Rising steel at the W.T.C.


From the fourth deck of One World Trade Center, about 100 feet above street level, the entire Trade Center site stretches out in one big jumble of steel, concrete and machinery.

The view is nothing compared to the one office tenants will eventually enjoy from much higher off the ground, but during a tour of the site last week, the fourth deck offered a good vantage point to observe recent progress on several of the site’s biggest projects.

That includes 1 W.T.C. itself, where steel last week poked up 200 feet above the street, or the equivalent of 20 stories. The Port Authority is finishing off the tall mechanical floors of 1 W.T.C., formerly known as the Freedom Tower, and will soon move into the shorter office floors, which are much easier to construct and are expected to rise more quickly. The tower is scheduled to open in 2013.

Just south of 1 W.T.C. is the memorial plaza, where the memorial pools have taken shape in the footprint of the original Twin Towers. The north pool is a bit ahead of the south one, and workers are already beginning to install the machinery there for the waterfalls that will eventually fill the concrete pit. The waterfalls, along with parapets with the victims’ names and a tree-dotted plaza, are scheduled to open on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11.

Beneath the memorial, the Port is building out the 9/11 museum, working around several large artifacts that have already been dropped into place. That includes the “last column,” a steel beam covered in mementos of those killed in the attacks. The column is now shrouded in white material, to protect it while construction goes on all around.

On the east side of the W.T.C. site, the Port is excavating into the bedrock to build Santiago Calatrava’s white-winged PATH hub. The train station is scheduled to open at the beginning of 2014.

Also on the east side, the sites for Towers 2 and 3 sit silent as the Port argues with developer Larry Silverstein over who will pay to build the towers and when. But work is continuing on Tower 4, in the southeast corner of the site, where steel appeared above street level late last year.

Silverstein and the Port have been locked in a dispute over the office tower funding since early last year. They entered arbitration over the summer to renegotiate a 2006 agreement that defined each side’s development obligations at the site. Late last month, the arbiters ruled on some of the issues but sent both sides back to the negotiating table to reach a final agreement by the middle of March. The sides have met on rebuilding schedule issues and were expected to meet this week with the governor and mayor to resume discussions of the monetary issues.