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New Trade Center tower design unveiled

After months of debating the size and shape of the tower that will rise at the World Trade Center site, two world-renowned architects on Friday announced a compromise design for what could be the world’s tallest building.
This is an artist's rendering of a night view of the revised Freedom Tower design as seen from the south.
This is an artist's rendering of a night view of the revised Freedom Tower design as seen from the south.Lower Manhattan Development Corp. via AP
/ Source: staff and news service reports

After two world-renowned architects spent months debating the size and shape of the tower that will rise at the World Trade Center site, a compromise design was announced Friday for what could be the world’s tallest building -- and one that incorporates safety features like separate staircases for firefighters and “blast-resistant glaze” on the lobby glass.

Negotiations had been contentious between Daniel Libeskind and David Childs, but the two were able to meet a deadline set by Gov. George Pataki and the results were unveiled Friday.

"Creative minds have different thoughts … that’s what makes great architecture, Childs told NBC's "Today" show Friday when asked about the differences in an interview ahead of the formal announcement.

'Soaring tribute'
Called the Freedom Tower, the structure will be a "soaring tribute" to the fallen heroes of Sept. 11, 2001, and to freedom, Pataki told "Today".

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which oversees the rebuilding, says the tower will rise 1,776 feet, culminating in a spire and evoking the Statue of Liberty. Liebskin told "Today" that the height, 1,776 feet, reflects "a date that speaks to the whole world" -- America's year of independence.

To that degree, the revised plan follows the original, asymmetrical structure proposed by Libeskind, who was originally tapped as the architect to remake ground zero.

Libeskind described the spire at the top emitting a light into the sky at night, as one that would provide “a beacon of light and hope in a world that is often dark.”

Wind turbines added
But Childs succeeded in including a lattice structure filled with energy-generating windmills at the top of the building and suspension cables resembling the Brooklyn Bridge. Childs was appointed lead architect of the project by leaseholder Larry Silverstein.

The tower will be "not only beautiful but an opportunity" to make statement about the environment, Childs told "Today".

The cable suspension structure would create an open area above the building’s 70 floors of office space, and house the wind turbines, which could provide 20 percent of the building’s energy.

Libeskind, who created the Jewish Museum in Berlin but has little experience with major commercial projects, has likened the relationship with Childs, who designed the new Time Warner building in Manhattan, to a “forced marriage.”

Political motive?
Richard Meier, an architect who was a finalist for the trade center design competition won by Libeskind, questioned the timetable set by the governor, who wants construction on the tower to begin next summer before the national Republican convention begins.

“We’re not just talking about a building here; we’re talking about a large area of the city that’s being developed and there’s a relationship between this new building and everything else that’s going on,” Meier said. “If the rest of this site is developed this way, it’s going to be chaotic.”

The building is to be put up on the northwest part off the World Trade Center site, not on the footprint of the vanished towers.

The tower would include 70 stories of office space and a 276-foot spire and would be topped by broadcast antennas. The 71st and 72nd levels would contain restaurants and the 73rd level would be a viewing floor.

The building regarded as the world’s highest today is the Taipei 101 office block in Taiwan, at 1,667 feet. Malaysia’s Petronas Twin Towers are 1,483 feet tall. The 110-story World Trade Center towers were 1,350 feet tall.

$12 billion price tagSilverstein has put the cost of the entire redevelopment project at up to $12 billion over 10 years. Previous estimates had put the cost at between $4 billion and $7 billion. The tower itself could cost $1.5 billion.

Silverstein expects $7 billion to come from insurance proceeds -- an amount that is the subject of a bitter lawsuit between the leaseholder and insurance companies. He has said $5 billion would come from government sources.

A cornerstone would be laid on the “Freedom Tower” by Sept. 11, 2004, and it would be finished by the end of 2008 or the beginning of 2009, he said.

Pataki, who has final authority over the land owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has set 2015 as the completion date of the project. It will include a memorial to the 2,752 victims, a transportation hub, commercial and residential space, a museum and other cultural facilities.

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