Yesterday, something remarkable happened. More than a decade after the destruction of the World Trade Center, the walls and fences surrounding a small corner of the site came down and the public was able to glimpse a new stretch of Greenwich Street—which will eventually bisect the site—as well as Fumihiko Maki‘s completed 72-story tower, Four World Trade. The minimalist tower is the first completed building on the site, though tenants will now begin building out their floors.
Compared to its neighbors, the Fuhimiko Maki-designed Four World Trade offers a more somber, reflective aesthetic at the World Trade Center site. Reflective quite literally, as the tower’s curtain wall mullions nearly disappear at street level. Inside the 977-foot-tall building, Maki’s stunningly-precise detailing is made evident, along with the breathtaking views of the surrounding New York region.
After climbing to death-defying heights yesterday at One World Trade yesterday, AN stopped by Tower Four’s construction floor 51 (or what will eventually be renamed the 60th floor when the building opens). While the interior office spaces are still shells, the clarity of Maki’s trapezoidal form shows through. Project Architect Osamu Sassa said columns at the tower’s perimeter—four on each side—were pushed to the edge, providing 80-foot spans of uninterrupted floor-to-ceiling glass. Column-free corners, many forming acute angles that proved to be a challenge in designing the curtain wall, make the views even more brilliant. Take a look for yourself in the slideshow below.
At a panel discussion on architecture journalism held at the Center for Architecture last month, the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo griped that The New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman had yet to weigh in on the 9/11 Memorial. Indeed, even the Times‘s go-to architecture reporter Robin Pogrebin had to concur. She noted that she too had raised the question. Nevertheless, World Trade Center reporting—let alone criticism—can be a full time job. Although Pogrebin continues to report on the cultural venues slated for the site, the architectural aspects of the project have been the province of David Dunlap from the get-go.
With the topping of Four World Trade today at 977 feet, Dunlap once again provides a highly detailed report, as he did two weeks ago in his analysis of the grossly altered designs of One World Trade. Standing in the shadow of One World Trade, Dunlap notes that architects Fumihiko Maki and Osamu Sassa have no problem with his building being labeled “the biggest skyscraper New Yorkers have never heard of.” “Subtlety extends one’s appreciation,” Sassa told the Times. Kimmelman, meanwhile, has made a trip to the area, but to review a glass canopy, “in the shadow of One World Trade Center no less.”
It’s been several weeks since our last visit to the World Trade Center site. On our return today we were taken with the manner in which different architects handle ventilation at the site. The most obvious example are the two large vent structures that protrude from the west side of the Memorial Plaza. The concrete buildings are a necessary solution to a complicated infrastructure problem. Davis Brody Bond (now Aedas) designed a mesh mask for the concrete structures and workers were putting the finishing touches on south building today.
One World Trade has had a good week. Condé Nast officially signed on the dotted line yesterday. Several of the interested parties from the Port Authority to Cushman Wakefield took out two full page ads in The New York Times congratulating themselves on a job well done. But back at the site, something slightly less tangible occurred. It’s purely subjective of course, but over the last week it seems that One World Trade finally reached the “wow” factor. There’s no getting around it anymore, the building is huge. Of course, throughout the site there’s plenty more to see…
Fumihiko Maki was named AIA’s 2011 Gold Medal winner last Thursday, making him the 67th in that illustrious line. Maki began his career in the 1960s as a part of the group of Japanese architects known as the Metabolists who championed large biomorphic structures that could expand and change as needed. His more recent designs, such as the new Media Lab at MIT, present a decidedly fixed composition, though MIT retains the suggestion of interchangeable volumes. The concept did find its way into Maki’s thoroughly adaptable interior, as was noted during a walk-through by AN last spring.