By Karen Matthews Associated Press
One World Trade Center with its symbolically freighted 1,776-foot spire is the marquee skyscraper at downtown Manhattan’s ground zero, but the first office tower to officially open there will be its shorter neighbor, 4 World Trade Center.
Officials are planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony next Wednesday for 4 World Trade, an elegant 978-foot building, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki.
“We want people to come and experience this both as a great office building but also a sense of accomplishment that we’ve really turned the corner on rebuilding the World Trade Center and creating a better New York,” said Janno Lieber, head of World Trade Center construction for developer Larry Silverstein.
The ribbon-cutting for 4 World Trade doesn’t mean people will be working in its offices any time soon.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site and lost its headquarters when the twin towers were destroyed in the 2001 terrorist attacks, is leasing 600,000 square-feet in 4 World Trade but doesn’t expect to move in until early 2015. The agency can now start building out its office space.
The beginning of 2015 is also the target date for opening the trade center’s Santiago Calatrava-designed transportation hub, as well as the shops and restaurants that will occupy the lower floors of 4 World Trade.
Four World Trade sits on the 16-acre trade center site’s southeast corner across from the September 11 memorial’s south reflecting pool.
The building is a parallelogram up to the top third, where it narrows to a smaller trapezoid.
Osamu Sassa, the project architect, said the angles evoke the twisting shapes in Daniel Libeskind’s master plan for the site.
“One of the things we really tried to do was just to create this really clean, reflective, abstract form,” Sassa said.
He said the building’s facade of 13 1/2-by-5-foot glass plates is so reflective that the tower will “appear to disappear” on blue-sky days.
“It has a very ephemeral presence,” he said. “Other times it’ll be much more distinct.”
The panoramic views from inside the tower are spectacular, as are the views from One World Trade, formerly known as the Freedom Tower.
The official opening of One World Trade at the northwest corner of the site will be some time next year.