Certainly any attempt to bring down Freedom Tower is going to require much more than even the largest envisioned airliner say, thirty years from now. The Freedom Tower work is primarily foundation enlargement, and deepening. You wonder if they went this deep into the rock for the original towers. They are down no into the rock at least 15 feet, and no steel has been set within. While there has been activity around the Memorial sections of the site, there was much more prior to the five-year commemoration. There seems to be a let-up at the Memorial footprints.
Perhaps the lag is due to the down-to-the-wire negotiations on the deal under which the entire towers-portion development is being built. A final, definitive plan was supposed to be signed by 9/11/06, but it’s been two weeks and there’s been a tentative agreement between the PA and Larry Silverstein. Several Federal Government tenants will be housed in the Freedom Tower, which is being built by Larry but will be owned by the Port Authority. Among the other three planned towers, Larry will own them and the PA will own the land. It gets confusing, but the upshot is the government and other interests are nervous about having so much space on the market. It’s all foot-dragging.
The PA agreed to leases space among the other three towers, but then the Chairman of the PA said he wouldn’t himself work, or force anyone to work anywhere around the new WTC site. The Times even interviewed people who said they wouldn’t work in the building, government workers. So it looks as if no one will rent space there, but that was exactly what was said about Larry’s 7 WTC, which is almost 70% rented now.
The PA is obligated to prepare the east side where Larry will build the towers he will own. A timetable has been set, so there’s progress, but there’s some uncertainty. Nicole
Gelinas, normally a voice of reason, argued in today’s (9/22) NY Post that maybe the Freedom Tower should be held in abeyance until the other site towers are built and rented. This is unlike Nicole, so it’s unnerving to read that even as a FINAL agreement is imminent, the flagship component of the site, Freedom Tower, should be re-thought yet again. I have an unsettling feeling apposite my optimistic outlook following the five-year commemoration. I hope I’m wrong.
Weeks Ending 9/8/06
for the Fifth Anniversary
good to report that it has been an eventful two weeks at the WTC site,
notwithstanding that there was once again a good amount of rain, which
makes the bathtub portion of the site look forlorn and neglected. But
it really isn't anymore, and I dare predict, won't ever be again. The
WTC site is building to a full-blown construction site with all the
implications, including: buildings! (Still years off…).
the site itself, there are increasing numbers of workers. In
the past, some commentators have noted that for the most part,
the workers on the WTC site have been marking time, shuffling
things around and not building anything, as the pols and other
interests dickered and fro'd. But that is changing. I can see
the numbers increasing directly, but also you can tell they're
doing purposeful things down there, not just at the Freedom
Tower footprint (where they are going gangbusters) but all across
the site. Deep trenches are being dug, drilling rigs all around,
especially where they've partially diverted the Church Street
sidewalk at the southeast corner.
lots of work in the vicinity of the Vesey Stairs, all along
the north border of the site, along Vesey Street. In coming
months, PATH commuters will be exiting on Vesey Street to allow
for construction of the soaring new PATH station. Right down
on the PATH tracks as you look through the gauzy curtain and
fence of the Freedom Tower site, you can see how deep into the
Manhattan Schist bedrock they've cut, as noted earlier. But
they go deeper and more precisely into the rock, still. And
along the east border of the Freedom Tower footprint, right
parallel to the western most PATH track, is yet another trench,
with protruding rebar. Work is being done. More footings for
all that will be arising around Freedom Tower.
Freedom Tower, pneumatic drills tips which are shaping the rock,
differ in size. There's a larger blunt tip which pulverizes
large areas, and now, I've seen them using a very narrow-tip
pneumatic bit. You get a sense of "surgery" how carefully
they are making the rock cuts. Even as I watch from 30 stories
up, I can hear the "thump, thmp, thump" of the drilling.
So on Freedom Tower site, I predict footings soon and steel
rising right after.
to note, diagonally across West Street from the Freedom Tower
quadrant/corner, at the Goldman Sachs site, the rock cut they've
made is massive. It's a sloping cut into the rock that looks
like the side of a mountain; a natural formation. Schist is
pretty rock, especially the lighter variety. To think this rock,
both under the WTC and Goldman sites, has formed hundreds of
millions of years ago, undisturbed. And then one day some drilling,
blasting and pneumatic work, and it's exposed into the bright
sunlight, gleaming. The Goldman site is encased in a metallic
bathtub of interlocked metal strip piles, instead of a WTC-like
slurry wall. Different footings for different sites and towers.
yesterday, Larry Silverstein's company released a working "final"
design for the three towers besides Freedom Tower which will
arise at the WTC site. These will run along Church Street --
Tower 2 (78 stories) the north-most, at the corner of Church
and Vesey Streets, will be as tall as the Empire State Building.
The very tippy-top of it's triangular antennae will nearly reach
Freedom Tower's roofline. That's a big-boy tower. And it's a
very forward-looking design, topped by four diamond-shaped rooflines
which will slope steeply down toward the plaza far below. When
prep work is being done for Tower 2, however, a decision will
have to be made about the Vesey Stairs, which are on that footprint.
3 (71 stories), and 4 (61 stories), are correspondingly
shorter (though both still taller than the tallest existing
Lower Manhattan skyscrapers), in final deference to the
since-discarded Libeskind Master Plan, which called for
this shortening of building heights as they go north-to-south.
Tower 3 echoes Tower 2's diamond roofline, with diamond
cross-beam patterns rising up the sides. Tower 3 is rectangular,
with four spires ascending each corner at the roofline.
Tower 4 (61 stories), which even being the shortest overtops
the building I report from, One Liberty Plaza, rises as
a rectangle and then alters towards a roofline which too
slopes in deference to its surroundings. This changing shape
ties Tower 4 to Tower 3, which has an offset shape at the
it turns out, even the shortest tower of the group, Tower 4,
will overtop any other building in Lower Manhattan - at 695
feet it will outrank my Liberty Plaza by at least 100 feet.
The digital depictions show both Freedom Tower and Tower 2 soaring
over the rest of the skyline. I know some people may have loved
to have seen two identical buildings to recall the lost Twin
Towers, but these two massive towers are not that different
in height, and they look awe-inspiring together, at least to
this amateur critic.
you stand at the intersection where Trinity Place turns
into Church Street, right at Liberty Street, and look up,
you get a sense of the scale of the "Big 3" towers
that will march north. That first stretch of Church Street
will be encased in buildings, a loss of light that can't
be avoided. The light, instead, will be shifted to the west
side of the site, where it will better bathe the Memorial
itself. First impressions: positive; each building designed
by a different architect, but together, NY Times reporter
David Dunlap describes them as a Jazz Quartet. Anybody got
anything against a jazz quartet? (Mr. Dunlap was not so
kind to Larry Silverstein in his overall commentary; my
response to him is (here)). It's been a frustrating wait,
with some anxiety over some less than worthy designs, but
if the final plan strongly resembles this design, it's been
well worth the wait.
Cuozzo in today's (9/8) NY Post slammed the naysayers who -
for their own self-interested reasons - said Larry couldn't
rent 7WTC. Larry's been doing just fine renting 7 WTC, and has
hung a classy banner across the front of 7WTC praising his new
tenants for their vision and patronage. Smart guy, that Larry.
I responded with a letter to the Post, published if not there,
somewhere else at this site.
in preparation for this Monday's 5th Anniversary events, the
streets surrounding WTC are humming with tourists, TV trucks,
and miscellaneous goings-on. The "Tribute NYC" space
at 120 Liberty Street opened this past Wednesday (9/6) with
attending dignitaries and publicity. The space will be a holding
museum until the final Memorial is built across Liberty Street.
I will wait until the September tourism crowds thin before venturing
over; the exhibition, which includes personal items and remembrances
from that day five years back, needs time. I don't know the
details, but there's been some news that they may offer limited,
small-group visits into the WTC site itself. That would be a
"Tribute in Light", the two ghostly, piercing rays
of light that are now an integral memorial to the vanished Twin
Towers, has returned. They were tested on Wednesday evening,
a clear night that allowed the beam to ascend into space itself.
If the Towers themselves were a beacon for miles and miles -
scores of miles around - surely these dazzling white beams doubled
that visibility or beyond. You think of travelers way off, and
as they turn towards New York, exclaim "look, they've lit
the beams. That's where the Towers were…."
forming footprint for south tower, on top of parking garage at
entrance to Battery tunnel. Lights have just been put on during
test at dusk (6:30pm). News and camera crew assemble next to
looking east at them from New Jersey Wednesday evening, alongside
rose a lovely pre-harvest yellow-white moon, offering its own
luminous deference to the brilliant Tribute In Light. I recall
now with sadness and fondness a 1999 autumn evening, when I
had a chance to watch a genuine harvest Moon arise behind the
awesome evening skyline, when the Towers were present. I was
among my very closest friends in good times, and another close
friend from England, and we were in Bowers Street Park in the
Jersey City Heights, just soaking in the buildings, the majesty
of the Moon-rise.
Sheppard with vintage Minolta SR-1s camera, circa 1968;
the camera that put Minolta on the map and the official
camera of paperbacknovel.com.
actual spotlights were hard to find! I wandered West Street
looking for them, a WTC guide said they were at "West
& Morris." Morris is a block long street between
21 West Street and the large parking garage that straddles
the entrance-way to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. It runs
east from West Street smack dab into a fence that prevents
you from falling into the B-B Tunnel causeway. I went there,
and it was only the presence of two GE tractor trailers
- generators, that gave away the location of the actual
spotlights: they were on the roof of the parking garage.
There were heavy duty cables snaking from the generator
trucks up the side of the garage to the 7-story roofline.
did some recon, taking the garage elevator to the roof level
and on stepping off, and was told I shouldn't be there. I politely
said I was just being curious, looked around, and left. They
had it set up for some kind of mini-event, tables and such,
looked like some catering. Later, pbn.com's LouV and I went
back over there, took the elevator to the 6th level, got off,
and took the fire stairs to the top level, where we were able
to see the two mini-tower footprint arrays of spotlights, and
snap some pics. We may go back to get night shots on 9/11, if
we can, or right thereafter if we can't do it that day.
forming footprint of North tower.
though my man Larry S. has released the latest (and hopefully
FINAL) building designs, the entire project is operating under
the tentative April 2006 agreements. Larry and the PA are bickering,
over what seems like small sums in the big scheme, but business
being business, and government being government, this is typical.
But at this point five years out, this latest design seems like
a great "start."
a note about the tower crane slowly making its way to the top
of the demised pataki-bloomberg, formerly the Deutsche Bank
building, coming down eventually. The cab is now very close
to the roofline, the boom overtops it. And lo, they have unfurled
a colorful and beautiful American flag on the pataki-bloomberg
building, facing the WTC site, likely in connection with whatever
commemoration is planned for this Monday, 9/11/06. The ironworkers
scramble around that crane, unattached, with little regard for
their altitude or station, it's both awesome and fearsome to
the observer, in this case maybe 150 feet away and equivalently
300+ feet up. Those are the guys that are doing it, reshaping
Lower Manhattan's mighty, and mighty inspirational, skyline.
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