One World Trade Center Keeps Moving Forward

In my last post about One World Trade Center, I wrote about how the entire World Trade Center project was facing a number of roadblocks, from a bigger price tag to delays in construction. It seemed like the phoenix was in danger of stalling out at 93 floors.

As a matter of fact, One World Trade Center was always rising. According to the building’s designers, floors 94 through 99 technically don’t exist. The building’s 13 ft.¬†ceilings, 186 ft. uninhabited base and a few mechanical and service floors with ceilings over 13 feet account for this. With a planned height of 1,368 ft (1,776 with the pinnacle), the final floor count will be 104…somehow. ūüėȬ†In a matter of weeks, One World Trade Center will top out.

One World Trade Center is up to 100 floors now and stands high at 1,244 ft. It is only six feet away from overtaking the Empire State Building as the tallest building in New York City and third tallest building in the United States. Upon its completion, it will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest building in the world.

Four World Trade Center is also on schedule to top out later this month at 975 feet and 72 stories.

While the picture currently looks grim for both Two and Three World Trade Center, due to a lack of confirmed tenants, things could get better soon. One World Trade Center is the poster child for an effort to revitalize downtown Manhattan, in much the same way the original World Trade Center did in the 1970s. One World Trade Center is 60 percent leased and with the official logo that was recently released, it should be up to 100 percent very soon, bringing more tenants to the rest of the complex as well.

Official Logo for One World Trade Center

NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams did a special on the building’s construction. When William’s asked veteran journalist Harry Smith if he would work in One World Trade Center, Smith quickly responded…

In a heartbeat…you see it now, you go in it and realize, especially talking to the guys who work there how, literally,¬†safe it is…People are saying, ‘We’re not going to let the other guys win. We’re going in. We’re moving in. We’re going to work there.'”

It should also be noted that One World Trade Center will be one of the safest buildings in the world, both structurally and security-wise, as well as one of the most environmentally friendly. By the time the building opens next year, it will be more than ready to face the 21st century and beyond. The Phoenix continues to rise.

The World Trade Center - April 11, 2012

The iconic Empire State Building, as seen from one of the floors of One World Trade Center. Photo credit: John Makely, MSNBC (4/11/12)

The Phoenix…..Hits Another Roadblock

The once-rapid progress at the World Trade Center site has been slowed to a near halt…again.

For years, the World Trade Center site hit setback after setback, until a couple of years ago, when design changes and bureaucratic gridlock appeared to be gone. The smooth sailing has hit the wall again.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the two-state infrastructure agency in charge of rebuilding the World Trade Center, was blasted as being “dysfunctional” and plagued with “poorly coordinated capital planning processes, insufficient cost controls, and a lack of transparent and effective oversight…” by auditors on Tuesday, February 5.

In 2008, the entire project had an estimated cost of about $11 billion. Independent companies that are contracting with the Port Authority said they would pay for a large part of the construction and the agency itself would only be spending a few billion (because, you know, that’s such a light number these days…). As of 2012, the cost has risen $3.8 billion, giving the site a current price tag of $14.8 billion. Even with independent companies picking up a large chunk of the tab, the Port Authority will end up spending nearly $8 billion, quite the far cry from the $6 billion estimate from way back when in 2008.

What did the Port Authority have to say? “It isn’t our fault!” They blamed the companies they had contracted with for delays and the bad economy, the latter becoming an increasingly irrelevant explanation.

Even before this report came out, I suspected something was wrong. I wrote monthly updates on progress at the World Trade Center site last year, using the title “The Phoenix Rises” followed by the appropriate month (ie: “November Edition”). Now it appears that the Phoenix is having a little trouble being reborn.

One World Trade Center’s (the main building in the complex) one-floor-a-week method of construction appeared to stop almost two months ago. Construction of the steel framework got to the 90th floor in mid December and then it awkwardly stopped. Since then, I’ve consistently checked construction updates and…..it’s early February and….still at the 90th floor. My plan was to write about how the tower had reached the 93rd-95th floor in January. By now, it should have been around 98 floors high.

The Port Authority blamed bad weather for the delayed construction….of almost two months. That would’ve been believable if it had been said in late December or early January.

Sadly, progress on both Two and Three World Trade Center has been postponed. Two World Trade Center, planned to be 88 stories, is stalled at ground level and the beautiful, cross-beam-styled Three World Trade Center, planned to be 80 floors, is in danger of becoming a seven story stump.

Let’s hope the Port Authority gets its act together, Oh, wait nevermind. It’s just the weather and those darn third parties…

World Trade Center - late January 2012

The Phoenix Rises (Last 2011 Update)

Day by day, beam by beam, panel by panel, One World Trade Center continues its journey into dominion over the New York sky. As of December 2, the tower’s steel structure towers 90 stories, 1,132 feet into the troposphere. Concrete flooring has been installed up to the 82nd floor and the sleek, glass-paneled facade covers 65 floors. Already, the tower is the third tallest building in New York (behind the iconic Empire State Building and Bank of America Tower).

In approximately one year (December 2012), One World Trade Center will be completed. The 1,776-ft-tall skyscraper will be opened to the public in early 2013, about 11 and a half years after the 9/11 attacks. One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, third tallest in the world (after the 2,723-ft-tall Burj Khalifa and the 1,972-ft-tall Abraj Al Bait) and a source of national pride for the United States.

Stay tuned for the next update, in January 2012, when One World Trade Center is around 93 floors high.

The World Trade Center - November 18, 2011 *credit: AP*

The Phoenix Rises (November 2011 Edition)

Over ten years ago, the worst terrorist attack in American history took thousands of lives and two American icons. For the past decade, Lower Manhattan had a large scar that, for a while, seemed like it would never heal. Progress for future development of Ground Zero was painfully slow as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation agonized over what exactly would become of what was once the World Trade Center.

Construction of what was originally named¬†“Freedom Tower” was slow. Construction started in 2006 and a completion date was set: The 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 attack on September 11, 2011. However, after bureaucratic disputes and redesigns of the Freedom Tower, now called One World Trade Center, progress was stalled further. New Yorkers and Americans wondered; Would the site ever be completed?

Early construction was slow. But when the hurdles were removed, construction crews worked quickly. As of November 1, 2011, One World Trade Center towers 88 stories into the Manhattan sky. Concrete flooring has been laid up to the 78th floor and the sleek, modern glass paneling has risen to cover 62 floors. The tower is expected to be 90 stories by mid November. The Port Authority has estimated completion to be at some point in 2013, when One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and third tallest in the world Рa symbolic 1,776 feet to the top of the antenna and 1,368 feet to the roof, the same height as the roof of Tower One of the original World Trade Center.

One World Trade Center - October 28, 2011 - source: "Joe.My.God." blog

Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero

The Science Channel (owned by the Discovery Channel) is showing a mini-series documentary called “Rising: Rebuilding Ground Zero” all day today (September 11, 2011). If you’re able to, I hightly recommend that you tune in, even if just for moments.

In Memory of those who perished: http://micahstwocents.com/2977-2/
9/11 Memorial In Pictures & Video: http://micahstwocents.com/911-memorial-in-pictures/
I Will Never Forget: http://micahstwocents.com/i-will-never-forget/
Reflections of a Millennial on September 11: http://micahstwocents.com/reflections-of-a-millennial-on-september-11/

I Will Never Forget

Ten years ago today, I was a 12-year-old 6th grade student at a small school in California’s Central Valley. That morning I woke up earlier than I usually did because my mother called me to her room as she was getting ready for work. She looked at the television and said, “A plane crashed into the Twin Towers!”

I was stunned. The first thing I thought was, “It’s an accident.” My eyes were glued to the news coverage. I stared in wonderment at the towers I had seen “in the flesh” just three years before. My idealistic self was sure that the authorities would evacuate everyone and put out the raging fire. I went back to my room to get ready for school.

Minutes later, my mother called me back to her room. “A second plane hit! We’re under attack!” I was even more confused than I had been before. These kinds of things only happened in the movies I loved to watch. This didn’t happen in real life. People weren’t that evil.

From that point on, I stayed in my parents’ room, my eyes vigilantly focused on the television screen. Once my father came back from his morning jog, my mother and I filled him in on what had just happened in New York. He was just as stunned as we were. The whole nation was.

When the first tower began to collapse, all I could do was scream, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” We all had a sickening feeling. We were numb. Thousands of people had just died and the famous New York skyline was forever changed.

As a 12-year-old, I understood death. Three years prior, my beloved grandmother had passed away after a long fight with cancer. Earlier that year, my great-grandfather had died after suddenly collapsing from cardiac arrest. I knew and understood that the people in the towers were dead. I knew their families were in emotional torment.

However, I think it’s safe to say that I was most impacted by the loss of two American icons. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center had been the defining feature of the New York skyline for decades. They had made cameos in movies, television shows and music videos for a generation.

After visiting New York in 1998, I was mesmerized by the city. It was everything I had imagined it to be and more. When I came back home, I religiously drew the various NY landmarks to detail. While others would draw two big boxes to represent the World Trade Center, I drew the individual columns and sky lobbies. I was Manhattan’s biggest fan (and I still am).

When my cousin briefly trained in the South Tower for her job with Morgan Stanley a year before 9/11, I was so excited. I would proudly say, “My cousin worked in the World Trade Center.” Immediately after September 11, I was haunted by the thought, “My cousin actually worked in the World Trade Center a year before.”

Of course, as I’ve grown and developed as a human being, I have a greater understanding of what the families of the victims felt and continue to feel. I cannot even imagine losing a father, mother, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend to a terrorist attack. The thought alone fills me with dread and sadness. I feel so bad for the families of the 9/11 victims and I hope that we as a nation can continue to come together to help and comfort them.

Now, the World Trade Center site is rapidly taking shape. One World Trade Center (formerly Freedom Tower) is rising higher and higher into that sacred sky. Every day, the complex is changing and transforming into something new. As the 21st century progresses onward, the new towers at the World Trade Center are taking shape, ready for this modern century.

In the midst of this new birth, a reminder of that day and what used to be are etched into the ground. The subterranean memorial includes a museum and two giant footprints of where the Twin Towers once stood. Nearly four decades after the towers opened to the public, reflecting pools in their shape now occupy what used to be the location of some of the tallest buildings in the world. Young children and future generations will visit the memorial and reflect on the events of that horrific day, never knowing a New York with the Twin Towers.

I will forever miss the towers. Those two monoliths of American superiority in business and might can never be truly replaced, just like the nearly three thousand lives lost can never be replaced or forgotten. On this the tenth anniversary of the worst (and hopefully last) terrorist attack in U.S. history, let us all reflect and mourn the loss. Never forget.

Reflections of a Millennial on September 11

*Note: A “Millennial” is a member of the Millennial Generation (people born between 1980 and 1995). I was born in 1989. Here’s my perspective…

It is¬†hard to believe that the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is in one week. Where has the time gone? It’s amazing¬†how much has happened and how much this event shaped the Millennial Generation.

The world has changed so much this last, turbulent decade. America entered two wars (and ironically lowered taxes to somehow pay for them), saw some of its worst natural disasters, lost several key figures and celebrities (Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Patrick Swayze, etc.), saw its Middle Class decline and crashed into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

We also advanced in the fields of science and genetics, discovered hundreds of planets orbiting other stars (some that may be Earth-like and harbor life), saw the advancement of gay rights with several states (and other nations) legalizing marriage equality, elected the first African-American to the White House and became addicted to the mp3 player. Quite the contrast.

Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” opens with this famous paragraph that perfectly sums up the opening decade of the 21st century:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

My generation is used to these extremes. According to demographers, people in my age group (late teens to early 30s) are accustomed to the threat of terrorism. Personally, having gone through my teenage years during the last decade, it is hard for me to imagine airports without security lines and strict carry-on rules.

We are also skeptical of organized religion, given the great advancement of science¬†and the global display of extremist religion. We’ve seen how much hatred and violence¬†is bred from¬†ignorance and intolerance.¬†Millennials want to see a¬†peaceful world where all are equal. Nationalism isn’t as strong with our generation as it was with others in the past.¬†We see ourselves as part of an emerging and growing global culture that transcends political lines on a map.¬†Even young people in the Middle East see the need for tolerance and democracy (ie: Arab Spring¬†2011).

September 11 was a wake-up call to everyone. We were assured that a prosperous, promising future was going to come to us. We never thought that a group of religious fanatics would murder thousands and compromise global security. Seeing the towers collapse into a cloud of twisted steel and rubble was a slap in the face and a call to arms for us to fight for a better tomorrow.

My only hope is that the next decade is smoother than the last. As we remember how the world changed on a single day, let us look toward a future of reason and peaceful coexistence. I know there will be global conflicts, famine and disease; Those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But I hope that as science and discovery open new horizons to us, humanity doesn’t regress into the dark ages.

To see the progress at the Word Trade Center site, see my post (the latest in a series) on the construction as of August 2011: http://micahstwocents.com/2011/08/11/the-phoenix-rises-august-2011-edition/