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Securing Liberty
World Trade Center site below Liberty Street takes shape.
The Vehicle Security Center's Liberty Street entrance provides access for large trucks.
Courtesy Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

As the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches, another major design element has quietly moved forward at the World Trade Center site: the design of the St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church and an above grade park that will mask the Vehicle Security Center (VSC) at the southernmost edge of the site.

Most World Trade Center maps don’t include the VSC or the Greek Orthodox Church, which will sit south of Liberty Street. It was less than a year ago that the Governor Andrew Cuomo brokered an agreement that allowed the church to return to the site near its former home on Cedar Street. A decade-long battle with the Port had kept its fate in the courts.

The doughnut-like steel latticework adjoins the VSC entryway on Liberty Street.
TS & BK / The Architect's Newspaper

Now, the steel latticework of the VSC’s truck ramp is clearly visible from nearby towers. In addition to being the entrance and exit for deliveries, the center of the doughnut-shaped ramp will also support the 60 by 60 foot church sanctuary. Steve Plate, the Port’s director of construction, said work on the park will begin this time next year. AECOM is designing an open space that will swell approximately 30 feet above the Liberty Street entrance to the VSC, creating a man-made hill on the south side of the World Trade Center site. State of the art security, engineered by Liberty Security Partners, will allow all vehicles to be x-rayed on their way in.

The church sanctuary will rise another 56 feet above Liberty Street, a full 78 feet above the sidewalk. Church architect Nicholas P. Koutsomitis said that the Port stipulated that the church not rise above the September 11 Memorial Museum’s roof plane. An additional emergency exit will drop Cedar Street below grade and into the VSC complex.

Fritz Koenig’s Sphere for Plaza Fountain, which sustained substantial damage on 9/11 and now sits in Battery Park, appears destined for the VSC site as well. It appears prominently in the renderings, and Koutsomitis confirmed that the sculpture will be included in the new park.

Tom Stoelker


View of the rooftop plaza from West Street shows St. Nicholas Church in the distance with Fritz Koenig's sculpture.