Commemorating 9/11 USA

Five years after 11 September, Ground Zero design revealed

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Grand designs: David Childs’ Freedom Tower (far left) will be joined by skyscrapers designed by Lord Norman Foster, Lord Richard Rogers and Fumihiko Maki (left to right)

NEW YORK. Architectural plans for three new skyscrapers at the World Trade Center site have been unveiled. The buildings, by British architect Norman Foster, his compatriot Richard Rogers, and Japanese minimalist Fumihiko Maki, will dramatically transform the Manhattan skyline. The architects were given just four months to design their sleek office towers using Daniel Libeskind’s original masterplan as a guide.

Real estate developer Larry Silverstein, who controls the proposed office buildings, is also developing the Freedom Tower for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In May 2003, Mr Silverstein asked American architect David Childs to design the Freedom Tower, and subsequently invited him to design three of the remaining towers on the quadrant. According to Mr Silverstein, Mr Childs declined the offer insisting that the 16-acre site would be better served by a diversity of architectural styles.

Mr Silverstein named Lord Foster as the architect of 200 Greenwich Street (Tower 2) in December 2005, and in May this year selected Lord Rogers to design 175 Greenwich Street (Tower 3) and Mr Maki for 150 Greenwich Street (Tower 4). Immediately following the selection, Mr Silverstein established a design studio at 7 World Trade Center where architects, engineers and government planners worked to prepare the architectural plans to meet the 7 September 2006 deadline stipulated by Governor George Pataki.

In keeping with Libeskind’s masterplan, the buildings spiral down to the memorial plaza that begins with the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower. Lord Foster’s 78-storey glass and steel skyscraper stands at the northeast corner of the site, rising 1,254 feet with a diamond-shaped summit that tilts toward the memorial garden. Lord Rogers’ slender vertical tower has a soaring exoskeletal framework of 16-storey diagonal bracing that mimics the diamond shapes of Lord Foster’s apex. Mr Maki’s elegant design supports a trapezoid atop a parallelogram, and will house a restaurant and bar with sweeping views of the memorial.

The commitment to build in an environmentally-friendly way at Ground Zero is of critical importance. Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Lord Foster said that environmental concerns were essential to his design, adding that he will avoid using cooling and heating systems during portions of the year when natural ventilation can be used instead.

Dara McQuillen, a spokesman for Silverstein Properties, says: “The three architects chosen by Larry Silverstein are known for designing energy-efficient buildings. Energy costs are much higher abroad and these architects typically work with much stricter guidelines.” The three towers are expected to win a gold rating under the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design programme. Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects, stated: “Ground Zero has the potential to become an environmental city of the future.”

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