C.B. 1 gets Freedom Tower presentation


By Elizabeth O’Brien

Freedom Tower architect David Childs offered more details Wednesday on security and public access for his building, a collaboration with site planner Daniel Liebskind that could restore Downtown’s skyline as early as 2006.

At a Community Board 1 meeting, Childs stressed that much about the design for the 1,776-foot tower remained subject to change. But he presented one certainty along with the “fluid” plans: The building would be among the safest in the world.

This means that people won’t be as free to move about as they were at the previous World Trade Center, Childs conceded. When a board member asked about the possibility of walking through the lobby as a shortcut, Childs responded, “Those days are gone.”

There will be a separate lobby on West St. for visitors who just want to go to the tower’s observation areas, Childs said. Those visitors will be funneled through a mezzanine level as they proceed to two dedicated elevators, he added.

The top of the occupied portion of the building, at about 60 stories or 1,100 feet, will have an enclosed observation deck and Windows on the World restaurant. There will be another observation deck inside the latticework top at 1,500 ft., Childs said.

There will also be ground-level public space outside the building, but landscaping has not yet been designed, Childs said. There will be little, if any, room inside the lobby for retail, but there will be shops on some basement levels, he added.

Julie Menin, a member of C.B. 1 and a member of the jury that selected the Reflecting Absence memorial design, praised Childs’ concept of public space.

“I just want to say that the experience of a visitor to the memorial and Freedom Tower will be more hospitable than existed previously,” Menin said.

As a member of the memorial jury, Menin had access to wind studies of the site. The torqued shape of the Freedom Tower catches the wind, welcome news for anyone who experienced the powerful gusts at the old World Trade Center site. Windmills in the upper third of the building will harness the wind to generate about 25 percent of the building’s energy needs, Childs said.

While the community embraced the windmills, many were more concerned about another energy source in the Freedom Tower: diesel fuel. There will be diesel fuel storage for companies’ back-up generators, Childs said. However, he said the fuel would not be below the building to the extent it was kept in 7 World Trade Center, which burned and collapsed on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001.

The exact place of the diesel fuel storage has not been determined, said John Lieber, senior vice president of Silverstein Properties, the company of W.T.C. leaseholder Larry Silverstein. The company also hopes to provide several non-diesel sources of power so that businesses will have an alternative to diesel fuel, Lieber added.

“The New York City law on this is very weak and it doesn’t take into account any acts of terrorism,” Madelyn Wils, chairperson of C.B. 1, said of diesel fuel. “We would probably like to follow it up as it goes along.”

Wils said she also wanted to monitor the issue of black car and taxi access to the site. Trucks and buses will likely enter and be searched at the Deutsche Bank building site, but no space has been designated for company cars and taxis.

“This is going to be the blight of your existence, post-Freedom Tower, if you don’t help us get this addressed,” Wils said to Lieber of Silverstein Properties.

“I’d consider that a warning,” Childs joked.

Childs said delivery trucks are likely to exit on Washington St. near Vesey St., and it is still unclear exactly how big the Freedom Tower footprint will be since planners are debating how wide to make Vesey.

“That’s something we’re very worried about, because it would be nice to keep on the governor’s time schedule,” said Childs, sounding something less than very worried. “You need to know the dimension of your site before you really design a building.”


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