For Two World Trade Center, Bjarke Ingels has created a tower with multiple personalities. From the 9/11 Memorial, the building, with its seamless glass facade, appears like a somber glass giant huddled around the hallowed site with its peers. But from pretty much anywhere else, the building is quite expressive with a stepped massing scheme that appears like a stack of boxes, a ziggurat sliced in half, or a staircase for King King. To give New Yorkers a better sense of how the 1,340-foot-tall building will impact the city's skyline when it opens in 2020, the New York Times has created a nifty visualization that shows the tower's virtual appearance from Brooklyn Bridge Park, Staten Island, Flushing, Queens, the Bronx Zoo, and Hoboken. Brownstoner reported that Ingels and New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman unveiled the visualization at the Times' Cities for Tomorrow Conference on Monday. For more on the tower's design, check out our Q+A with Ingels from the day he unveiled his design.
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The biggest architecture news this week was obviously the unveiling of Bjarke Ingels' design for Two World Trade Center. The dramatic departure from Norman Foster's original proposal envisions the tower as a series of stepped volumes that gesture toward One World Trade. But does the step-ladder design—easily climbable by giant monsters like King Kong—pose a safety risk for New Yorkers? One petitioner is pleading with Ingels to change the design. Shortly after the scheme was unveiled, AN sat down with Ingels to discuss the project, Foster's previous design, and the World Trade Center redevelopment thus far. We failed to ask the architect if the new building would just be "a staircase for monsters" as concerned citizen Caragh Poh puts it in her Change.org petition that urges Ingels to reconsider his supposedly monster-friendly design. "Though you have designed this building with wonderful reasons in mind, such as completing the framing of the memorial, bringing an even more enhanced skyline to the beautiful city of New York, creating a physical symbol of healing and togetherness, there is one glaring oversight," she wrote. "Your building makes it easier for King Kong to climb." Poh readily admits that she does not have the solution, but suggests turning the building upside down might do the trick. But maybe Bjarke Ingels doesn't want a solution—could this have been all part of his plan? Hear us out: Back in 2011, Bjarke dressed up as King Kong for halloween with BIG's Daniel Kidd going as the Empire State Building—and there's photographic evidence. With this eery reality now staring us in the face, we decided to reach out to BIG to see if Two World Trade Center was, indeed, tailor-made to be a staircase for King Kong. We're waiting to hear back. As of press time, 30 concerned people had signed the petition. You can view the petition and sign for yourself here.
In late 2005, Norman Foster unveiled his design for Two World Trade Center—an 88-story tower capped in four diamonds to direct the eye down toward the 9/11 Memorial, which, at the time, was still years from completion. Then, the World Trade Center site was still in the design phase, and Bjarke Ingels was a little-known architect from Denmark. But in the decade since, Ingels' rise has been nothing short of meteoric. Now, Wired has the story that proves what has been reported for months: the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will replace Foster + Partners at Two World Trade Center, the second-tallest of the cluster of towers in Lower Manhattan. The 1,340-foot-tall skyscraper is being developed by Silverstein Properties and will serve as the joint headquarters for Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and 21st Century Fox. If BIG’s building does, in fact, rise, then the final tower at the 16-acre site will have been designed by a firm that did not even exist when rebuilding began. With BIG’s growing portfolio of push-the-envelope architecture, the easy assumption for Two World Trade was that the building would step into the complicated—and politically fraught—site and loosen its buttoned-up, corporate aesthetic. If the redesigned tower accomplishes that, then it certainly does so gently. From the memorial, the 80-story tower takes cues from its neighbors, Three World Trade and Four World Trade, with an uninterrupted glass curtain wall. (Santiago Calatrava’s soaring Transportation Hub creates a brief stylistic rift along the crystalline campus.) But from every other vantage point, the tower appears like a staircase—or a classic mid-20th century Manhattan ziggurat-style building. The structure's massing appears as a series of seven, 12-story boxes that climb upward, stepping toward SOM's One World Trade next door. “On one hand it’s about being respectful and about completing the frame around the memorial, and on the other hand it’s about revitalizing downtown Manhattan and making it a lively place to live and work,” Ingels told Wired. "From Tribeca, the home of lofts and roof gardens, [Two World Trade] will appear like a vertical village of singular buildings stacked on top of each other to create parks and plazas in the sky," Ingels said in a statement. "From the World Trade Center, the individual towers will appear unified, completing the colonnade of towers framing the 9/11 Memorial.” BIG's involvement with the project came about after James Murdoch, Rupert’s 42-year-old son and a 21st Century Fox executive, reportedly expressed concerns over Foster’s design. James Murdoch was looking to create a more open-plan work environment. And BIG has experience doing just that—the firm recently presented designs with Heatherwick Studio for a sprawling Google headquarters complex comprising a series of glass canopies. At the World Trade Center site, BIG's main assignment was to take the spirit of a Silicon Valley, open-air campus and squeeze it into a Manhattan skyscraper. On a practical level, that's no easy assignment. But through generous setbacks, the building offers space for heavily planted gardens that at least serve as a nod toward the corporate campuses on the West Coast. Or so it would seem; Wired reported that the gardens are “supposed to evoke varying climates, from tropical to arctic.” But this is New York, not California, so by December all the gardens might lean toward the latter. Underneath these gardens, on the tower's cantilever reveals, are digital news tickers that will display headlines from the news giant operating inside. https://vimeo.com/130120622 Among the other challenges for BIG in redesigning Two World Trade was working within existing realities of the World Trade Center site—and a foundation structure that had already begun construction. The tower’s foundation is already set according to Foster's plan and includes air vents from the neighboring transportation hub. The new tower is also aligned along the axis laid out in Daniel Libeskind's master plan. When it came time to sell BIG's new design to the developer and client, Silverstein and Murdoch were initially skeptical. “I hadn’t seen a building like this beforehand, I hadn’t considered a building like this before, and certainly there was nothing down at the Trade Center to indicate that this would be a trend for tomorrow,” developer Larry Silverstein told Wired. Rupert Murdoch apparently agreed, but after the philosophy of the building was explained—and Ingels is a talented storyteller—Silverstein and Murdoch were on board. The architects behind the World Trade Center’s other three towers—David Childs, Richard Rogers, and Fumihiko Maki—all gave their blessing as well. News Corp. and 21st Century Fox recently signed a non-binding letter of intent to build Two World Trade, which brings the project closer to reality. And if all goes according to plan, Murdoch’s media empire should be setting up shop in Lower Manhattan as soon as 2020.
With the recent opening of One World Trade Center, the folks over at EarthCam have reshared their 2013 timelapse of the tower's 1,776 foot rise. There's not too much else to say about the video, other than that it sure makes the building's very long and arduous climb seem pretty quick and easy. It's also set to some very Game of Thrones-y music, so it has that going for it too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nn11DWH_LEA You can check out the video above to see One World Trade, and some other pieces of the World Trade Center site (hello, Four World Trade!), take shape over what has been a very fraught time frame. And, hey, maybe in another year or so, we'll be back here watching a timelapse of Calatrava's Transportation Hub. And after that, how about the rise of (maybe) Bjarke Ingels' 2 World Trade Center?
After all these years (read: delays), the public will finally be able to check out the grand oculus in Santiago Calatrava's $3.9 billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub—starting next month. The New York Times reported that beginning in June, a north-south passageway with direct views onto the building's main attraction will open to "limited pedestrian traffic." The entire building won't fully open until the end of this year, or early next year so don't get too excited. And you can always walk through an already open portion of the Calatrava station connecting to the Brookfield Place towers. The Times also noted that the World Trade Center redevelopment is set to check off milestone after milestone over the next few weeks and months. —The second of four PATH platforms in the Transportation Hub will open on Thursday. —Soon after that, a floor-to-ceiling barrier will come down as well. This will allow commuters to marvel at the immaculate space set beneath those already-iconic soaring white ribs, or wings, or spikes, or whatever you want to call them. —And on May 29th, the One World Trade Center Observatory will open, offering panoramic views to anyone willing to shell out $32 a ticket. As for 2 World Trade Center, well, we're still waiting to hear if Norman Foster's design will be replaced with something from Bjarke Ingels.
A few weeks ago AN noted that the Norman Foster–designed 2 World Trade Center might finally rise after all these years. The New York Times was reporting that Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation and 21st Century Fox were in talks to lease half the building for a joint headquarters. If it were to happen, wrote the Times, Murdoch's team might bring in a new architect to update Foster's design. Now it's looking like that is exactly what's going to happen—and it's going to happen in an, ahem, BIG way. The Wall Street Journal is now reporting that the media companies, along with developer Larry Silverstein, have tapped Bjarke Ingels to redesign the building. Given BIG's reputation for twisting, torquing, pyramidal forms, it's safe to say that the new design will be far from Foster's diamond-topped glass tower. But, at this point, all we know is that the building is expected to retain the size and height of the original plan—roughly three million square feet and 1,270 feet tall. The foundation, after all, has already been built, so any new tower would rise from the same footprint. "The planned 2 World Trade Center tower would have plenty of room, as the companies would occupy about half of the building," reported the Journal. "But the existing design was deemed problematic because it wasn’t considered ideal for studio space at the base—it was designed with bank-trading floors in mind—and because of the amount of infrastructure on the ground-level related to the PATH train station at the site, the [people familiar with the design] said." If financing is secured for the project, and 2 World Trade Center is ultimately finished, it would mark the complete rebuilding of the 16-acre site.
Richard Rogers' long-stalled 3 World Trade Center finally climbing again, it's concrete core rising steadily above its nearly-complete podium. Now, it's Norman Foster's turn to bring the last of the World Trade towers to life, and it might happen this time with the help of a media giant. It's starting to look like Foster + Partners' 2 World Trade Center might actually get built, and it's all thanks to Rupert Murdoch. The New York Times reported that News Corporation and 21st Century Fox—both owned by the billionaire media mogul—are interested in using half the building (1.5 million square feet) as a joint headquarters. While there are no firm plans to speak of, the companies have reportedly been in talks for months with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and developer Larry Silverstein, who has rights to build at the site. If the tower is built, it would effectively complete the drawn-out rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Two World Trade Center was originally scheduled to open in 2011, but, as is the case with just about everything with the World Trade Center redevelopment, that deadline didn't stick. The building, as designed by Foster, is widely considered to be the most architecturally adventurous of the glassy World Trade Center bunch. The 79-story structure appears as four rectangular forms, diagonally sliced at the top to form a set of four diamonds. “The building occupies a pivotal position at north-east corner of Memorial Park, and its profile reflects this role as a symbolic marker,” Foster + Partners said in a 2006 statement. “Arranged around a central cruciform core, the shaft is articulated as four interconnected blocks with flexible, column-free office floors that rise to level sixty-four, whereupon the building is cut at angle to address the Memorial below.” The building’s design was drawn up between 2006–2007 and is expected to change at least slightly if this deal moves forward—which the Times noted is far from certain. But if it does go through, the companies might select their own architect for changes. “Given that the foundation has been built, the two sides are assessing whether the structure can accommodate the changes they want for television studios,” reported the Times.
The Real Deal recently scored an interview with Santiago Calatrava, the so-called "symphonist of steel" behind the upcoming (and wildly over budget) World Trade Center Transit Hub, and the nearby Saint Nicholas Church. In the interview, Calatrava explained how New York City's building code impacted the two projects’ designs, offers his thoughts on the World Trade Center master plan, and comments on the construction quality of the Transit Hub. Overall, the controversial architect lavishes praise on just about everyone—from Daniel Libeskind to Larry Silverstein to the Port Authority.
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub—or as its designer Santiago Calatrava likes to think of it, the "bird in flight"—is just blocks from AN's office, so we get to walk by and watch it try to take off regularly. But in the weeks before the holidays, odd “struts” started to be welded between the structure’s giant fins or blades. Not only do these lateral supports detract from the elegance of its long thin blades, I don’t remember seeing them in the renderings of the station. So I went back through every image I could find online and none show these connectors. In many of the renderings, the overlapping of the transit hub's fins obscures where the connectors would have been located. The renderings fades into solid white, obscuring those areas from clear view. Could it be that these were added later in the design process or did Mr. Calatrava know all along that these were needed to help support the weight of the fins? What do you think? Do they compromise the design?
Speaking of One World Trade, Condé Nast’s highly publicized move-in did not go entirely as planned. According to Gawker, Vogue, which is occupying floors 25 and 26, had to delay the relocation of its editorial department due to an infestation of rats. The rodent problem was evidently so dire that the fashion magazine’s editor-in-chief, a one Anna Wintour, went so far as to issue an order to her staff that they must ensure her office is a rat-free zone before she sets foot inside. There was no indication of what measure might be taken should one of those little cheese-loving rascals appear among her papers when she does arrive. One only hopes that Ms. Wintour is an understanding boss who would offer her team some slack, especially where pest control is concerned, considering that it is not in the normal scope of an editorial job. Gawker also reported that Vogue’s sales and marketing staff did make the move on schedule. Eavesdrop is not sure what this might say about these types of jobs and their relative rat-comfort levels.
Sculptor Kenneth Snelson is tired of having his name all over the derided spire atop One World Trade Center. It has been widely reported that Snelson consulted with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on the 441-foot-tall spire that brings the tower to its highly symbolic height of 1,776 feet. But he said he was only peripherally involved in the early stages of the design and is not all that connected to what now towers above Lower Manhattan. Snelson said everyone involved in the design of the spire had the best intentions, but as for its final iteration, he’s no fan. “I don’t know why somebody doesn’t decide, ‘well, we should remove the spire,’” he said.
While the critics sure don't like it, many other casual observers are big fans of Lower Manhattan's World Trade Center. This morning, SOM announced the winner its #WelcomeOneWTC photography contest it held to mark the grand opening of New York City's latest controversy-laden skyscraper. Of about 350 entries, New York–based photographer Gerry Padden took the top honor and will receive a "one-of-a-kind scale model of the tower, handcrafted by the firm's model shop in Manhattan, as well as a limited-edition print of One World Trade Center, taken by renowned photographer James Ewing." Ewing was among the contest judges, which also included top officials at SOM. According to SOM:
One World Trade Center has long captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike, who have watched the building materialize from drawings to a 104-story, crystalline skyscraper that stands boldly in Lower Manhattan. More than 13 years in the making, the 1,776-foot office tower—the tallest in the Western Hemisphere—recaptures the New York skyline, reasserts downtown Manhattan's preeminence as a global business center, and establishes a new civic icon for the country.The photo was taken over the summer from a rooftop in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood.