A new and long-awaited chapter in downtown Manhattan's resurgence after 9/11 begins next week when the first tower of the 16-acre World Trade Center site officially opens.
At 977 feet, 4 World Trade Center may dwarf in comparison to its neighbor, 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the western hemisphere at 1,776 feet, but the tower's architect said its relatively small height doesn't diminish its impact on the neighborhood.
Osamu Sassa, the chief architect for 4 World Trade Center, which opens Nov. 13, said he and his team worked hard to make sure the building not only fits in downtown but also presents New Yorkers a taste of what's to come.
"It's nice to build those models and see it on paper but actually standing in it, that's when you get the full effect," he said while giving amNewYork a tour of the structure Thursday.
The glass tower, at 150 Greenwich St., is directly across from the 9/11 memorial site and Sassa said his team and the building's owner, Silverstein Properties, made sure the façade and lobby complemented the somber site.
There are no exhausts or pipes or other exterior additions on the side of the building that faces the memorial, and the shine of the lobby's black granite walls blend with the memorial's atmosphere, according to Sassa.
"You have the memorial on one side of the lobby and on the other you have its reflection on the walls," he said.
Further inside the lobby are three interactive art walls that feature videos of waterfalls, the sky and trees, which are also the artistic themes of the memorial.
"Mr. Silverstein was very keen on the idea and wanted the images to change constantly," the architect said.
The building's most impressive feature is its 57th-floor terrace which offers a panoramic view of Manhattan, western Queens and eastern New Jersey.
Although 4 World Trade Center will be a commercial building closed to tourists, Gianna Frederique, a marketing director for Silverstein, said the developer has rented out the terrace for events.
Already groups like the Municipal Arts Society and the New York City Ballet have used the space and interest has boomed, according to Frederique.
The marketing director said the idea came from 7 World Trade Center, which is north of the site and opened in 2006, when it held similar events after its opening.
"We didn't think it would be popular for that, but it morphed and everyone wanted to hold events there. The same is happening at 4 World Trade Center," she said.
In addition, a major movie just finished filming on the 57th floor and the producers were impressed with the accommodations, according to Frederique.
The building is 50% leased to the city and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey but Frederique predicted companies would be interested once they looked inside.
There has been a lot of interest from people who just want to do their part to improve downtown Manhattan, Sassa added.
"When we constructed this tower we wanted it to follow the master plan of the new World Trade Center and really put the area back on the map," he said.