Earlier this week, AN went up to the 67th floor of the recently-opened 4 World Trade Center to get a progress report on the 16-acre redevelopment taking shape below. Inside the wide-open and raw space, Larry Silverstein, the site’s developer, told reporters that his vision for a new World Trade Center had finally become a reality. “I’ve gotten a bit of a reputation as a wild-eyed optimist,” he said in front of a wall of windows. “But even I have to admit that I didn’t see all this coming.” Noting that it had been 13 years since the attacks, he went on to refer to the anniversary as the site’s “bar mitzvah.”
Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?
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.
The Sports Minister for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Hakubum Shimomura, is set to scale back the approved stadium, designed by Iraqi-born architect, Zaha Hadid. The decision was made in the wake of a big uproar from some leading Japanese architects who claim that the stadium is “too big and too expensive.” The Minister did not give specifics on how the structure would be scaled down, but stressed that the original design concept would be maintained.
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.
It wasn’t a usual trip to the World Trade Center site today as AN segued over to the river to get a glimpse of the Space Shuttle Enterprise’s flyover. We caught the shuttle on its second loop at 10:55 on the dot. The pristine prototype shuttle skimmed south over New Jersey on its way round the Statue of Liberty. In all, a very uplifting day when combined with news that the One World Trade will likely surpass the Empire State Building as the city’s tallest building by this Monday. Come summer the shuttle will make a barge trip up the river to its new home at the Intrepid Museum. No news yet on speculation that new building across the street from the museum might house the shuttle.
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.
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.