2 World Trade Center Plans and Drawings, 2006 to 2015

Lower Manhattan Skyline in New York City, December 30, 2016
Lower Manhattan Skyline in New York City, December 30, 2016. Photo by Gary Hershorn / Corbis News / Getty Images (cropped)
01
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Foster's 2006 Vision for 2 WTC

Proposed 2006 Manhattan Skyline of the New World Trade Center Office Towers
Proposed 2006 Manhattan Skyline of the New World Trade Center Office Towers. Press Photo Handout by RRP, Team Macarie via Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images (cropped)

Which skyscraper will fill the hole between One World Trade Center and Tower 3? We know the next building to be constructed will be called 2 World Trade Center, or Tower 2, but will the architect be the Brit or the Dane—Sir Norman Foster or Bjarke Ingels?

The first design had that slanted roof with four diamonds. Created by Foster and Partners, the 2006 renderings for 2 WTC showed a futuristic 1,254 foot building with 78 stories. An uncertain economy stalled construction plans, and then Foster's unique, diamond-roofed skyscraper got the boot. In June 2015 new plans by a new architect were revealed: The Ingels redesign was about 80 stories and about 1,340 feet.

Tower 2 was always part of Daniel Libeskind's 2002 Master Plan for the World Trade Center. Whatever design is chosen, 2 WTC will be the second tallest skyscraper of the group. Tower 2 is the last office skyscraper to fill the hole left at the World Trade Center site in New York City's Lower Manhattan.This is the story of two designers vying for the opportunity to rebuild after the 2001 terror strikes.

Take a look here at both designs. The jury is still out.

02
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The Boys of Greenwich Street in 2006

September 7, 2006 Unveiling of New Designs for 3 towers. Photo shows Fumihiko Maki (4WTC), Larry Silverstein (Developer), Norman Foster (2WTC), and Richard Rogers (3WTC)
From left to right, Fumihiko Maki (4WTC), Larry Silverstein (Developer), Norman Foster (2WTC), and Richard Rogers (3WTC). Photo by Joe Woolhead courtesy Silverstein Properties, Inc. Press Kit

Fully five years after the September 2001 terrorist attacks destroyed the area, the public was becoming anxious with the lack of progress. Developer Larry Silverstein was, too. By June 2005, Silverstein had gained more control over the redevelopment by introducing an elegant yet more conventional Freedom Tower redesigned by David Childs. By December 2005 Silverstein had chosen Norman Foster to design the second tower, and then in May 2006 the developer appointed two more Pritzker Laureates—British architect Richard Rogers to design Tower 3 and Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki to create Tower 4.

In keeping with Daniel Libeskind's Master Plan for the World Trade Center site, Towers 2, 3, and 4 formed a descending spiral toward the Memorial. Towers 2, 3, and 4 were expected to include 6.2 million square feet of office space and a half million square feet of retail space.

Silverstein had chosen a star-studded team of architects to redevelop Ground Zero. Three Pritzker Laureates were to design the three skyscrapers on Greenwich Street. Fumihiko Maki's Four World Trade Center was the first to be completed in 2013.

Source: Press Release, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, September 7, 2006 [accessed August 2, 2015]

03
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Foster's 2006 Vision for a Meaningful Tower 2

Architect's Sketch
Concept Sketch for World Trade Center Tower 2. Press Image Foster and Partners, courtesy Silverstein Properties

Designed in 2006 by Norman Foster + Partners, Tower 2 was to be made up of four blocks around a cross-shaped core. The shape and location of the skyscraper assured that it would not cast a shadow on the 9/11 Memorial Plaza. Light-filled, flexible, column-free office floors would rise to the 59th floor, where the glass facade shears off at an angle to address the Memorial Park.

Foster's Tower 2 incorporates symbols of hope. Sketches clearly show the relationship that rooftop diamonds have to the memorial pools below—they are pointers, symbolically saying "Remember me."

Source: Project Description, Foster + Partners [accessed June 9, 2015]

04
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Foster's 2006 Vision for 2 WTC

Top Floors Sectional View of Norman Foster's Vision for Tower 2
Sectional View of Norman Foster's Vision for Tower 2. Press Handout Rendering by Foster and Partners, courtesy of Silverstein Properties (cropped)

The upper floor of Tower 2 has multiple-height function rooms with sweeping views of the Memorial, the river, and the city. The tall height of Tower 2 conveys important meanings. "The dramatic height of the tower celebrates the spirit that has historically driven Manhattan to build tall,"  Foster said in his architect's statement.

On all four sides notches divide Tower 2 into four interconnected blocks. Foster's Tower 2 includes:

  • 143,000 square feet of retail (95,000 square feet at or above street level)
  • 60 office floors that total 2.3 million square feet
  • four trading floors
  • a 65-foot high office lobby
05
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A Distinctive Diamond Top for the 2006 Tower 2 Design

Architect's Rendering
Norman Foster's Plan for Tower 2 at the New York World Trade Center Top of World Trade Center Tower 2 at Night. Rendering: Foster and Partners, courtesy of Silverstein Properties

According to architect Norman Foster, the diamond-shaped top of 2 WTC was to be a landmark on the city's skyline. Foster said that the crystalline top of the tower "respects the master plan and bows down to the Memorial Park commemorating the tragic events that unfolded here. But it is also a powerful symbol of hope for the future."

In 2006, Foster described the design for 2WTC as revolving "around a central cruciform core."

"...the shaft is articulated as four interconnected blocks with flexible, column-free office floors that rise to level sixty-four, whereupon the building is cut at angle to address the Memorial below...."

Norman Foster had a vision for Tower 2, but developer Silverstein had no commitments from businesses who might lease the office building. The construction of Tower 2 had stalled at its foundation because of a lack of tenants.

Source: Project Description, Foster + Partners [accessed June 9, 2015]

06
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Ground Zero Gets Another New Look in 2015

Rendering of 2WTC exterior designed in 2015 by Bjarke Ingels Group, showing box-like steps or setbacks
Rendering of 2015 Design for 2WTC by Bjarke Ingels Group. Press image © Silverstein Properties, Inc., all rights reserved (cropped)

Fast forward to April 2015. News organizations like The Wall Street Journal were reporting that Rupert Murdoch and his Fox media empire may take over space at Ground Zero.  With a lease commitment, developer Larry Silverstein could move ahead with rebuilding Lower Manhattan.

And then, in June 2015, plans and renderings were publicized by Silverstein. The Danish "starchitect" Bjarke Ingels of the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) had developed a new Tower 2.

The 2015 press release for the new 2 WTC design claimed "The building is aligned along the axis of World Trade Center Master Planner Daniel Libeskind’s ‘Wedge of Light’ plaza to preserve the views to St. Paul’s Chapel from the Memorial park."

The design concept is that of seven boxes, each about 12 stories high, but with different lengths—stacked not as a pyramid, but as an early New York City art deco ziggurat skyscraper with a dramatic one-sided setback required by zoning regulations.

Source: "200 GREENWICH STREET / 2 WTC BUILDING FACTS" press release by Silverstein Properties, Inc (PDF) [accessed June 9, 2015]

07
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The 2015 Tower 2 - Terraces of Green

Rendering of garden terraces on setbacks of 2WTC designed by Bjarke Ingels Group
Rendering of garden terraces on setbacks of 2WTC designed by Bjarke Ingels Group. Press image © Silverstein Properties, Inc., all rights reserved. (cropped)

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) had put green back into the World Trade Center site. The 2015 redesign of 2 WTC included green terrace areas integrated into the skyscraper, perhaps an homage to Libeskind's original plan for a Vertical World Garden. The BIG architects intended to meld a high functioning skyscraper facade facing Ground Zero and New York's financial district with terraced green spaces facing toward the rooftop gardens found in the nearby Tribeca neighborhood.

The stacking design creates 38,000 square feet (3,530 square meters) of outdoor space, with views of NYC that should be highly marketable office space. It was suggested that the floors with terraces could also be used as communal "amenity floors" for all office dwellers of the building.

Source: "200 GREENWICH STREET / 2 WTC BUILDING FACTS" press release by Silverstein Properties, Inc (PDF) [accessed June 9, 2015]

08
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2015 Proposed Lobby for 2WTC

2015 rendering of interior lobby, Bjarke Ingels Group designed 2WTC
Rendering of 2015 Proposed Lobby Designed for 2 WTC by Bjarke Ingels Group. Press image © Silverstein Properties, Inc., all rights reserved (cropped)

The position of 2WTC is ideal for the commuter—eleven subway lines and PATH trains meet under Santiago Calatrava's WTC Transportation Complex, right next door. Both Towers 2 and 3 will have grand views of the imposing bird-like structure that visually draws the casual passerby to Ground Zero.

The 2015 BIG design for 2WTC depicts a 38,000 square foot (3,530 square meters) lobby that is directly connected to the transportation hub. A concourse of restaurants and retail stores will make this area a destination.

Source: "200 GREENWICH STREET / 2 WTC BUILDING FACTS" press release by Silverstein Properties, Inc (PDF) [accessed June 9, 2015]

09
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Envisioning Something There, in Lower Manhattan

Rendering depicts what 2WTC designed by Bjarke Ingels Group would look like from Tribeca, looking south toward Freedom Tower
Rendering of Bjarke Ingels Group 2015 design of 2WTC as seen from Tribeca. Press image © Silverstein Properties, Inc., all rights reserved (cropped)

The 2015 design offered by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) for Tower 2 is stepped blocks, somewhat "two-faced," with the setbacks pointed away from Michael Arad's National 9/11 Memorial pools and the office spaces overlooking the Financial District.

Norman Foster's design put the building's focus inward, toward the Memorial. The architect of the redesigned 2 WTC, also known as 200 Greenwich Street, was intent on bringing the feel of Tribeca to New York's Financial District.

Source: "200 GREENWICH STREET / 2 WTC BUILDING FACTS" press release by Silverstein Properties, Inc (PDF) [accessed June 9, 2015]

10
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Ingels' 2015 Vision for 2 WTC

Publicity rendering of 2015 design for 2 WTC in context with other towers rebuilding Ground Zero
2015 rendering of Towers 1, 2, 3, and 4 Surrounding 9/11 Memorial Park. Press image © Silverstein Properties, Inc., all rights reserved (cropped)

 

The politics of architectural design is striking. The 2015 design came about because media mogul Rupert Murdoch showed interest in becoming a major tenant, which would get 2 WTC off the ground. But why change architects? 

Some say that Murdoch did not want to be confused with newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. In 2006, Norman Foster, the original Tower 2 architect, had completed a huge tower addition to the Hearst Building on 57th Street. There is no way that Murdoch wanted to be confused with the Hearst Empire—one architect per media mogul, please.

Then there was the story of when Norman Foster took over a building project that Bjarke Ingels had begun in Kazakhstan. Ingels was none too happy when Foster + Partners constructed a library on BIG’s foundation. The incident sounds revengefully close to Ingels building on Foster's foundation for Tower 2.

The new design for 2 WTC made sense in a socio-economic way, even if it made little sense as a "better" design. The problem remains, however—Murdoch eventually pulled out of his agreement, which puts construction on hold again. 

What design will eventually win out? It may depend on the anchor tenant who decides to sign on.

Sources: "200 GREENWICH STREET / 2 WTC BUILDING FACTS" press release by Silverstein Properties, Inc (PDF); High Rise by Ian Parker, The New Yorker Magazine, September 10, 2012; Revealed: The Inside Story of the Last WTC Tower's Design by Andrew Rice, Wired, June 9, 2015 [accessed June 9, 2015]