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04.02.2008
WTC Moves Forward
Foundation work begins on towers 2,3, and 4
The bathtub for towers 3 and 4 is ready for foundation work to begin. Steel erection on the Freedom Tower should breach street level sometime in May.
Joe Woolhead

At the March 12 luncheon for the New York Buildings Council, a trade group supporting the local construction industry, Larry Silverstein, president and CEO of Silverstein Properties, and Anthony Shorris, executive director of the Port Authority of NY & NJ, outlined the latest construction schedule for the World Trade Center site. According to their projections, complete site work—including the cores and shells of towers 1 through 4, the Calatrava-designed transit center, and the memorial—will be ready for tenant build-out by 2012.

After nearly seven years of contested designs, political wrangling, and financial uncertainties, the four-year schedule announced today sounded overly optimistic to many, especially considering the recent downturn in the economy and the continuing inflation of construction prices. But Silverstein assured the room of construction and real estate executives that the timeline is feasible and that funding for the project is in place. As evidence, he pointed to last year’s settlement with his insurers, which resulted in a total payout of $4.2 billion, and to the $2.6 billion in Liberty Bonds that have been assigned to reconstruction efforts. All told, said Silverstein, public and private expenditures on the site will total $20 billion in the next four years.

Shorris spoke more directly to concerns over the rise in construction prices. “We were relatively lucky with our market timing at the Freedom Tower,” he said, “but inflation is a constant source of pressure. Adjustments have been made in the design, but they haven’t affected the major elements. We just hope that our rate of getting smarter will exceed the rate of inflation.” 

According to Silverstein, at the time of his update workers were test-blasting at the sites of towers 2, 3, and 4, and erecting two cranes for foundation work. By the end of the month, foundation work for each of those towers should be well underway. Within a year, the buildings should reach street level. The Richard Rogers-designed tower 3 and Fumihiko Maki-designed tower 4 are expected to top out in mid 2010, and the Lord Norman Foster-designed tower 2—the tallest of these three at 1,278 feet—is expected to follow in 2011. Steel erection has already reached 70 feet up on the Freedom Tower (tower 1), and should reach street level in two months. Tishman Construction, who is building the Freedom Tower, is completing the work at towers 3 and 4, and Turner Construction holds the contract on tower 2.

The luncheon took place just hours after Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned his post as a result of implication in a prostitution ring. When asked what he would say to incoming Governor David Paterson, Silverstein responded, “All agreements have been signed, all decisions have been made. Now it’s time to get on with it.”

While work ramped up on towers 1 through 4, plans for tower 5 fizzled. On March 19, JP Morgan Chase announced that it would not build a headquarters on the current site of the derelict Deutsche Bank Building, but instead would move into Bear Stearns’ building on Park Avenue. 

AARON SEWARD


At the Freedom Tower, steel has reached 70 feet high and will breach street level in two months. JOE WOOLHEAD


The current World Trade Center site plan. COURTESY FOSTER + PARTNERS

Aaron Seward