By Christian Murray
December 12, 2003
The final shape of the new World Trade Center may still be in doubt, but one part of the complex started going up yesterday.
The first steel beam that will support the weight of office space was erected yesterday at 7 World Trade Center, marking the formal start of tenant floor reconstruction. The beam was headed for the 11th floor, where the first office tenants will rent space. The first 10 floors, already partially built, will house transformers for a Consolidated Edison substation that will supply electricity to much of lower Manhattan.
"Seven World Trade Center was the last building to go down, and it will be the first building to go up," said Gov. George Pataki during a ceremony at the site. The building, just north of the trade center site, burst into flames on Sept. 11, 2001, after it was hit by rubble from the Twin Towers and collapsed seven hours later.
Larry Silverstein, the site leaseholder, said the 52-story building's steel will be topped out by the end of next year and completed by the end of 2005.
Pataki, Silverstein, and buildings architect David M. Childs signed the white beam, while workers in blue hard hats asked them to sign their construction hats. A large crane dropped down and picked up the beam amid the wind and rain. Hanging below the beam was an American flag made by local craftsmen in Afghanistan to commemorate Sept. 11.
"David Childs knows how to build high-class expensive buildings," Silverstein said, claiming it may become the most expensive building built in the United States. Last year, estimated costs were about $700 million. The remark about Childs underscored one reason Silverstein has insisted Childs take over the lead role from Daniel Libeskind, who won the competition to design the trade center despite having little experience with skyscrapers. The two architects, whose relationship has been testy, are now collaborating on the design of the site's main building, Freedom Tower, expected to soar to 1,776 feet. Seven World Trade Center is expected to be 750 feet.
Pataki said Childs and Libeskind have one more week to come up with the design of Freedom Tower. They are "two strong minds and two strong personalities," he said.
The design is expected to be unveiled next week with construction beginning in summer.
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