the Twin Towers. At the top of the tower, a mast will be installed that emits a bright light that is expected to appear as a 1,000 foot beam, memorializing those who lost their lives and heralding freedom. Many of the victims’ names and the signatures of their loved ones will actually be written inside the building on a 30 foot steel beam — the first that was installed at the site.

6. The building looks totally different than what was originally chosen as the design.

Most New Yorkers have caught little soundbites, or big soundbites, of the squabbles, tiffs and downright fights that have surrounded One World Trade Center’s design. Much of that had to do with the building’s owners, the Port Authority and real estate developer Larry Silverstein, who has a pretty legit 99-year lease on the property. If you hadn’t heard about all of this, check out our entire post about it here [6]. The long and short of it is that Daniel Libeskind [6], the architect who originally won the competition to design One World Trade Center was, in essence, elbowed out of the way and much of the building he proposed has not been reflected in the actual edifice that has gone up. This left many New Yorkers and Libeskind fans feeling gypped, but surprisingly Libeskind himself is remarkably serene about it.

“In the end, the public will see the symbolism of the site,” he offered. “Of course, compromises had to be made, but a master plan is not about a few lines drawn on paper. It’s about an idea. I think when it’s built, people will forget the squabbles.

+ One World Trade Center [16]

Photos by Yuka Yoneda [17] for Inhabitat


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[5] Skidmore, Owings and Merrill: http://www.som.com/content.cfm/one_world_trade_center

[6] One World Trade Center: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/the-tower-that-could-have-been-daniel-libeskinds-award-winning-wtc-design/

[7] Image: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/6-important-facts-you-may-not-know-about-one-world-trade-center/yuka-and-na-at-stuy/

[8] Taipei 101: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_101

[9] two large glass reflecting pools: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/911-memorial-uses-green-design-to-create-a-place-of-remembrance/

[10] Image: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/6-important-facts-you-may-not-know-about-one-world-trade-center/wtc-daniel-libeskind-one-world-trade/

[11] Skidmore, Owings and Merill: http://www.som.com/

[12] One World Trade Center: http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/

[13] visit the tower: http://www.panynj.gov/wtcprogress/visiting.html

[14] Image: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/6-important-facts-you-may-not-know-about-one-world-trade-center/one-world-trade-center-8/

[15] One World Trade Center: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/seven-unrealized-design-proposals-for-the-world-trade-center-site/

[16] + One World Trade Center: http://www.wtc.com/about/freedom-tower

[17] Yuka Yoneda: http://www.clossette.com

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