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Wall Street Journal
5/17/06

Triplet Towers; Three Architects Conjure Up Three New Skyscrapers for Trade Center

THREE ARCHITECTS. Three skyscrapers. Four months. And one war room.

That's the recipe World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein is using to cook up a dynamic trio of skyscrapers by Sept. 20, the deadline he and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have set for signing a definitive rebuilding plan for the office and retail space at Ground Zero.

The 74-year-old mogul selected three world-class but far-flung architects -- Richard Rogers and Norman Foster from London, and Fumihiko Maki from Tokyo -- to design three skyscrapers that will line Greenwich Street. This week Mr. Silverstein closeted their top people in a makeshift design studio on the 25th floor of 7 World Trade Center, overlooking Ground Zero. With a view of famous downtown skyscrapers and the trade center's dusty pit as inspiration, the architects have two formidable tasks: invent inspiring forms for the towers and resolve design dilemmas that have bedeviled the project. Arriving alongside the architects any day now will be two representatives from the Port Authority, which owns the site and whose board must approve the plans before the agreement with Mr. Silverstein becomes official.

Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority came to a tentative agreement over his role in the project after months of delay and finger- pointing. But the pending pact hinges on time and design. The plan envisions that two of Mr. Silverstein's three towers will be under construction by mid-2007 and all three finished by 2012. A key sticking point: whether Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority can agree on how to divvy up the tightly packed space among offices, stores and a warren of underground passageways, truck tunnels, bus parking and electrical utility lines.

Mr. Silverstein has wanted three architects even before the time squeeze; he has said he prefers the diversity of three visions. The old World Trade Center, derided by critics, were the singular vision of one architect, Minoru Yamasaki.

Each architect will create a concept for one of the three towers that will line the east side of Greenwich Street, currently a long strip of concrete dotted with weeds that runs through the middle of the site. Two more architecture firms will provide back up: Adamson Associates of Toronto will produce the actual blueprints; RTKL Associates of Baltimore, is a consultant on retail issues.

Messrs. Foster, Maki, and Rogers are all considered at the top of their architectural games. They won't literally be working side by side in the war room, but their top design partners will. They include Mike Davies, Richard Rogers's New York representative, who stands out in the mostly suit-and-tie crowd. He sports a ponytail behind his balding pate and a long bushy beard and wears red pants with a red shirt and a red tie -- a daily ensemble, colleagues say. ("I like red. That's the simplest answer," he explains, a red folder in hand).

Each firm also has an unmistakable style. The best works of Foster and Partners are powerful and innovative, like the Swiss Re headquarters in London -- nicknamed the "gherkin" for its rounded shape -- or the zig-zag facade of Hearst Corp.'s New York headquarters. Maki and Associates' style is elegant and minimalist, like the repeating geometric shapes that rise up Mr. Maki's Yokohama I-land tower. Richard Rogers and Partners' work is eclectic, but decidedly modern. His best-known works include the Millennium Dome in London and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, which he designed with Renzo Piano.

The firms sound jazzed about the collaboration. Most large scale architectural projects are shared, Mr. Davies says, including Berlin's Potsdamer Platz. And unlike collaborations gone awry, such as that between Daniel Libeskind and David Childs over the Freedom Tower, each architect here gets his own building. "We'll be absolutely open. We'll be alongside each other and ... the strongest synergies will flow," Mr. Davies says. "So you shouldn't get into a conflicting situation, but an opportunity situation."

The final say on design goes to Mr. Silverstein, as the towers' private developer. Also weighing in will be officials at the Port Authority, which also owns the retail space, including some inside Mr. Silverstein's buildings.

Since the rebuilding plans were unveiled in 2002, Ground Zero has been a den of architectural disputes. Two inspiring design competitions for a site master plan and memorial to the victims have been followed with years of acrimony among designers, developers and government officials. The memorial plans have gone back to the drawing board due to runaway costs.

Mr. Silverstein hopes putting the architects in a virtual pressure cooker will create a happier outcome. "We don't have the luxury of architectural disputes anymore," says Janno Lieber, Mr. Silverstein's World Trade Center project director. "It's an incredible undertaking not accomplishable unless everyone is in one room and working under one design process."

Besides the office towers and retail space, the site plan includes a fourth tower tentatively slated for residential development plus the Freedom Tower; a memorial; a transit hub; a performing arts center and possibly a hotel. A small Greek Orthodox church destroyed in the attacks also will be rebuilt.

Mr. Silverstein has struggled to find tenants for his building at 7 World Trade Center, which is set to open next week with just 71/2 of 42 rentable floors occupied. Under the tentative rebuilding agreement, Mr. Silverstein is no longer responsible for filling the Freedom Tower, which has been ceded to the Port Authority. He does have to fill the three office towers, though, comprising 6.2 million square feet. The Port Authority and New York City government already have agreed to take 1.2 million of the space.

If Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority can't agree on how to configure the office towers and the retail space, the deal could implode. The Port Authority plans to sell the right to own and operate the shops for several hundred million dollars and wants to maximize their value by putting retail space in the three towers' prime street- level areas. Mr. Silverstein could decide to submit a bid for the retail space. Meanwhile, he has to worry about luring businesses to the towers' upper floors by way of spacious, street-level lobbies, alongside the shopping space.

It is up to the architects to find a solution that makes everyone happy. Mr. Libeskind's trade-center master plan and draft design- guidelines, which dictate the size and placement of the buildings, call for the densely packed towers to get taller as they approach the signature Freedom Tower, on the site's northwest corner. The Freedom Tower is set to be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at a symbolic 1,776 feet. Mr. Foster's Tower 2 will rise somewhere from 1,300 feet to 1,450 feet; Mr. Rogers's Tower 3 from 1,250 to 1,350 feet; and Mr. Maki's Tower 4 from 1,200 feet to 1,300 feet. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, were 1,362 and 1,368 feet tall.


It is too soon to tell what the towers will look like. The architects were filled with optimism that they will create a coherent ensemble rather than an architectural mishmash. "We are building in a very tight fabric," says Maki associate Gary Kamemoto. "These towers have to be respectful to each other."

Early Monday morning, the architects and their helpers were unpacking computers and placing them on desks. Their first job was to create a functioning architectural production space and command center for a staff of 35.

The architects crowded around two long wood tables pushed together near the windows overlooking the towers' site. Outside, great skyscrapers of the past, including Cass Gilbert's Woolworth Building, once the world's tallest, dotted the view. Printouts of the trade center site plan sprawled atop the tables.

The architects leaned over the plans and gabbed about how to get started. A topic of basic concern: What is the best way to convert centimeters to inches? The architects live in the metric system, but the U.S. construction industry is still a business of inches.

Mr. Foster, who has been working on his tower since the winter, has a conceptual model -- normally a closely guarded secret. But Messrs. Maki and Rogers need copies of it so they can take it into account when designing their own towers. "We want exactly what Foster has in his office," demanded Mickey Kupperman, who is refereeing the process for Mr. Silverstein. "We need one here, one in Tokyo and two in London."

Should they make the models in New York and then ship them around the world? "Crazy," someone chimed in. The solution: Have the drawings and photos sent overseas, and the models glued locally.

At one point, he silenced the room. "Time Out. We have an important administrative announcement." Yvette Wright, a Silverstein building manager, asked participants if they want 12- or 24-hour access. Everyone signed up for 24.
 
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This plan could actually be better than simply having the same twin towers rebuilt.

I thought about this plan and can only hope that more than 2 tall towers, with each having a different look and different height might not make them potential targets, as the bold and striking Twin Towers were.

So in fact, our skyline might not look as it once did, however, it will certainly look more natural.

During the design competition a few years ago, there was an entry where the buildings were all tall (with one tower being the tallest) and they all just blended in (that was the one I wanted) - who else remembers that particular design?

The tall one in the center resembled the American International (but taller of course).
 

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I can't wait to see the finished product. We may never see the twins again, but I still have a good feeling about it all this time around...

I did say once that it will correct itself. When the design is right, its just right and trust me, everyone will agree with the small stuff... When its wrong, something somehow will stop it in its tracks

this is proof...
 
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^^ The design was a few years back and it looked nothing like the renderings of today.

If you look at Wall Street as an example of the architecture style, then you might recall that particular design I am referring to.

By the way, the current design looks absolutely great and it's along the similar idea, which I fully support.

Again, if you look at the Wall Street area and use it as a reference, you get the idea and that is basically what appears to be planned for the WTC site.

If they decide to carve the superblock, it will then mimick Wall Street, being narrow corridors of tall skyscrapers.

This is the idea.

While some people wish to preserve the old WTC superblock, we must move forward and show the world that we are a New York that is not afraid to make changes.

Who else in this group agrees with me that the Wall Street corridor was very well balanced?

Who else agrees with me that the superblock, being carved up to resemble Wall St. would be a better plan?

Keep in mind that I originally wanted the Twin Towers rebuilt - but I don't want New York to be a potential target for such a bold idea.

We can have supertalls, we just have to do it right. :eek:kay:
 

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As of right now, none of those buildings have a final design, then again, neither does the FT.
 

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TalB said:
As of right now, none of those buildings have a final design, then again, neither does the FT.




Of course the other towers don't have a final design yet, because design work on them have not started yet. The Freedom Tower, for the umteenth time, DOES have a final design. Otherwise, how is it being built without one?
What part of this are you not getting?

BWA.... Haha, haha........Cough, cough....... I can't breathe. I need some water from lauging so hard!.......(Daquan13 laughing and stomping on floor).

You think? Did you hear that from the officials already? This is what I've been trying to say to you. If it didn't come from the officials, then it's probably just a shot in the dark or hearsay. :sleepy:
 

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Can you explain why the complex continues to show translucent renderings?
 

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These are just assumptions of the other towers made by members here and over at SSP. They are showing possible renderings of what they think the structures might look like.

Even thougth we hear that the other towers will be taller now, no one knows for sure what they will actually look like until the architects unveil their designs for the buildings.

While on the other hand, the Freedom Tower, as we've all read, is the final design, even though there are no renderings of what the tower will look like inside.
 

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That's not a surprise, b/c this new Wuss Trade Center was ever able to attract any tennants on the main site since it was picked.
 

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holy shit four towers 1,300ft, f**k, nyc skyline will look terrible and jammed in, not to mention that god dam horrible freedom tower. dam ill be saying is that the new york skyline or is this another city
 

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Were the original slanted roof towers that surround the FT just placeholders? Will that design continue with these new architects or is something else totally new going to take place?
 

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Yes. The architects will more than likely unveil towers that look quite different from the placeholders.

Right now those towers are just there to "fill the void" until we all know for sure what will go there.
 

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This is why I'm a huge fan of Silverstein. I don't understand the hate he receives. Erecting 7 World Trade Centre, taller than before, even with all the bureaucratic bullshit was no easy task. Now he has the vision to construct three supertalls.

In the near future, Manhattan is expected to have a office-space shortage. Even though lessees may avoid the new WTC buildings at first, the fact remains that this site will be one of the few locations in New York where a large company could lease a million or so continuous square feet. A risk-adverse developer would never even touch the site.

Regardless, I'm glad to see progress is finally being made. Without Silverstein in the process, I'd doubt we'd have 7 World Trade standing today.
 

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hydrogen said:
Mr. Foster's Tower 2 will rise somewhere from 1,300 feet to 1,450 feet; Mr. Rogers's Tower 3 from 1,250 to 1,350 feet; and Mr. Maki's Tower 4 from 1,200 feet to 1,300 feet. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, were 1,362 and 1,368 feet tall.
It is too soon to tell what the towers will look like.
Forgive me if I missed something, but do we know if these new towers' proposed heights are with or without spires? I mean, the way I read this, all three new towers could possibly be 1200 to 1450 feet to roof level without spires, which could mean that the roof height of tower 2 could be taller than the roof height of the Freedom tower... Am I wrong? Do we have any clarification on this?
 
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