One World Trade Center (also known as the Freedom Tower, 1 World Trade Center, One WTC and 1 WTC) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City. It is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the sixth-tallest in the world. The supertall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center, which was completely destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The new skyscraper stands on the northwest corner of the 16-acre (6.5 ha) World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center. The building is bounded by West Street to the west, Vesey Street to the north, Fulton Street to the south, and Washington Street to the east.
The building’s architect was David Childs, whose firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) also designed the Burj Khalifa and the Willis Tower. The construction of below-ground utility relocations, footings, and foundations for the new building began on April 27, 2006. One World Trade Center became the tallest structure in New York City on April 30, 2012, when it surpassed the height of the Empire State Building. The tower’s steel structure was topped out on August 30, 2012. On May 10, 2013, the final component of the skyscraper’s spire was installed, making the building, including its spire, reach a total height of 1,776 feet (541 m). Its height in feet is a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The building opened on November 3, 2014.
On March 30, 2009, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) confirmed that the building would be officially known by its legal name of “One World Trade Center”, rather than its colloquial name of “Freedom Tower”. The building is 104 standard floors high, but the tower has only 94 actual stories.
The new World Trade Center complex will eventually include five high-rise office buildings built along Greenwich Street, as well as the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, located just south of One World Trade Center where the original Twin Towers stood. The construction of the new building is part of an effort to memorialize and rebuild following the destruction of the original World Trade Center complex.
Planning and early development:
Following the destruction of the original World Trade Center, there was debate regarding the future of the World Trade Center site. There were proposals for its reconstruction almost immediately, and by 2002, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation had organized a competition to determine how to use the site. The proposals were part of a larger plan to memorialize the September 11 attacks and rebuild the complex. When the public rejected the first round of designs, a second, more open competition took place in December 2002, in which a design by Daniel Libeskind was selected as the winner. This design went through many revisions, mainly because of disagreements with developer Larry Silverstein, who held the lease to the World Trade Center site at that time.
There was criticism concerning the limited number of floors that were designated for office space and other amenities in an early plan. Only 82 floors would have been habitable, and the total office space of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex would have been reduced by more than 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2) in comparison with the original complex. The floor limit was imposed by Silverstein, who expressed concern that higher floors would be a liability in the event of a future terrorist attack or other incident. Much of the building’s height would have consisted of a large, open-air steel lattice structure on the roof of the tower, containing wind turbines and “sky gardens”. In a subsequent design, the highest occupiable floor became comparable to the original World Trade Center, and the open-air lattice was removed from the plans. In 2002, former New York Governor George Pataki faced accusations of cronyism for supposedly using his influence to get the winning architect’s design picked as a personal favor for his friend and campaign contributor, Ron Lauder.
A final design for the “Freedom Tower” was formally unveiled on June 28, 2005. To address security issues raised by the New York City Police Department, a 187-foot (57 m) concrete base was added to the design in April of that year. The design originally included plans to clad the base in glass prisms in order to address criticism that the building might have looked uninviting and resembled a “concrete bunker”. However, the prisms were later found to be unworkable, as preliminary testing revealed that the prismatic glass easily shattered into large and dangerous shards. As a result, it was replaced by a simpler facade consisting of stainless steel panels and blast-resistant glass.
Contrasting with Libeskind’s original plan, the tower’s final design tapers octagonally as it rises. Its designers stated that the tower would be a “monolithic glass structure reflecting the sky and topped by a sculpted antenna.” In 2006, Larry Silverstein commented on a planned completion date: “By 2012 we should have a completely rebuilt World Trade Center, more magnificent, more spectacular than it ever was.” On April 26, 2006, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a conceptual framework that allowed foundation construction to begin. A formal agreement was drafted the following day, the 75th anniversary of the 1931 opening of the Empire State Building. Construction began in May; a formal groundbreaking ceremony took place when the first construction team arrived.
Construction and later development:
The symbolic cornerstone of One World Trade Center was laid in a ceremony on July 4, 2004. The stone had an inscription supposedly written by Arthur J. Finkelstein. However, construction was delayed until 2006 due to disputes over money, security, and design. The last major issues were resolved on April 26, 2006, when a deal was made between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so the cornerstone was temporarily removed from the site on June 23, 2006. Soon after, explosives were detonated at the construction site for two months to clear bedrock for the building’s foundation, onto which 400 cubic yards (310 cubic meters) of concrete was poured by November 2007.
In a December 18, 2006, ceremony held in nearby Battery Park City, members of the public were invited to sign the first 30-foot (9.1 m) steel beam installed onto the building’s base. It was welded onto the building’s base on December 19, 2006. Foundation and steel installation began shortly afterward, so the tower’s footings and foundation were nearly complete within a year.
In January 2008, two cranes were moved onto the site. Construction of the tower’s concrete core, which began after the cranes arrived, reached street level by May 17. However, construction of the base was not finished until two years later, after which construction of the office floors began, and the first glass windows were subsequently installed; during 2010, floors were constructed at a rate of about one per week. An advanced “cocoon” scaffolding system was installed to protect workers from falling, and was the first such safety system installed on a steel structure in the city. The tower reached 52 floors and was over 600 feet (180 m) tall by December 2010. The tower’s steel frame was halfway complete by then, but grew to 82 floors by the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, at which time its concrete flooring had reached 72 floors and the glass cladding had reached 56 floors.
In 2009, the Port Authority changed the official name of the building from “Freedom Tower” to “One World Trade Center”, stating that this name was the “easiest for people to identify with.” The change came after board members of the Port Authority voted to sign a 21-year lease deal with Vantone Industrial Co., a Chinese real estate company, which will become the building’s first commercial tenant. Vantone plans to create the China Center, a trade and cultural facility, covering 191,000 square feet on floors 64 through 69.
Detailed floor plans of the tower were posted on the New York City’s Department of Finance website in May 2011, resulting in an uproar from the media and citizens of the surrounding area, who warned that the plans could potentially be used for a future terrorist attack.
While under construction, the tower was specially illuminated on several occasions. On the weekend of July 4, 2011, it was lit up with the colors of the American flag to commemorate Independence Day, and it was lit up with the same colors on September 11 to mark the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. On October 27 of that same year, it was illuminated with pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. On December 11, the Port Authority illuminated the tower with multicolored lights to celebrate the holiday season. On February 24, 2012, the building was lit up with red in honor of Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who became a cardinal on February 18. On June 14, 2012, it was illuminated with red, white, and blue to honor Flag Day. In August, it was illuminated with red in honor of the Armed Forces. On September 8, 2012, it was once again illuminated with red, white, and blue to honor the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. On June 24, 2013, the building was again illuminated with red, white, and blue to celebrate the Fourth of July. On November 12, 2013, three hundred red, white, and blue lights were lit up.
The tower’s loading dock, however, was not due to be finished in time to move equipment into the completed building, so five temporary loading bays were added at a cost of millions of dollars. The temporary PATH station was not to be removed until its official replacement, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, was completed, blocking access to the planned loading area. By March 2012, One World Trade Center’s steel structure had reached 93 floors, growing to 94 floors and 1,240 feet (380 m) by the end of the month. However, because the floor numberings were based on standard measurements, the 94th floor was numbered “floor 100”, because the extra space was occupied by the high-ceilinged 91st floor, which was used for mechanical purposes.
The still-incomplete tower became New York City’s tallest building by roof height in April 2012, passing the 1,250-foot (380 m) roof height of the Empire State Building. President Barack Obama visited the construction site two months later and wrote, on a steel beam that would be hoisted to the top of the tower, the sentence “We remember, we rebuild, we come back stronger!” That same month, with the tower’s structure nearing completion, the owners of the building began a public marketing campaign for the building, seeking to attract visitors and tenants.
One World Trade Center’s steel structure topped out at the nominal 104th floor, with a total height of 1,368 feet (417 m), in August 2012. The tower’s antenna was shipped to New York in November 2012; the first section of the antenna was hoisted to the top of the tower on December 12, 2012, and was installed on January 15, 2013. By March 2013, two sections of the antenna had been installed. The spire’s completion was scheduled for April 29, 2013, but bad weather delayed the delivery of the final pieces. On May 10, 2013, the final piece of the spire was lifted to the top of One World Trade Center, bringing the tower to its full height of 1,776 feet (541 m), and making it the fourth-tallest building in the world, as well as the tallest in the city, surpassing the 1,454-foot (443 m) Empire State Building. In subsequent months, the exterior elevator shaft was removed; the podium glass, interior decorations, and other finishings were being installed; and installation of concrete flooring and steel fittings was completed.
A report in September 2013 revealed that, at the time of the report, the World Trade Center Association (WTCA) was negotiating with regard to the “World Trade Center” name, as the WTCA had purchased the rights to the name in 1986. The WTCA sought $500,000 worth of free office space in the tower in exchange for the use of “World Trade Center” in the tower’s name and associated souvenirs.
On November 12, 2013, the Height Committee of the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) made the controversial announcement that One World Trade Center was the tallest building in the United States at 1,776 feet, declaring that the mast on top of the building is a spire since it is a permanent part of the building’s architecture. By the same reasoning, the building was also the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.
Just south of the new One World Trade Center is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which is located where the original Twin Towers stood. Immediately to the east is World Trade Center Transportation Hub and the new Two World Trade Center site. To the north is Seven World Trade Center, and to the west is Brookfield Place.
One World Trade Center’s top floor is officially designated as floor 104, despite the fact that the tower only contains 94 actual stories. The building has 86 usable above-ground floors, of which 78 are intended for office purposes (approximately 2,600,000 square feet (240,000 m2)). The base consists of floors 1–19, including a 65-foot-high (20 m) public lobby. The office floors begin at floor 20, and go up to floor 63. There is a sky lobby on floor 64; office floors resume on floor 65, and stop at floor 90. Floors 91–99 and 103–104 are mechanical floors.
The tower has a three-story observation deck, located on floors 100–102, in addition to existing broadcast and antenna facilities. Similar to in the Empire State Building, visitors will be separated from the tenants, having their own separate entrance next to the museum, descending down to a below-ground security screening area. On the observation deck, the actual viewing space is on the 100th floor, but there will be a food court on the 101st floor and a space for events for the 102nd floor. To show visitors the city, and give them information and stories about New York, an interactive tool called City Pulse is used by Tour Ambassadors. The admission fee will be $32 per person, but admission discounts are available for children and seniors, and the deck will be free for 9/11 responders and families of 9/11 victims. When it opens, the deck is expected to have about 3.5 million visitors per year. Tickets went on sale starting on April 8. However, the Manhattan District Attorney probed the Port Authority about the firm to which it awarded a contract to operate the deck. It officially opened on May 28, 2015, one day ahead of schedule.
There are three eating venues at the top of the building: a café (called One Café), a bar and “small plates” grill (One Mix), and a fine dining restaurant (One Dining). Some have criticized the food prices; the need of a full observatory ticket purchase to enter; and their reputations compared to Windows on the World, the top-floor restaurant in the original One World Trade Center. The tenants have access to below-ground parking, storage, and shopping; access to PATH, New York City Subway trains, and the World Financial Center is also provided at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, Fulton Street/Fulton Center, Chambers Street, and Cortlandt Street stations. The building allows direct access to West Street, Vesey Street, and Fulton Street at ground level. The building has an approximate underground footprint of 42,000 square feet (3,900 m2), of which 55,000 square feet (5,100 m2) is retail space. A plan to build a restaurant near the top of the tower, similar to the original One World Trade Center’s Windows on the World, was abandoned as logistically impractical. The tower’s window-washing tracks are located on a 16-square-foot area, which will be designated as floor 110 as a symbolic reference to the 110 floors of the original tower.
The original design went through significant changes after the Durst Organization joined the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as the co-developer of the project in 2010.
The 185-foot (56 m) tall base corners were originally designed to gently slope upward, and have prismatic glass. The corners were later squared. In addition, the base’s walls are now covered in “hundreds of pairs of 13-foot vertical glass fins set against horizontal bands of eight-inch-wide stainless-steel slats.”
The spire was originally to be enclosed with a protective radome, described as a “sculptural sheath of interlocking fiberglass panels”. However, the radome-enclosed spire was changed to a plain antenna. Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, stated that the design change would save $20 million. However, the tower’s architect, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, strongly criticized the change. David Childs, the lead designer, said, “Eliminating this integral part of the building’s design and leaving an exposed antenna and equipment is unfortunate…We stand ready to work with the Port on an alternate design.” After joining the project in 2010, the Durst Organization had suggested eliminating the radome to reduce costs, but the proposal was rejected by the Port Authority’s then-executive director, Christopher O. Ward. Ward was replaced by Patrick Foye in September 2011. Foye changed the Port Authority’s position, and the radome was removed from the plans. In 2012, Douglas Durst gave a statement regarding the final decision: “(the antenna) is going to be mounted on the building over the summer. There’s no way to do anything at this point.”
The large triangular plaza on the west side of One World Trade Center, facing the Hudson River, was originally planned to have stainless steel steps descending to the street. However, the steps were changed to a terrace in the final design. The terrace can be accessed through a staircase on Vesey Street. The terrace is paved in granite, and has 12 sweetgum trees, in addition to a block-long planter/bench.
Durst also removed a skylight from the plaza’s plans; the skylight was designed to allow natural light to enter the below-ground observation deck lobby. The plaza is 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m) higher than the adjacent sidewalk.
The Port Authority formally approved all these revisions, and the revisions were first reported by the New York Post. Patrick Foye, the executive director of the Port Authority, said that he thought that the changes were “few and minor” in a telephone interview.
A contract negotiated between the Port Authority and the Durst Organization states that the Durst Organization will receive a $15 million fee and a percentage of “base building changes that result in net economic benefit to the project.” The specifics of the signed contract give Durst 75 percent of the savings, up to $24 million, with further returns going down to 50 percent, 25 percent and 15 percent as the savings increase.
The top floor of One World Trade Center is 1,368 feet (417 m) above ground level, along with a 33 ft 4 in (10.16 m) parapet; this is identical to the roof height of the original One World Trade Center. The tower’s antenna/spire brings it to a pinnacle height of 1,776 feet (541 m), a figure intended to symbolize the year 1776, when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. If the antenna is included in the building’s height, as stated by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), One World Trade Center surpasses the height of Taipei 101 (1,671-foot (509 m)), is the world’s tallest all-office building, and the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa, Abraj Al Bait, and Shanghai Tower.
One World Trade Center is the second-tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere, as the CN Tower in Toronto exceeds One World Trade Center’s pinnacle height by approximately 12 m (39.4 ft). The Chicago Spire, with a planned height of 2,000 feet (610 m), was expected to exceed the height of One World Trade Center, but its construction was canceled due to financial difficulties in 2009.
After design changes for One World Trade Center’s spire were revealed in May 2012, there were questions as to whether the 408-foot (124 m)-tall structure would still qualify as a spire, and thus be included in the building’s height. Since the tower’s spire is not enclosed in a radome as originally planned, it could be classified as a simple antenna, which is not included in a building’s height, according to the CTBUH. Without the antenna, One World Trade Center would be 1,368 feet (417 m) tall, making it the fourth-tallest building in the United States, behind the Willis Tower and Trump International Hotel & Tower, both located in Chicago, and 432 Park Avenue in New York. The building is currently the tallest in New York City with the antenna; however, without the antenna, it was surpassed in 2015 by 432 Park Avenue, which topped out at 1,396 feet (426 m) high. One World Trade Center’s developers have disputed the claim that the spire should be reclassified as an antenna following the redesign, with Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman reiterating that “One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.” In 2012, the CTBUH announced that it would wait to make its final decision as to whether or not the redesigned spire would count towards the building’s height. On November 12, 2013, the CTBUH announced that One World Trade Center’s spire would count as part of the building’s recognized height, giving it a final height of 1,776 feet, and making it the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
Like other buildings in the new World Trade Center complex, One World Trade Center includes sustainable architecture features. Much of the building’s structure and interior is built from recycled materials, including gypsum boards and ceiling tiles; around 80 percent of the tower’s waste products are recycled. Although the roof area of any tower is limited, the building implements a rainwater collection and recycling scheme for its cooling systems. The building’s PureCell phosphoric acid fuel cells generate 4.8 megawatts (MW) of power, and its waste steam generates electricity. The New York Power Authority selected UTC Power to provide the tower’s fuel cell system, which was one of the largest fuel cell installations in the world once completed. The tower also makes use of off-site hydroelectric and wind power. The windows are made of an ultra-clear glass, which allows maximum sunlight to pass through; the interior lighting is equipped with dimmers that automatically dim the lights on sunny days, reducing energy costs. Like all of the new facilities at the World Trade Center site, One World Trade Center is heated by steam, with limited oil or natural gas utilities on-site. One World Trade Center is expected to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, making it one of the most environmentally sustainable skyscrapers in the world.
Safety and security
Along with the protection provided by the reinforced concrete base, a number of other safety features were included in the building’s design, so that it would be prepared for a major accident or terrorist attack. Like 7 World Trade Center, the building has 3-foot (91 cm) thick reinforced concrete walls in all stairwells, elevator shafts, risers, and sprinkler systems. There are also extra-wide, pressurized stairwells, along with a dedicated set of stairwells exclusively for the use of firefighters, and biological and chemical filters throughout the ventilation system. In comparison, the original Twin Towers used a purely steel central core to house utility functions, protected only by lightweight drywall panels.
The building is no longer 25 feet (8 m) away from West Street, as the Twin Towers were; at its closest point, West Street is 65 feet (20 m) away. The windows facing West Street are equipped with specially tempered blast-resistant plastic, which looks almost like the glass used in the other sides of the building. The Port Authority has stated: “Its structure is designed around a strong, redundant steel moment frame consisting of beams and columns connected by a combination of welding and bolting. Paired with a concrete-core shear wall, the moment frame lends substantial rigidity and redundancy to the overall building structure while providing column-free interior spans for maximum flexibility.”
In addition to safety design, new security measures will be implemented. All vehicles will be screened for radioactive materials and other potentially dangerous objects before they enter the site through the underground road. Four hundred closed-circuit surveillance cameras will be placed in and around the site, with live camera feeds being continuously monitored by the NYPD. A computer system will use video-analytic computer software, designed to detect potential threats, such as unattended bags, and retrieve images based on descriptions of terrorists or other criminal suspects. New York City and Port Authority police will patrol the site.
Once the World Trade Center site is fully completed, the plaza will be completely opened to the public, as the original World Trade Center plaza was. The initial stage of the opening process began on Thursday, May 15, 2014, when the “Interim Operating Period” of the National September 11 Memorial ended. During this period, all visitors were required to undergo airport style security screening, as part of the “Interim Operating Period”, which was expected to end on December 31, 2013. However, screening did not fully end until the official dedication and opening of the museum on May 21, 2014, after which visitors were allowed to use the plaza without needing passes.
April 27, 2006
May 29, 2015
1,776 ft (541.3 m)
1,792 ft (546.2 m)
1,368 ft (417.0 m)
1,268 ft (386.5 m)
1,254 ft (382.2 m)
94 (+5 below ground floors)
3,501,274 sq ft (325,279 m2)