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 Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal 

Paperbacknovel contributor Dick Sheppard, who works in an office directly overlooking the World Trade Center site, hopes to track progress of the ascent of Freedom Tower, which at 1776 feet will be [more]

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Sept. 11, 2006 and Tribute in Lights

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Building Freedom Tower

May 2007 Installment of the Monthly Journal

[Read the sidebar, Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal for introduction]


By Dick Sheppard

Period ending 5/18/07

New Twin "Towers"

In the last update, I noted a massive structural element apparently centered in the Freedom Tower footprint. I speculated this was some sort of foundation anchoring element. But as with previous guesses about what any given foundation elements might be, this was incorrect. That central structure is a tower crane that will build at least the initial Freedom Tower steelwork! And no sooner had the Freedom Tower’s first stationary tower crane added the “boom” cab atop the tower, the tread-crawling conventional crane was quickly disassembled and removed. A quick “lift” transition. And just as the Goldman Sachs tower across West Street from Freedom Tower sprouts several cranes, sure enough, the first Freedom Tower crane immediately constructed a "twin." Now, even though there is no additional above-ground Freedom Tower construction evident, the stage is set for erecting steel. The Goldman site boasts four tower cranes, and steel rises fast there. This rapid-fire building offers confidence that there is a real desire and need for Lower Manhattan commercial towers. There is even some preliminary bickering over the type of tower that will eventually occupy the final WTC building site, where the Deutsche building is presently being disassembled. If people are already bickering over a to-be-designed building that’s six years from completion at least, then there’s doubtless interest in the towers that are planned and will be built.

The New "Twin Tower" Freedom Tower cranes (four Goldman Sachs cranes are erected on building behind site)

East Bathtub along Church Street 

East bathtub wall building goes on constantly from early a.m. to late afternoon and likely sometimes beyond. Activity predominates at southeast corner of the entire WTC site, and also north along Church Street. A milling machine now bores wall sections on the Vesey Street line, at the northeast quadrant of the WTC site. Inside of the wall-building perimeter, surface earth is being removed, and inside this "mini-quarry" are assembled the rebar cages that serve as the “wall skeleton.” Soon, the present PATH station access will move 75 feet south down Church Street, there's an opening just west of Church Street, behind the site fence that might serve as the station stairway entrance. It will be very near where pedestrians in the old WTC concourse would access the R/W/N trains at the extreme eastside of the old concourse.  

Fulton Transit Hub

Beyond WTC site Freedom Tower and wall-building, transportation projects abound. At the Fulton transit hub, scaffolding and a gauzy fabric enshroud the 11-story 200 Broadway. Like the Deutsche Bank building, this building comes down forthwith. Another 9/11-streetscape robbery; a collateral building casualty years past the attack. Right at the southeast corner of Broadway and Fulton the short corner building is stripped down to ironwork. That remaining steel may be gone very soon, and when it is, that empty lot is the main Fulton hub site. Metal cylinders are being emplaced by the tall, drilling-rig-type foundation boring machines at the southwest corner of Broadway and Dey, where some buildings were removed. This will likely be a Fulton Street subway access station while the main Fulton hub is being built?

Steel framework is emplaced at the prime Fulton Transit hub site at the southeast corner of Fulton and Broadway. At street-level, the corner building has been reduced to it's steel framework. Thus you have steel framework being removed above ground, and steel framework being built underground.

Shrouded 198-200 Broadway building, prepared for demo

Fulton Transit hub primary site at s-e corner Broadway & Fulton

Fulton Transit hub primary site at s-e corner Broadway & Fulton.

Down Under Cortlandt & Broadway

At the Cortlandt and Broadway intersection, the rebar floor is being poured with concrete. This entire under-street intersection is widening out to include what was an existing subway access stairway for the 3, 4, 5 trains at that southwest corner of the Broadway/Cortlandt intersection. These stairs will likely be another subway access apart from the Fulton hub access? All of these projects are going full blazes at 7:30 a.m. when I emerge from the temporary PATH station and make my way to my One Liberty Plaza office. Sometimes heading down Church and up Cortlandt, or sometimes up Fulton and down Broadway to Cortlandt. Each route offers a constantly updating view each piece of the ongoing projects.

Deutsche Bank Accident

The Deutsche Bank building demo was off to a noticeable start once they got underway. It seemed like the floors would be flying off the building. A few have, but rather than see increasingly dramatic views opening to the west from our office, the steel itself isn’t coming down as fast as it seemed it might. 

Work Above and Under ground - 
Broadway looking north at Cortlandt

However, you can tell that the upper 10 or so floors are completely gutted internally.  It’s a matter of cutting and removing the steel skeleton, which may happen fast after all. The crane never ceases raising empty and lowering full dumpsters, in between lowering clusters of steel columns. 

Men at work near top of the Deutsch Bank demo

On Thursday, May 17, an 8-foot section of pipe about 3" in diameter somehow got loose and fell 300 feet onto the top of Ladder 10 firehouse on Liberty and Greenwich, ripping a hole in the roof and causing interior damage on in the second story of that already 9/11-scarred fire station. This accident has for now halted Deutsche building demo work; more issues on that troublesome structure. 

Commercial rules

Post-9/11 Lower Manhattan will forever generate debate, but rebuilding WTC primarily as a commercial development, as opposed to a mixed residential/hotel/commercial/cultural undertaking, seems the right call. This is not because one use is “better” than another. Commercial rebuilding makes sense, because despite an encroaching residential component, Lower Manhattan maintains a position as one of the world’s leading financial districts. Lower Manhattan evolves in ways unforeseen, but into the foreseeable future, Lower Manhattan equals Wall Street. Wall Street means Big Shots, generating Big Money, in Big Businesses. Big Businesses, even in an era of dispersible assets, telecommuting staff, and globalized outsourcing, still derive benefits from the concentrated synergistic energies embodied in massive, cutting edge towers. And the foundations for massive towers are underway at WTC.

One ought never dismiss the prestige element for corporations and big shots, particularly in discussing Wall Street’s big-name firms. Naysayers declare that commercial space at WTC makes no sense: the market can’t absorb it. Besides, who wants to work in a “target?” Such naysayers! Eventually Freedom Tower and the other World Trade Center towers will be highly desired and highly desirable addresses, even if competing real estate interests downplay the potential for their own interests.

Following the destruction of the World Trade Center, and that is now more than five years past, there were many competing visions for those empty sixteen acres. There was never a serious notion of just replacing what was there, as poignantly sentimental such a notion could be. The “twin towers” were soaring symbols of American ingenuity and financial preponderance; they were lovely buildings, though others might recall them as starkly rectangular, linearly uninspiring or “sterile.” They overtopped our NYC skyline and were attacked as such. Whatever replaces them, sufficiently massive, will ever inspire.


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