The Technology Behind One World Trade Center

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One World Trade CenterImage: Cathy Baird

One World Trade Center, which stands proud in Lower Manhattan, New York, is almost complete. The structure, which at 1,792 feet (546 meters) including spire is said to be the tallest in the western hemisphere, is now undergoing its final touches, including interior decoration and installment of the podium glass. It’s been many years in its designing and construction, and its features pay tribute to both the tragic events of September 11, 2001, as well as the nation in which it can be found.

The building, which was formerly known as The Freedom Tower, was originally designed by Daniel Libeskind, but was later revised due to security lapses which were pointed out by the New York Police Department. Architect David Childs and his team have adapted the blueprint accordingly, while also making it more symmetrical and traditional in profile to reflect the contemporary skyline of New York. The new structure has a 185-foot (56-meter) base of concrete, which protects it against potential truck bombs and other terror threats coming from the ground.

One World Trade Center as a whole is also said to be much stronger than an average skyscraper, because of its twisted taper shape. “Tapered buildings, like the John Hancock Tower in Chicago, are stronger than straight up-and-down rectangles,” Childs said in an interview with Project Rebirth back in 2004. “Really, there is an extremely long list of safety innovations that I could cite about the Tower. But in the end, I think the most important thing for the public to know about this building is that its form is inherently extremely strong.”  Upwards from the 20th floor, the square edges of the building’s cubic base are chamfered back, shaping it into eight isosceles triangles. The base of the building will be illuminated by LEDs, and a strong beam of light will be projected above One World Trade Center at night, making it visible for more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the air above.

America's Response MonumentImage: Douwe Blumberg

The construction process itself had to take into consideration the maze of complex infrastructure under the One World Trade Center, such as train tracks, underground pedestrian tunnels, power lines and the subway. A portion of the site was even underwater. These issues have contributed in part to the building’s rather lengthy construction time – seven years and counting. Rebuilding on the site of the Twin Towers attacks also carries a lot of emotional and symbolic weight, and the structure contains small but significant tributes to freedom and the building that came before it.

One World Trade Center’s architectural height of 1,776 feet (541 meters) was designed as a reference to the year that the United States Declaration of Independence was signed, while the window-washing tracks will be located in the 110th floor, as a reminder of the 110 stories of the former World Trade Center buildings. Its footprint is also 200 feet (61 meters) square, almost the same as the footprint of the old towers.

Perhaps the most poignant symbol of all, though, stands outside of the tower. It’s a bronze monument picturing a soldier on a horse, with a piece of steel from the original World Trade Center embedded in its base. It’s titled “America’s Response Monument”, is a tribute to US military forces who operated during the war in Afghanistan and is emblazoned at its base with the Latin phrase “de opresso liber, meaning “to free the oppressed”. The soldier himself is positioned to face One World Trade Center, as if keeping a constant watch over it, protecting it and keeping it safe.

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