By Sarah Trefethen
Just inside the security fences that have become an accepted part of the landscape of Lower Manhattan, a missing piece of the city is quickly taking shape.
Fulton and Greenwich Streets, whose paths through the former superblock of the World Trade Center are being restored in the site’s reconstruction, have clearly taken shape between busting individual construction sites.
“This next span of time is really the biggest change in the site in a long time, because it’s re-weaving itself back into the center of the city,” said Jordan Barowitz, spokesperson for the Durst Organization, which co-owns 1 World Trade Center with the Port Authority. “The fences are starting to come down and it’s becoming part of New York again.”
The first block of the new streets is scheduled to be open at the end of next month, when employees of the Port Authority and New York City start going to work at 4 World Trade Center when it becomes the first of the site’s five office buildings to open for business.
Last week, workers in hardhats were busy putting the finishing touches on the building’s 46-foot-high lobby, which faces across Greenwich Street from the 9/11 Memorial Park. Designed by the Japanese architects Maki and Associates, the space’s wood and marble finishes have a clean, natural and spacious feel.
The park’s trees are clearly reflected in the polished black marble wall behind the reception desk. The building’s owner, Silverstein Properties, reports the 72-story tower is just half leased.
But a spokesperson said he’s not concerned — 7 World Trade Center, Silverstein’s proof-of-concept tower that opened north of the site in 2006, started out empty and is now fully leased.
Silverstein has also had good news to report with a term sheet signed for 3 World Trade Center, 4’s neighbor to the north. According to the New York Post, the media investment firm GroupM plans to consolidate in 515,000 s/f in the 9 lower floors by late 2016. Once that deal is finalized, Silverstein will be able to start work on the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed tower, just in time for the construction crews to move over from 4.
Silverstein’s third building on the site, 2 World Trade Center, is still awaiting an anchor tenant to launch construction.
1WTC, the spire of which is slowly becoming an accepted part of the city’s skyline, should be open in 2015, Barowitz said. Anchor tenant Conde Nast is scheduled to begin build out on their 1.1 million square feet space in January.
Office towers are not the only building under construction on the site.
Santiago Calatrava’s ornate transit center, designed to accommodate 250,000 pedestrians per day, has started to take shape. The exterior of the above-ground portion of the design is covered in two rows of curved fins that rise up from a sort of spine and taper towards the ground. On each end of the building, the bases of a handful of the fins are in place.
And the 9/11 Memorial Museum, also on the site, is scheduled to open next year.
At that time, it is hoped that the fences and security surrounding the twin pools in the Memorial Plaza will come down, and residents, office workers and visitors will be able to walk freely through the public space.