Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Night view of redesigned Freedom Tower from Hudson River.
updated 6/29/2005 2:09:28 PM ET 2005-06-29T18:09:28

The proposed Freedom Tower at the former World Trade Center site, redesigned to address security concerns, will lose the distinctive asymmetrical shape envisioned in earlier plans but will be the world’s strongest and safest high-rise building, officials said Wednesday.

The redesigned tower will be straighter and squarer, will rise from a base clad in shimmering metal chosen for beauty and blast-resistance and will be topped with an illuminated spire.

The details are part of a redesign described Wednesday for the soaring skyscraper in lower Manhattan that has been delayed by bureaucratic squabbling.

The new design for the 1,776-foot tower is meant to make it more resistant to truck bombs. The building will now be 90 feet — instead of 25 feet — from West Street, the major north-south thoroughfare along the Hudson River.

Its main roof will be the same height as the fallen World Trade Center twin towers.

“In a subtle but important way, this building recalls ... those buildings that we lost,” lead architect David Childs said at a news conference.

The tower’s cubic base will be clad in luminous materials — probably a combination of stainless steel and titanium — that will be shimmering and light-reflective as well as blast-resistant, according to a description of the redesign by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

Exceeds code requirements
As in the original design, the structure outlined in the latest plan exceeds city fire code requirements, and will have biological and chemical filters in its air supply system.

It also has the original design’s extra-wide emergency stairs, a dedicated staircase just for firefighters, enhanced elevators and “areas of refuge” on each floor. Stairs, communications, sprinklers and elevators will be encased in 3-foot-thick walls.

The tower will be capped with a mast incorporating an antenna, meant to suggest the torch of the Statue of Liberty.

The plan for rebuilding the 16-acre site devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attack retains 2.6 million square feet of office space and an observation deck. Sixty-nine office floors will sit atop a 200-foot-high reinforced base.

Gov. George Pataki laid the tower’s cornerstone on July 4, 2004, but the past year has seen more fighting than progress by the agencies and individuals with roles in the site’s rebuilding.

Officials have said the concerns have probably delayed the tower’s original 2009 ribbon-cutting, and the revised plan now calls for it to be ready for occupancy in 2010.

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