View Poll Results: Construction is underway, how do you feel about the final design for the WTC site?

192. You may not vote on this poll
  • I am more than satisfied; I believe that the final design surpasses that of the original World Trade Center. 10/10

    50 26.04%
  • While nothing may ever live up to the Twin Towers, I am wholly satisfied with the new World Trade Center; it is a new symbol for a new era. 7/10

    55 28.65%
  • I have come to terms with the new World Trade Center; although it has a number of flaws, I find the design to be acceptable. 5/10

    48 25.00%
  • I am wholly disappointed with the New World Trade Center; we will live to regret the final design. 0/10

    22 11.46%
  • I am biased, but honest, and hate anything that is not a reincarnation of the original Twin Towers.

    17 8.85%
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Thread: World Trade Center Developments

  1. #1561
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Alonzo, the purpose of the original ceremony was two sets of (expensive) lights set up at the site on the footprints of the original TTs.

    Spending this much money, at a spot that has little, if anything to do with the WTC is a waste of $$.

    There are a lot more permanent things that that $$ can be spent on that a bunch of power-wasting lights shining up from a bridge (or site away from the WTC site. hell, I did not know they moved it off site in the first place! Across the street is even pushing it. It is like having the Arizona memorial in Newark Harbor!)

  2. #1562
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    I did not know they moved it off site in the first place!
    The original placement of the Tributes of Light at site 26B in BPC really isn't "off site" as the destruction of WTC was not limited to the footprint of the towers. Also the site was still being cleared when the Lights first went up.

    As to moving the Lights to a far-removed location: I agree that it's an odd choice. But I have no doubt that the Lights will have a strong effect no matter where they are placed.

    The effect that the Lights have on migrating birds is something that needs to be taken into consideration. In the past (particularly the 2nd year) the number of birds affected was truly astounding. However it seems that this was due to the insects attracted to the lights which in turn brought the birds who had a feeding frenzy. I live 20 blocks away and the birds darting in and out of the Lights were clearly visible from my windows (and an incredibly eerie effect as the birds appeared to be fluttering paper falling from the sky from that distance).

  3. #1563
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    ... (and an incredibly eerie effect as the birds appeared to be fluttering paper falling from the sky from that distance).
    That's EXACTLY how I described it to friends last year. I happened to be walking down Hudson Street during last years lighting and couldn't understand the paper and confetti blowing around. Then, as I got closer, I realized it was birds. THOUSANDS!

  4. #1564


    hahaha, I read somewhere that every year thousands of birds die because they fly into skyscrapers at night, that's hilarious, why don't we demolish Manhattan because it hurts the animals lol. Stupid birds, will definately be looking for them in the lights this year.

  5. #1565


    I liked the fact last year that you could walk right up to the base of the lights at site 26, and see the beams directly from the point of origin which was really an amazing perspective. Not sure this will be possible if the lights are going to be on top of the parking garage.

  6. #1566


    I HEARD and am not sure on this, that the garage is accesible to the public, since most garages have lots on the roof then I guess it might be possible to go to the roof. Which garage exactly is this?

  7. #1567


    Isn't it the garage that's on-top of the Battery Tunnel exit along West Street, the one you drive under? What an eyesore it is. I guess it's necessary though.

  8. #1568

  9. #1569
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    The original placement of the Tributes of Light at site 26B in BPC really isn't "off site" as the destruction of WTC was not limited to the footprint of the towers. Also the site was still being cleared when the Lights first went up.
    But they were supposed to be the lighted replacements of the towers, otherwise what is the point of making them two squares?

    As to moving the Lights to a far-removed location: I agree that it's an odd choice. But I have no doubt that the Lights will have a strong effect no matter where they are placed.
    But they are no longer symbolic. They are ceremonial now and just show how much we like to TRY to symbolize everything. There are people that are still calling for a national holiday. I am glad to see that that meaningless terrorist act did not affect us in the US in one bit! :P

    The effect that the Lights have on migrating birds is something that needs to be taken into consideration. In the past (particularly the 2nd year) the number of birds affected was truly astounding. However it seems that this was due to the insects attracted to the lights which in turn brought the birds who had a feeding frenzy. I live 20 blocks away and the birds darting in and out of the Lights were clearly visible from my windows (and an incredibly eerie effect as the birds appeared to be fluttering paper falling from the sky from that distance).
    That is weird. I really never heard of this.....

  10. #1570


    People really expect a holiday? If there is a holiday for the wtc, as bad as it was, there are many other things of the same magnitude that have happened so we'd never have to work a day in our lives.

  11. #1571
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    One Ground Zero museum yanked, another faces review

    August 11, 2005

    One museum planned as part of a cultural center at the World Trade Center site will not be moving there and another devoted to freedom will only do so if it satisfies redevelopment officials, the head of the agency charged with rebuilding the site said Thursday.

    In an apparent concession to some Sept. 11 victims’ relatives who said that the World Trade Center Cultural Center could disrespect the dead and America, John Whitehead gave the International Freedom Center until Sept. 23 to work with family members and produce specific plans for its museum. If the plans do not satisfy the LMDC, he said, “we will find another use or tenant consistent with our objectives for that space.”

    The Drawing Center, meanwhile, will not be moving to the site, Whitehead said. After weeks of discussion with the LMDC, Whitehead said, the museum was “finding it difficult to comply with the requirements.”

    The Freedom Center and the Drawing Center are parts of cultural space long planned at the World Trade Center site, which also would include a performing arts complex. But in recent months family members have waged a campaign to remove the two institutions from the site, saying they could include anti-American exhibits and distract attention from a planned memorial museum.

    Debra Burlingame, the sister of an American Airlines pilot who died in the Sept. 11 attacks, applauded the Drawing Center’s decision not to build on the site but said there is little point in continuing discussions with the Freedom Center.

    “They’re not telling the story of 9/11,” she said. “They’re going to have controversial programming that they cannot guarantee in perpetuity will be respectful.” The Freedom Center didn’t immediately comment Wednesday but planned a statement later.

    In prepared remarks, Whitehead referred to site planner Daniel Libeskind’s initial design that included cultural space and the agency’s desire to include institutions that stood up for America’ “Sept. 11 represented a terrorist attack aimed at destroying everything that America stands for — our freedoms and our way of life,” Whitehead said.

    “We believe that the site must reflect a strong, positive answer to the terrorists that they will not prevail, that we will recover, as we have from other threats throughout our history, stronger and more committed to our freedoms.” Asked what criteria the LMDC would use in deciding whether the Freedom Center could remain as planned at the site, Whitehead declined to elaborate from a prepared statement he read at the agency’s monthly board meeting.

    One board member, deputy mayor Daniel Doctoroff, called the LMDC’s decision “a disappointment” and said that it should have been reached after a more public process.

    All contents © 2005 Daily News, L.P.

  12. #1572
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    New York City


    This is one of a series of articles that I just saw in the latest Esquire, I will post them as they are released...

    The Foundation

    When last we saw this place, it was a smoking hole in the earth, a war zone, ground zero. Now, four years after 9/11, it is about to become something very different. The first in a series of reports.

    by Scott Raab | Sep 01 '05

    ON A WARM, WET COTTONBALL of a June morning, Marc Becker is walking ground zero. Becker's forty-seven, with twenty-six years spent working construction, thick-chested and slope-shouldered, wearing jeans, an untucked short-sleeved denim work shirt, and a royal-blue hard hat. A red-bordered security ID hangs from a cord around his neck.
    He's seventy feet below street level, on the floor of the sixteen-acre pit, an off-kilter quadrangle dug forty years ago to hold the World Trade Center.

    Four years after 9/11, ground zero is a landscape of damp dirt, rock, concrete, and steel. It is hallowed ground—soaked, like every other square inch of the planet, in blood and sacrifice—but it is not an empty hole, not by a long shot. A 460-foot construction ramp slopes down into ground zero from Liberty Street, the pit's southern border, passing over a covered train track that snakes through the site. Every few minutes, another commuter train from New Jersey curves into the rebuilt station that sits below Church Street, along the pit's eastern edge. Across from the station, at the pit's western boundary, two trailers sit shadowed by a massive, pockmarked, four-decade-old concrete wall reaching all the way up from the floor of the pit to a construction roadway that runs parallel to the six broad lanes of West Street.

    "What you're standing on," Becker says, "was the basement of the whole complex for the towers—the original B6 level, as is. That's why this is like holy ground to people—they were still pullin' stuff out, if you know what I mean. Spring of '02, they were still finding parts down here. Remains."

    It's easy to feel overwhelmed by this patch of earth. The last resting place of 2,749 murder victims—you feel every moment that it's a privilege to be here, and you worry that it's a sacrilege, too—it's also a spot where steel will rise once more to the sky, and folks will come not only to mourn but also to work.

    "We're ready to build," Becker says. "We're ready to go. I don't get involved in politics. All I can tell ya is we're ready to build. I've been here since 9/11; it's very personal to me. I saw all the horrors. I mean, the horrors . I saw what the poor souls looked like after they jumped outta the buildings. Whatever got pulled outta the debris, I saw it. It's personal. It's personal . I don't forget it."

    Becker builds buildings. That's not only what he does ; that's also who he is. And in New York City, 9/11 was personal beyond the butchery: The hole in the skyline where the Twin Towers rose is a hole in this city's heart. Here, they build 'em high. Knock down the Twins, they go higher.

    "This is slab on grade," Becker says, talking about the scuffed stubble of old concrete and rebar set into the deep bedrock, Manhattan schist, to anchor the Twins. "We hit rock from eighteen inches to two feet down. With the new tower—going by the original design—the new slab on grade was gonna be two feet below. You're right on top of the rock then. We'd take all this out and lower it—bring in heavy machines with hammers on 'em to start breakin' the rock."

    The original design . Becker's referring to the 1,776-foot-tall building to be called the Freedom Tower, and the original design for it was trashed in May, a month ago. This is a bad thing for Becker—for a lot of folks—after nine months spent working down here, getting ready to build again.

    Back on July 4, 2004, they sank the cornerstone into the ground. The imam and the reverend said prayers. The governor spoke of rebirth, resolve, and sacred duty. Photos were taken. Then everyone took off.

    After the holiday, Becker and the crews went right back to work.

    Now he points toward Vesey Street, along the north end of the pit, where the jagged concrete slabs and steel support beams of the original parking garage—the B4 level, a floor above the train tracks—have been left jutting horizontally from the concrete wall in a rough zigzag trussed with steel, new and old.

    "The slabs were very weak from all the damage. You see the beams that go back to the slurry wall, these cross braces? We had to put all that in. Once that was in, we were able to demo these slabs. They were so weak that you just couldn't chop 'em down—they would collapse on you. There was a whole sequence of how to remove the slabs over that B4 slab and the trains—over an active, running train. It went without a hitch."

    This slurry wall, the three-foot-thick, eleven-acre rectangle of scarred concrete within the pit, was built in 1967 to seal the Trade Center's foundation against seepage from the nearby Hudson River, whose eastern shoreline used to slice right down this site. The bathtub, the workers called it, and still do. It was held in place by more than a thousand steel-cable tiebacks fed through six-inch holes drilled through the walls, then grouted and jack-yanked at a 45 degree angle deep into the bedrock until the seven basement and subbasement levels of the World Trade Center were erected. The buildings themselves, once raised, held the bathtub in place.

    After the WTC buildings were destroyed—not only the Twins but four other office buildings and a hotel—and the 1.5 million tons of wreckage was removed, these exposed bathtub walls were what remained. Pocked by its myriad round, rusted iron snouts that had sealed the now-corroded anchoring-cable holes, the slurry wall was in dire need of shoring up.

    Becker and the men he works with had to pin back the wall with fresh tiebacks where they could. But here, along Vesey, where the train exits the pit, where the walls were badly hurt, and where the original design placed the north side of the Freedom Tower, they braced the slabs to keep the slurry wall from collapse until they got to work building the new tower.

    To the world beyond the bathtub walls, ground zero is a hole, a mournful memory, a symbol. But to the men who build buildings, it's the worst kind of job—a job left undone. They put up the towers that stood right here, they climbed the pile of what was left, and they carted it all away. They rebuilt these train tunnels and tracks, raised this new station—ahead of schedule and under budget—and got the Port Authority Trans-Hudson line back in business. They braced these walls and they figured out how and where to plant the Freedom Tower's column footings—the steel-and-concrete bases sunk into bedrock to anchor the rising steel, spread its weight, and keep it from sinking—without tearing up the railroad tracks.

    "We had footings literally between the PATH tracks," Becker says, and you can hear the pride and frustration in his voice. "We were building the main tower columns in between those PATH tracks."

    The bathtub was clean. The cornerstone was laid. Almost four years after 9/11, ground zero was good to go.

    And then, just as the first order for the Freedom Tower's foundation steel was drawn up, it turned out that the New York Police Department had serious concerns about the building's design. It was only twenty-five feet away from West Street. The base of the 1,776-foot tower was open, exposing the columns. The NYPD was worried about truck bombs is what it boiled down to.

    All the work stopped, and some very important people looked stupid. George Pataki, New York's governor. Larry Silverstein, the real estate developer who signed a lease on the World Trade Center six weeks before 9/11 and was ready to start rebuilding on 9/12. And the folks over at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the brooding quasi-governmental behemoth that built the old WTC and still owns these sixteen acres. Awfully stupid.

    On May 4, Governor Pataki issued a statement pledging "yet another magnificent design that will once again inspire the nation and serve as a fitting tribute to freedom."

    Then Pataki gave the architects and engineers a mere eight weeks to redesign the whole thing and move it farther from West Street. On this day, Pataki's deadline is just three weeks away, and Marc Becker has no clue what's going to happen to all the work already done here.

    But Becker is sure of one thing. "I know it's gonna happen," he says. "I just don't know when."

    He walks over to where the cornerstone sits, twenty tons of Adirondack Mountain granite. It's covered by a tarp and hidden inside a blue plywood box in one corner of a column footing in the southeast corner of the imaginary parallelogram that was going to be the footprint of the Freedom Tower. The rest of the footing—eleven feet deep—is half filled with pooled rainwater.

    Will they have to move the stone?

    "I don't know," he shrugs. "I have no idea."

    Twenty yards south of the cornerstone, a two-hundred-foot square traces the footprint of the old north Twin, marked with orange-and-silver traffic cones spaced to cover the top of its sheared-off perimeter columns, still sunk into sixty-ton bedrock. Another square of cones marks the South Twin.

    Two offset squares, one north, one south, two hundred feet per side—the length of a standard Manhattan street block. Here they stood, and here they slammed to earth.

    Nothing will be rebuilt here. Even as the work crews prepped the site, Marc Becker kept the Twins clear.

    "No piece of equipment," he says now, "no machinery, no storage in these footprints—always outside of it."

    Here the heart aches. It hurts here. To stand here knots your throat, it fills your eyes. Here there are no ghosts—everyone's gone for good—and this moment, like every moment, passes.

    Even then, you dare not breach those lines. You rebuild, but you don't ever forget. Here they died. Here time stopped.

    THE BEST PLACE to view ground zero from on high is atop the new fifty-two-story office tower at 7 World Trade Center—on Vesey, just north of the pit. Once your knees quit buckling and the urge to hug the floor of the roof passes, you can stare past the southern tip of Manhattan from 741 feet. West is the Hudson River, flowing just beyond the pale-green, skull-capped towers of the World Financial Center, built on landfill they gouged from the pit when the WTC was built, and on the other side of the Hudson, New Jersey.

    To the east, on Church Street, the tour buses idle at the curb as the tourists, thousands each day, clog the broad sidewalk. They gape at the hole in the ground through the steel bars of the fence put up by the Port Authority; they snap photos of the old rugged cross of scorched steel formed by fate and two corroded beams of the old towers, exhumed and erected by the recovery workers as a gesture of pious defiance; they try to read the unreadable rank of black-and-white signs telling the tale of the WTC and 9/11, affixed to the fence by the PA, which was headquartered in Tower One and lost seventy-five of its own on 9/11.

    The pit is below you, the cornerstone a blue fleck at your feet. Looming over Liberty Street is a forty-one-story tombstone, the former home of Deutsche Bank, empty since 9/11, draped in a shroud of black netting, ruined by the plummeting South Tower and snarled in insurance litigation ever since, still awaiting demolition.

    7 WTC was the final ground-zero building to fall on 9/11—at 5:20 P.M., after burning all day—and now, the first to go back up. They broke ground in May 2002, and they topped the tower out in October 2004. They hung Old Glory on the last steel beam before lifting it to the sky. The governor and Larry Silverstein stood by, watching.

    Mike Pinelli stood with them. Pinelli's the 7 project super, meaning he runs the show, a gruff, goateed, fast-talking Jersey guy—pardon the redundancies—son of a Port Authority cop. Pinelli left the New Jersey Institute of Technology in '85 with a degree in mechanical engineering and landed his very first job as an assistant on the original 7.

    "Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to get involved in Freedom Tower," Mike says now, sitting in his plywood-framed office on the fourteenth floor of 7. "But I got my 7 to look at again."

    My 7?

    "Talk to any one of the tradesmen—they're gonna say, 'My building.' That's a piece we all take away with us."

    Pinelli was finishing a new office tower up in Midtown on 9/11, hustling to get that site cleaned up in time to obtain a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy from the city. New York City didn't stop on 9/11, and neither did Mike. He walked down to a firehouse by Madison Square Garden late that morning to check on his brother-in-law, who was just getting to the station. Then Pinelli walked back up to Midtown to keep working the job.

    "As the day progressed, you start wonderin' what's goin' on downtown. Should I get down there? This is what we do: We're guys that build. We help. That's our attitude. I hadda stay where I was."

    You can still hear what it cost Pinelli not to head down to ground zero that day—the guilt and the pain.

    "My job's to stay here—build this building and open this job up—and my heart's tellin' me, 'No, you gotta go downtown and see what you can do.' I ended up sleepin' at my desk."

    Pinelli spent the next three days at the Midtown building just trying to keep his crew together.

    "Everybody's walkin' around with long faces—everybody wanted to go downtown. I was sayin, 'Guys, we can't abandon this job, we can't just peel outta here—we gotta get this TCO.'

    "Saturday rolls around, I couldn't even focus anymore. I drove to Midtown, I set everybody up—and then I said, 'I gotta go down there.'

    "Saturday was like 9/11, a beautifully clear day. The smoke and the fog and guys walkin' on piles—you were there, smellin' it and seein' it, but it felt like everything wasn't real."

    Pinelli went next door to 7 to help gauge the damage to the thirty-two-story Verizon Building, a seventy-eight-year-old art-deco fortress that had a seven-floor chunk torn out of it when the towers pancaked.

    "All the telecommunications were fed outta Verizon for Lower Manhattan, so with the collapse, all the data and telephone lines were crushed. We were tryin' to get the telephone lines back up and runnin'—there was a big push from President Bush to start tradin', gotta get Wall Street back online."

    But the first thing Mike did when he got inside the Verizon Building that day was climb the stairs to get a look at ground zero.

    "I walked up eighteen flights, and I got up on the setback on the south side to get a good look at what was goin' on, and you're lookin', and you're lookin', and you're lookin'—and I just couldn't believe what I was seein'. We build these things. This is our city. To see that amount of destruction was unbelievable.

    "The first thing that I did was, I prayed—'cause you knew that everybody died almost instantly if they were in the building when it came down. I prayed for everybody's souls, and then I just looked.

    "It was so sunny, so clear, it was almost like—you ever experienced when you go to the Grand Canyon or someplace in nature, when you feel contact, whether you're a religious man or not, you feel a contact with either God or a higher element? Well, there was somethin'—some presence there. You could feel it. And you could feel the people who were lost. They were around. They were watchin', lookin', sayin', 'You know what—you guys'll figure this out.'"

    Pinelli worked at the Verizon Building late into the night on Saturday and all day Sunday. On his way home Sunday night, he found himself sobbing at the wheel of his truck, not sure whether he should head up to the job in Midtown or down to ground zero the next morning.

    "I was drivin' and I started cryin'. What I saw, it didn't dawn on me. You see it with your eyes, but it doesn't sink in—you don't allow yourself to let it sink in. I didn't know what to do. I was by myself, and I felt for all these people that perished. I felt for everybody down there helpin' out. I'm torn."

    Pinelli got home close to midnight.

    "I figured everybody was in bed. I go into the garage, change my clothes. I go downstairs to get some sweatpants, and as I come up the stairs, my daughters are all sittin' on the basement steps. My youngest was almost two at the time, my middle one, she was five, and my oldest was six.

    " 'What're you doin', Dad? How's everything?' I was still hazy. 'Dad, the bad guys, they flew a plane into your building, and it fell down.'

    " 'Yeah, girls, unfortunately, there are bad people that do these things, awright? They hit the building, and the building came down, and a lotta people died, but they're in a better place. Daddy was down there—everything's gonna be okay. You guys have nothin' to worry about. You're safe and you're sound.'

    "And then my middle daughter says to me, 'Dad, everything's gonna be all right. We were talkin' about it. You're gonna put it back up again. Your job is to put things back up.'

    "Here I am, sittin' on the stairs with these little girls, not knowin' what to do, completely confused—whether to go here or there, when to go back. My daughters had it figured out. They figured out what my purpose was in this whole picture. My daughters told me what I hadda do. 'Dad, your job is to put things back up.'

    "I said, 'Girls, you're right. We're gonna put 'em back up.'

    "I was cryin' again. I kissed 'em and I put 'em all to bed. Right there and then, I was squared up. They set me straight.

    "I went to work the next day and sat down with my guys. There was a meeting with thirty of us. My guys were the same, a little teary-eyed, a little foggy. Everybody felt what I was feelin'. They knew. I explained to my guys, 'We gotta get this job done. We're gonna be the first high-rise after 9/11 to get a TCO. This is what we do. We keep goin'. We're not slowin' down. We build. '

    Pinelli's smiling now.

    "And here we are today—we're back home."

    BRIAN LYONS CAME to ground zero on 9/11 to look for his brother Michael, a firefighter with Rescue Squad 41, stationed up in the Bronx. Lyons is forty-five years old, a sturdy middleweight with unblinking blue eyes, eyebrows that could use a landscaper, and a forceful voice—the sort of blare you need to be heard above the roar of heavy machinery. He's a mechanical-trades super at 7 WTC, taking his lunch break at a card table on the bare concrete of the twentieth floor.

    "When the towers came down, I knew my brother was working at the time, okay? Right away I went to his firehouse and they weren't there, so I immediately came down here to search for him. I was down in the hole, lookin' around for, for"—he clasps his hands—"I was helpin', whatever you could do. I took a leave of absence from the company that I was with and decided to stay down here and work."

    Lyons grew up in Yonkers, just north of the city, the son of a carpenter in Local 608. He served eight years in the Coast Guard, came out as a chief engineer, and went to work in construction. In 1989, he got engaged at Windows on the World, the restaurant that was on the 107th floor of the old North Tower.

    After six months of grappling and digging down in the pit, Brian Lyons found all there was left to find.

    "It was Saint Patrick's Day 2002, underneath Tower Two. There was a lotta firemen there—it seemed to be that that was where the lobby was, because of the depth of where we found 'em, down near the bottom of the pit. It came down so fast that they had no time to evacuate it."

    His voice never wavers. Matter-of-fact.

    "We don't have a positive identification through DNA—we just have the tools that they carried that's marked from their squad. During the whole process, everyone's tryin' to figure out where everybody was, where they mighta been, what squad and what truck mighta been in what building, and how far up in the building they were, and how far down you were digging. It was guesswork, tryin' to make educated guesses where these people mighta been at. That's all they are—educated guesses."

    After the last fallen beam was raised and trucked away on Memorial Day 2002, Lyons supered the rebuilding of the railroad line—an around-the-clock job that took eighteen months and three thousand workers.

    "You had this entire bathtub all flat, nothing there, with all the recovery material gone. So now you're starting from scratch. You put in new concrete footings, where the temporary building was gonna go for the station, okay? Meanwhile, new track was bein' laid in the tunnels—all this is happenin' simultaneously."

    They cleared the tunnels. They laid the track. They raised the station, roofed it, built a new crash wall, put the escalators in, and turned on the lights.

    On November 23, 2003, Brian Lyons rode from New Jersey into the new station on the very first train—four cars long, the same four cars that were the last to leave the old station the morning the towers fell—on its very first run to the World Trade Center since 9/11.

    "I was right in the front of the train, the first one stickin' my head outta the door as we pulled into the station."

    No smile. No note of triumph—even when he says, "I was proud to show the terrorists that we could get the train runnin' again as fast as possible." Lyons is telling a truth, not taking a position. "It was totally destroyed, and now it's a runnin' railroad to get people back to Lower Manhattan from New Jersey."

    But Brian Lyons wasn't done at ground zero: With the PATH train rolling, he got the job at 7. Put him down for the Freedom Tower, too.

    "I know every inch of what was built down at the train station. I built it myself, with a lot of people. I know that like the back of my hand down there. And I would stay as long as I—till the Freedom Tower's built, absolutely. They wanna build somethin' else, I'd work there, too.

    "There's a lotta people that avoid the ground-zero area—they just don't wanna see what happened down here. I welcome it. It gives me great satisfaction here at the site, because I came down here for my brother. I know where he was at, where he was found. For me to walk by that spot all the time, I have peace in my mind."

    LYONS, PINELLI, AND BECKER build buildings. So too does Larry Silverstein. Nine days before the unveiling of the new Freedom Tower design, Silverstein sips iced coffee in the conference room of Silverstein Properties' Midtown headquarters. His big brass balls are on the long, polished table, resting atop their block of granite.

    "That's carmine -red granite," Larry says. "That was quarried in Finland, shipped to Carrera, Italy, where it was cut into massive facade stones, and this material was used for the facade of the original 7 WTC. When the building was done, I was presented with this by the contractor."

    Silverstein's balls must weigh twenty pounds apiece. He built the original 7 entirely on spec—without a single tenant—hence his contractor's gesture of admiration. The new 7, set to open for business early in '06, cost $700 million for Larry to put up, and this time around he already has one tenant signed to a lease—Silverstein Properties.

    One point seven million square feet of new office space towering above the pit; one tenant: himself. Which troubles Larry...not at all. Born and raised in Brooklyn's Bed-Stuy, he has practiced as a real estate ninja—buying, selling, and building in the city—since 1953. He knows that the Empire State Building itself was derided as the "Empty State" at its Great Depression ribbon-cutting back in 1931, knows that the WTC's first Twin opened in 1970 with a total of two paying tenants.

    "There has never been an exquisite building built in this city," he says, "well designed, soundly built, superbly located—as 7 is—that hasn't ultimately rented. Sooner or later, they all rent."

    The seventy-four-year-old Silverstein is what Grammy Hall would call a real Jew, meaning that he could sell Trojans to Pope Benedict XVI—and also that you bet against Larry at your own peril. He filled the original 7 with tenants, set his sights upon the Twin Towers, and on July 24, 2001—after signing a ninety-nine-year, $3.2 billion, 1,160-page lease with the Port Authority—he got the keys to the whole doomed thing.

    Since 9/11—Silverstein missed his daily business breakfast at Windows on the World that morning only because his wife made him keep a doctor's appointment—all the chips on the table have been stacked against Larry. His lease means that he is still paying the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey $10 million monthly rent on the WTC site, and that it is also his obligation to rebuild the ten million square feet of office space crushed into the pit—"as expeditiously as possible," he likes to say. He has had to haggle with more than two dozen insurance companies: Larry's claim that because two planes flew into two towers, the attack therefore constituted two insurable incidents remains unresolved.

    In his rush to rebuild the site—Silverstein spoke to the press about doing so two days after the event—he also was playing against public opinion. Silverstein Properties lost four men on 9/11—"They left six kids," Larry says now in a muted rasp, "and that's been the toughest part of everything"—but Silverstein himself became an instant villain, not to mention an easy target, media-mocked for his suits, his ties, and his thinning hair. Since 9/11, he has been called "pushy," "rapacious," and "amazingly slimy" in print.

    Not that Larry Silverstein seems to care—"It'd be nice if they extolled my virtues, assuming I have one or two," he says, "but it's an irrelevancy": He's gambling against bigger fish now. Silverstein may have cash and clout, but the governor has been the only man whose will has ruled ground zero. George Pataki and New York City have never liked each other, but he understood that any political future he hoped to realize—whether he ran again for governor or, as has often been speculated, thought of himself as presidential timber—would hinge on what becomes of ground zero.

    And Silverstein—well, Silverstein was a Mario Cuomo guy when Pataki beat Cuomo back in '94. Silverstein is a real estate developer in a city full of them; George Pataki is a three-term governor of New York.

    Silverstein also is in thrall to a landlord, the Port Authority—lord of the bridges, ruler of the tunnels, sovereign of the ports and airports that bind the city to the rest of the globe. The Port Authority and Pataki both have stonewalled Larry Silverstein since 9/11. The PA quietly pockets the rent and dickers with Larry behind the curtain about who'll pay how much for rebuilding the vast underground infrastructure at ground zero. Pataki has set the schedule for rebuilding, spending Silverstein's rent money by proxy while also picking an architect with a master plan for the whole site, including the Freedom Tower Silverstein is paying for—despite the fact that Larry's lease clearly states his right to choose his own architect for the job.

    Meanwhile, the Port Authority, created in 1921, plays God, invisible of hand, floating in realms beyond human ken or judgment. Governors and their appointees to the PA come and go; the Authority abides. By law, the city and mayor have no say in its affairs. The PA issues its own bonds, backed by the self-replenishing stream of tolls and fees it collects; it may legally condemn private property for its uses, which is how it seized those sixteen precious acres for the WTC in the first place; and, like any deity, it reigns in silence, shunning publicity, checking all bets.

    Pataki, the Port Authority, Silverstein and his big brass balls—around and around they all went as the work crews prepped to put up the Freedom Tower. Then—ka- boom! —the police, ten months past the cornerstone laying and twelve years after the 1993 truck-bombing of the old North Twin, all of a sudden raise a concern: the new tower's vulnerability to vehicle bombs.

    "Excruciatingly frustrating," Silverstein calls it. "I am seventy-four—I don't have time for green bananas—and to see this, what transpired, was singularly unfortunate, terribly, terribly unfortunate. In the last analysis, it should not have happened. But it did. Governments just didn't get together to focus on what they need to focus on, and so the conclusion of it all is that when NYPD gave us a specific set of standards, it became instantly obvious"—here Larry Silverstein snaps his fingers hard —"there was no way we could stay with the original Freedom Tower design. And so I sat with the governor and said, 'We've got to take this, discard it, and start from scratch.' "

    By this , Silverstein means a building he never wanted to build—an asymmetrical, angular, seventy-story office tower dwarfed by a brutal 1,776-foot spike stuck to its side. This was the initial design of Pataki's chosen architect, Daniel Libeskind—a fifty-nine-year-old, black-clad, brush-cut, Polish-born, Bronx-bred critics' pet whose résumé as an architect featured exactly zero skyscrapers erected. The tallest structure Libeskind had finished, in fact, was a four-story museum. In Berlin.

    Larry Silverstein doesn't just build buildings; he also leases them, fills them with corporate tenants. That's what he does; that's how he pays for his yacht. Trying to get folks to come back to ground zero to work in a skyscraper would be challenge enough without having to find takers for 2.6 million square feet of office space inside a $1.5 billion glass pile of symbolist crapola.

    Facing this utter botch—Libeskind also had designed his cockamamie tower to be built at the pit's weakest point, without regard for the damaged slurry wall, the train tracks and tunnels, or the depth to bedrock—Silverstein had brandished his lease at Pataki early in 2003, asserting his right to choose his own architect. The most the governor was willing to do was accept Silverstein's architect—David Childs, who had studied the site carefully for years—as Daniel Libeskind's design partner. Six months of bad blood later, and $60 million more in rent, Childs and Libeskind brought forth an even uglier design than the first Libeskind tower.

    "This is not just a building," Pataki said of it. "This is a symbol of New York. This is a symbol of America. This is a symbol of freedom."

    But once the NYPD went public with its Freedom Tower security worries—the cops apparently had sent the PA a letter way back in August 2004, expressing the department's concern and urging an immediate dialogue; the PA denied it ever got the letter—Silverstein could finally force Pataki to swallow a complete redesign, with no strings to Libeskind attached.

    The governor folded, but he set one condition: The complete redesign, which would normally take at least four or five months, had to be done in eight weeks.

    Nine days from right now.

    RIGHT NOW, all David Childs has to do is figure out how to move a 1,776-foot skyscraper away from the nearest major street, blastproof its base, reconfigure its shape and floor plan, save as much of the prep work done in the pit as possible from having to be done again—and he has to do it quick.

    "It's as if you'd asked an architect to design a three-bedroom house," Childs says, "and he'd finished the working drawings and started construction—and then you said, 'Oh, no, no, no, what I really want is to have a small hospital here.' "

    Childs is behind his desk at the Wall Street office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the world's premier corporate architectural firm. SOM was founded in 1936 and has completed thousands of projects in dozens of countries. The sixty-four-year-old Childs, an SOM partner for thirty years, has built buildings—office towers, embassies, banks, corporate headquarters, courthouses—since 1968, when he was a young star fresh from the Yale School of Art and Architecture.

    Silverstein hired Childs right after he signed the lease on the Twin Towers; Larry hoped that Childs could help spruce the WTC up. After 9/11, Silverstein asked Childs to design a new tower to replace 7 WTC and to start planning four office buildings for the rest of the site.

    "He and I took a lot of grief at that time," Childs says, "because many people felt that this had now become sacred land— nothing should be done. We felt right away that it was not only important for the life of the city, but it was appropriate for the honor of the people who were working here, to show our resolve and rebuild. That's in our nature, in the nature of most living things. When you kick over an ants' nest, the ants go back and rebuild it. It's just a natural thing to want to do."

    His voice is as soothing and steady as an anchorman's, his tie as carefully knotted.

    "We are building an office building. It ought to be iconic and solemn, and yet beautiful and simple. Memorable. But it also has to be something that works . It has to be an efficient building that can attract people down here.

    "I believe in program and function being the forces that create beauty. They've got to come first. Tall buildings are the result of engineering as much as anything. These buildings are formed by a knowledge about what they are to do—it's not just an arbitrary sculptural act in which you say, 'Okay, let the engineers figure out how to do it.'

    "There's a lot of architecture that does that—and some of it's very beautiful. It's not my kind of architecture, and particularly in this case, this building has to be much more than just a sculptural gesture."

    After 9/11, Childs studied the amount of work that would have to be done to prepare the still-burning pit under the debris—the old slurry wall, the ancient PATH tubes and tracks, the below-grade mix of solid bedrock and Hudson-saturated soil—before any actual rebuilding could begin.

    "I told Larry, ' Half of this is in the water. We've got a train under here. We ought to study what all of that means, because if we get that right, then what comes out of it will be compelling—it will have its own logic. Everyone's going to rush to design what things should look like in the sky; they're never going to be built that way.' "

    Childs wanted one landmark tower to reclaim the skyline, but he thought it should be placed in the southeast quadrant of ground zero, on solid bedrock and away from the slurry wall and the PATH tracks. He also told Silverstein to hire three other architects, each of whom would design one of the buildings Larry hoped to rebuild.

    "I said that because I think that the nature of New York is a multiplicity of designs," Childs says now. "This will be built over time, and things will change. We ought to allow for that diversity."

    Larry hired three celebrity architects to whom Childs had introduced him: one from England, one from France, one from Japan. Then Childs suggested that Silverstein commission one of them to build the first tower—the landmark, the icon.

    "Larry couldn't believe it. And when the governor said, 'It has to go in the most complicated portion of the site,' Larry said, 'I can't use an architect from Japan or France. I've got to get somebody who knows this site.'"

    And so, while Daniel Libeskind still is the titular "master planning architect" of ground zero—"I never had a bad word with him in my life" is all Childs will say of their brief forced marriage—David Childs alone is now the author of the Freedom Tower. And his deadline has arrived.

    Childs leaves his office for a moment, returns with a foot-tall white plastic model, and places it on his desk.

    Slender and sloping, the Freedom Tower now rises from a solid cube of a base, a tapering pillar atop a pedestal. The edges of the tower itself are shaved like an obelisk's, forming eight faceted, elongated isosceles triangles. Halfway to the top, it is an octagon. At the top, it is a square again, smaller, rotated 45 degrees from where it began at the base. A spire, centered and anchored by a circular crown, rises from the top.

    " Dead simple," Childs says, beaming, his voice full and proud, "so that it can have some sort of memory and identification. And when you look at it from New Jersey, or flying in, or coming across the bridges, you'll know exactly where the memorial is. The memorials are the voids, the sadness of what happened. This is the victory—the triumph of the fact that we weren't defeated. We came back."

    There is something very earnest, almost boyish, about David Childs now.

    "I think this is gonna work," he grins. "I think it's gonna be delightful."

    AS IT RISES, Childs's new Freedom Tower will echo Midtown's Chrysler Building and Empire State, while the two-hundred-foot steel-clad concrete cube at its base—precisely the size of the Twins' footprints—will be set back far enough from West Street to allay any security concerns. And by shrinking and squaring the tower's base, Childs was able to move the building without undoing what has already been done in the pit.

    This is no small thing to Elio Cettina, vice-president and general super for Tishman Construction—Tishman has built buildings in New York City since 1898; they were general contractors for the Twins—who has spent most of the past year huddling with engineers, picking out cranes, planning the demolition of the old parking-garage slabs and the repairs to the bathtub, and, now, waiting to get back to work at ground zero.

    "Let's go!" Elio yelps, laughing. "We're ready to go—we wanna fill the hole up with a couple buildings. That's what I do for a living—I build buildings. I'm ready. The people are ready. We already have a staff assigned. As soon as we have a final design and commitment, we regroup that staff, put a couple trailers down in the hole, and, bingo , away we go. Right?"

    You tend to agree with Elio, who's sixty-four years old and solid as marble. He believes, and he's the kind of man who makes you believe, too. It was Elio who gave Mike Pinelli his first job at the original 7 WTC—"He's a master builder," Mike said of Elio, "but he's an even better man, a great man, a teacher of men"—and it is Elio who oversaw the resurrection of 7.

    "I knew my people were talking to Larry," Elio says, "and I couldn't wait to come back here and rebuild. Gotta put it back up. Gotta do it—and sure enough we did. Contractors, tradesmen—everybody hadda lotta resolve, and everybody worked together really well. It was a beautiful project."

    Cettina, who will build the Freedom Tower, has been working construction since he was a boy in Bologna.

    "I was actually born on the Adriatic Sea, near Trieste," he says, and you can hear it plainly—his accent is still strong, even after forty years in America. "My father was a small builder in Italy—one-story factories, commercial buildings. I remember being twelve, thirteen years old and mixing yards and yards of concrete by hand with a long-handled shovel, placing the concrete in buckets, lifting it up with a rope—no mechanical conveyance."

    Elio's ready to mix the concrete again—today, now. Like Becker, Pinelli, and Lyons, he's rooted bedrock-deep in ground zero.

    "I see the big hole, and I see the street's torn and a couple buildings still shrouded—the evidence is still there. Someday, when the new buildings are up, and there's a park where you can sit and make peace with yourself and think about what happened that day, it'll be easier to reconcile yourself at that point. Gotta fill the hole up with a couple buildings and a park, a plaza—a place you can get down in and meditate. That's what we need to do.

    "When that does happen—and it will, no question—I'll be right there. I belong there. I will be there. We need to rebuild New York, we need to rebuild downtown, and we need to make it bigger and better than it ever was. We can recuperate—no matter what. No matter what adversity is dealt to us, we can stand back up again."

    ON THE MORNING OF JUNE 29, two blocks and a world away from ground zero, a lot of very important people joined onstage in the vast, vaulted ballroom of a swanky Wall Street restaurant—a building that began life in 1836 as a thick-pillared monument to commerce, built to house a new Merchants' Exchange after the old one had been razed in the Great Fire of 1835, an inferno that had raged for fifteen hours and destroyed seven hun- dred buildings.

    Governor Pataki made his "Sacred Duty" speech, christened Childs's new spire the "Torch of Freedom," and thanked everyone on the stage—plus ten front-row dignitaries—except for Silverstein, who was onstage with him.

    "Forgive me," Pataki said, returning to the podium, "you were sitting to the side." And then, turning back to the crowd, "I didn't see him, and I don't want any reporter to try and write something into the fact that I didn't mention him. He has been a great partner, our great private-sector partner, Larry Silverstein ."

    Daniel Libeskind followed. "This is a very moving day," he said in his strong accent. "I t'ink de tower vee haff now, efter all de efforts, is even a better tower den vee hadt before."

    Silverstein remembered to thank Pataki and gave a shout out to "the people who build these buildings—the construction workers."

    David Childs thanked Libeskind—"Danny," he called him—"not just for his master plan but his very gracious words and his support through this." He thanked Silverstein for being "as much a partner as a client." Then, standing beside a large, lit model of the building, Childs offered a PowerPoint rundown of his new Freedom Tower—designed to reach, before its spire begins, to the precise height of the old Twins.

    The Port Authority had no representative onstage. When a reporter noted the PA's absence, Pataki said, "I think the entire Port appreciates that this isn't about any entity . This is about our future , this is about our freedom , this is about America ." Not really. This is about New York City, about the $3-trillion-per-year engine of the Financial District purring under our chairs and powering the whole world. America without New York City is Nebraska, and freedom without money is a dirt sandwich.

    In the grip of hurt, of horror, of doom past and yet to come, still and always we work to make the things that make us human—love and children, money and art. We build buildings. That's what this is about.

    The pit, meanwhile, is not a metaphor. There, in a plywood box painted blue and covered by a tarp, sits that twenty-ton cornerstone next to a concrete footing half filled with nothing but rainwater.


    Now come the engineers. Designing. Planning. Testing. Integrating. Budgeting. Scheduling. When they've figured it all out, the work crews will come back to the hole, throw a couple of construction trailers down there, and start filling it up. They'll hammer and drill down to bedrock, sink the cornerstone back into the earth, and finally start building to the sky. 

    Copyright © 1997-2005 by the Hearst Corporation.

  13. #1573


    Quote Originally Posted by alonzo-ny
    People really expect a holiday? If there is a holiday for the wtc, as bad as it was, there are many other things of the same magnitude that have happened so we'd never have to work a day in our lives.
    oh yeah? name one

    Single greatest loss of civilian life in American history
    Second bloodiest day in American history (1st is Antietam)
    First attack on the US since 1941, First attack on mainland US since the war of 1812
    how about starting point of what is looking like WWIII

    I don't mean to start that whole "my grief is greater than yours" thing but when you have a piece of an engine fly through the office one floor above yours you might get a little pissed off.

  14. #1574


    Quote Originally Posted by Jake
    oh yeah? name one

    Single greatest loss of civilian life in American history
    Second bloodiest day in American history (1st is Antietam)
    First attack on the US since 1941, First attack on mainland US since the war of 1812
    how about starting point of what is looking like WWIII

    I don't mean to start that whole "my grief is greater than yours" thing but when you have a piece of an engine fly through the office one floor above yours you might get a little pissed off.
    On that note we should have a holiday to commemorate all the innocent people that needlessly died in Iraq, at the rate things are going the death toll will shortly surpass that of the terrorist attacks of September 11th.

  15. #1575


    No doubt there will be a memorial to those soldiers one day and they are honored on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. It is clear to see however that there is a difference between dying after conciously joining the armed forces, an institution that deals with death, rahter than joining Cantor Fitzgerald, right?
    Don't join the armed forces unless you're ready to die- this doesn't apply to civilians.

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