The first tenant has moved into the One World Trade Center, making Monday, November 3, the official opening of the (arguably) tallest building in the Western hemisphere 13 years after the tragedy of 9/11. The “extraordinary moment was passed in the most ordinary of ways,” described the New York Times, as employees of Conde Nast entered into the white marble lobby (taken from the same quarry that produced marble for the original twin towers) and headed straight to the elevators to start their work day.
Recently, ArchDaily editors received an interesting request from an anonymous Communications Director of an unnamed New York firm, asking us “In your reporting, please do not repeat as fact, or as “official,” the opinion that One World Trade Center in New York will be the tallest building in the United States.” He or she goes on to explain that the decision maker who ‘announced’ the building as the tallest in the US, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), is not officially endorsed by the AIA or the US Government, and that while their work is beneficial for architecture and cities as a whole, their criteria for height evaluation are flawed and have been criticized by many in the industry.
The desire to have the tallest building in a city, country or even the world goes back to at least the medieval period, when competing noble families of Italian hill towns such as San Gimignano would try to out-do each other’s best construction efforts (jokes about the Freudian nature of such contests are, I imagine, not much younger). Perhaps the greatest symbol of this desire is the decorative crown of the Chrysler Building, which was developed in secret and enabled the building to briefly take the prize as the world’s tallest, much to the surprise and ire of its competitors at the time.
With this competitive spirit apparently still very much alive, I thought it might be worthwhile to address the issue raised by our anonymous friend.
Today, TIME unveiled “Top of America,” a multimedia site relaying the gripping story of One World Trade, the David Childs-designed skyscraper that stands 1,776-feet tall within Daniel Libeskind‘s masterplan. Beyond providing interesting tidbits of information (did you know that both an 18th century boat and an ice-age formation were found while digging out the building’s foundations?), the article, written by Josh Sanburn, is a fascinating and often deeply moving account — one that gets across the sheer force of will and the extraordinary amount of collaboration it took to raise this building into the atmosphere:
“Nine governors, two mayors, multiple architects, a headstrong developer, thousands of victims’ families and tens of thousands of neighborhood residents fought over this tiny patch of real estate…. Almost 13 years later…. America’s brawny, soaring ambition—the drive that sent pioneers west, launched rockets to the moon and led us to build steel-and-glass towers that pierced the clouds—is intact. Reaching 1,776 ft. has ensured it.”
TIME’s investment into the story was considerable (and, one can speculate, motivated by a desire to rival the fantastic multimedia features of The New York Times). The site is accompanied by a special issue of TIME, a documentary film, an unprecedented 360-degree interactive photograph, and – come April – even a book. Sanburn was not only granted exclusive access to the project for about a year, but photographer Jonathan Woods is the only journalist to have ascended to the skyscraper’s top. Woods, start-up Gigapan, and mechanical engineers worked over eight months to design (on AutoCAD no less) a 13-foot long, rotating jib that could sustain a camera in the harsh conditions at the top of the tower’s 408-ft. spire; over 600 images were then digitally stitched together to create the 360-degree interactive photograph (which you can purchase here. A portion of the proceeds go to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum).
You can explore TIME’s interactive at TIME.com/wtc . Click after the break to watch some incredible videos from the project & read some particularly moving quotes from Sanburn’s article.
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has official ruled Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s One World Trade Center (1WTC) as the tallest building in the United States. The decision comes after a long debate questioned whether or not the tower’s 408 foot spire should count towards its overall height.
As CTBUH explained: “Due to design changes that resulted in the removal of the architectural cladding around the mast at the top of the structure, it became unclear whether the structure was in fact a ‘spire’ – a vertical element that completes the architectural expression of the building and is intended as permanent, or whether it was an antenna – a piece of functional-technical equipment that was subject to change.”
Banksy, the pseudonymous United Kingdom-based graffiti artist who is currently making his rounds in New York City, has proclaimed the One World Trade Center as the city’s “biggest eyesore.” In a brief op-ed piece, Banksy describes the SOM-designed tower as a “shy skyscraper,” one that declares New York’s “glory days” are gone.
“You really need to put up a better building in front of it right away,” stated Banksy. “… because you currently have under construction a one thousand foot tall sign that reads, New York – we lost our nerve.”
Read Bansky’s full op-ed, after the break.
On the twelfth anniversary of September 11th, we would like to share with you this incredible time-lapse capturing the progress of the One World Trade Center between October 2004 and September 2013. The 1,776 foot tall skyscraper, which is expected to be the tallest in Western Hemisphere, topped out earlier this year and is slated for completion in 2014.
Ever expanding population growth coupled with the continuous development of urban centres mean that buildings, in general, will continue to get taller. With the topping out of One World Trade Centre in May this year the worldwide competition to construct towers with soaring altitudes doesn’t seem to be slowing, especially in China and the UAE. The question on many people’s lips, however, is how much of these colossal buildings is actual usable space?
Caution: This video may induce vertigo.
As the final segment of the One World Trade Center was hoisted into position – topping the structure out at a patriotic 1,776 feet – Curbed NY captured its journey via a small Go-Pro camera to reveal its fascinating, and somewhat nauseating, view of Manhattan.
While the US rejoices this monumental feat, a debate amongst architects, engineers and city officials lingers on whether or not the 408-foot spire will count towards the One WTC’s overall height and allow it to officially claim its title as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Although the Port Authority argues that the spire doubled as a radio antenna is considered as non-essential telecom equipment and therefore should not be considered as part of the “architectural top”, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat will make the final call in October.
Check out these new renderings of One World Trade Center from the Port Authority and the Durst Organization. The images were released to illustrate recent design modifications – such as a treatment for the tower’s first 20 stories and the elimination of the casing around the antenna. These fresh thirteen visuals offer a look at the tower from perspectives taken around the boroughs and New Jersey. While these renderings offer a taste of what can be expected, it is great to physical progress being made and how close we are to a completed tower.
More after the break.