Monday, March 10, 2014

1 World Trade Center: A Modern Miracle

Architect Magazine rendering
Admirers of the "can-do" generations of yester-year lament how difficult it is to construct large projects today, if they are undertaken at all. The new 1 World Trade Center, then, is a modern miracle of smarts, technology, material science, design, architecture, and human determination. It will be completed 13 years after the twin towers were destroyed. The reason it took so long was because of its "nearly impossible mandate":
One World Trade Center needed to be a public response to 9/11 while providing valuable commercial real estate for its private owners, to be open to its neighbors yet safe for its occupants. It needed to acknowledge the tragedy from which it was born while serving as a triumphant affirmation of the nation’s resilience in the face of it.

“It was meant to be all things to all people,” says Christopher Ward, who helped manage the rebuilding as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. “It was going to answer every question that it raised. Was it an answer to the terrorists? Was the market back? Was New York going to be strong? That’s what was really holding up progress.”
1 World Trade Center is also a miracle of project management.
10,000 workers attempting one of the most complicated construction projects ever in one of the most densely populated places on the planet. The design, almost entirely [architect David] Childs’, called for a 104-story tower that includes a bomb-resistant 20-story base set on 70-ton shafts of steel and pilings sunk some 200 ft. into the earth. This unseen subterranean structure would support 48,000 tons of steel — the equivalent of 22,500 full-size cars — and almost 13,000 exterior glass panels sheathing a concrete core crowned by a 408-ft. spire whose beacon would glow at the symbolic height of 1,776 ft. (eclipsing Chicago’s Willis Tower as the tallest building in the western hemisphere). The structure includes enough concrete to lay a sidewalk from Manhattan to Chicago. And that was just one part of a 16-acre project that was the equivalent of building five Empire State Buildings on a plot of land the size of a suburban shopping mall — while tens of thousands of commuters traveled under the work zone each day.
The plans for the original twin towers were disclosed in 1961, and the towers were open for business in 1973. Even our "can-do" forebears might be impressed by what has arisen in their place.

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