Wave of Milestones Mark Downtown Year EndDec 31, 2009
From the topping out of downtown’s new tallest skyscraper (Beekman Tower), to the bottoming out of a deconstructed tower (Fiterman Hall), the final weeks of 2009 brought a remarkable wave of construction accomplishments. The milestones mark a turning point in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan since 9/11, with public and private works delivering long-awaited promises to the community. Here’s a recap of recent achievements.
World Trade Center
At the center of it all is the World Trade Center (WTC), where for first time in eight years structures have risen well above the perimeter fence. In one corner is the now five-story-tall 1 WTC (Freedom Tower), where Port Authority workers are steadily erecting steel and pouring concrete floors for what will be New York’s tallest tower.
The tower, after several years of extensive sub-grade work ranging from demolition and mass excavation, to foundation and double core construction, finally began to emerge above ground about a year ago. Today, much of contractor Tishman Construction’s manpower is devoted to 1 WTC superstructure — on track to reach floor 20 by spring 2010.
Opposite from 1 WTC is developer Silverstein Properties’s 4 WTC, where five sub-grade stories were built through 2009 and just this month steel superstructure began to rise. A second tower crane was recently installed at the site, helping to install steel for several more stories in the upcoming quarter.
The fate of 2 WTC and 3 WTC will likely be better known over the next few weeks, once the arbitration between Silverstein and the Port Authority is concluded.
Southwest of the towers, the National September 11 Memorial and Museum is taking shape. Both giant square reflecting pools, which will outline the twin towers’ footprints with waterfalls, are clear, and oversized artifacts are now being moved into their future locations so the Memorial can be built around them.
One other less-visible but key project also has made headway. The South Bathtub excavation project continues just south of the Memorial Plaza, preparing for construction of the future Vehicular Security Center (VSC). To complete the work, extensive coordination took place between the Port and the state Department of Transportation, as well as contractors for 130 Liberty and 130 Cedar Street — helping ensure progress on the VSC, the future home of tour-bus parking and other WTC vehicle access.
The Port’s iconic WTC Transportation Hub also is making headway in multiple locations in the site. On the east side, the east-west connector’s raw structure is formed outside the World Financial Center and next to 1 WTC’s base — the first segment of an underground pedestrian concourse that will link to the main Hub on the west side of the site. Excavation for the main building’s site is now nearly complete and construction there is beginning.
130 Liberty Street
Just south of the WTC (and eventually incorporated into it), the former Deutsche Bank tower is being deconstructed once again after a two-year hiatus prompted by a fire in 2007. Workers already have broken out the concrete floors and removed steel members piece-by-piece of floor 26, and are now at work on floors 25 and 24. No official schedule has been released for the full completion, but the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the building’s owner, will announce one once each floor’s demolition and forecasted schedule becomes more routine.
A second much-anticipated demolition reached its end in late November 2009. Fiterman Hall, the 15-story Borough of Manhattan Community College irreparably damaged on 9/11, was fully abated and then deconstructed to its foundations this year. The project was a major milestone lauded by community leaders, who gathered on December 1st to break ground on the new Fiterman Hall — for which construction has already begun.
Cortlandt R/W Station
The Cortlandt Street R/W station was met with a welcome return to service the day before Thanksgiving 2009. The northbound platform served its first riders since August 2005, when the station closed for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to excavate below it, forming the underground Dey Street passage to link the Fulton Transit Center to the WTC. The renovated uptown platform, running beneath Church Street, now has wider entrances and is itself wider in one section. The downtown platform will remain closed while WTC construction continues outside its western wall, through approximately September 2011.
The downtown skyline changed significantly when Beekman Tower topped out at 76 stories in mid-November. Famed architect Frank Gehry attended the ceremony to mark the peak day, watching as the wavy aluminum curtain wall continued upward. The building is expected to accept its first residents in 2012, along with students enrolled in its lower-floor school.
130 Cedar Street & 123 Washington Street
Two new hotels south of the WTC reached their own milestones late this year. Last month, 130 Cedar Street welcomed its first guests to the new Club Quarters — now open on the building’s lower floors while the upper floors are slated for February 2010 completion. At 123 Washington, the crane and hoist came down, with only a section of the upper façade remaining. That tower will open this spring as a combination W Hotel and condominiums.
Fulton Street Reconstruction
Two years of water-main replacement and utility upgrades concluded late this year on the main shopping corridor of Fulton Street (from Broadway to Gold). The extensive city project improved vital utilities, as well as replaced sidewalks and curbs, and rebuilt the roadway and crosswalks for this key downtown arterial. Road and utility reconstruction work continues east of Gold Street, as does the city’s façade improvement program for buildings lining Fulton Street.
While final fit-out at the new Goldman Sachs headquarters winds down, employees are gradually beginning to move into the newest Battery Park City skyscraper. The glass- and stainless-steel tower, designed by architect Henry Cobb of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, houses six high-tech trading floors and 30 floors of office space among its 2.1 million square feet. Its design also incorporates environmentally sustainable features and the latest green-building technologies. Full occupancy is expected later in 2010.
New York Stock Exchange Streetscape
This fall also brought the end of NYSE streetscape reconstruction, launched by the city Economic Development Corporation in spring 2008. The project enhanced the Financial District’s aesthetics while improving essential security conditions of this new pedestrian plaza. The distinctive “eurocobble” paving, along with a series of interpretive elements, showcase the district’s history — including a series of wooden pavers on Wall Street that outline the timber palisade that gave the street its name. The revamped streetscape also brought two sets of state-of-the-art “turntable” barriers to serve as security checkpoints.