A key beam is set up at new Trade Center

N.Y. governor attends ceremony to place steel that supports office space

December 12, 2003|By Christian Murray | Christian Murray,NEWSDAY

NEW YORK - The final shape of the new World Trade Center might still be in doubt, but one part of the complex started going up yesterday.

The first steel beam that will support the weight of office space was erected yesterday at 7 World Trade Center, marking the formal start of reconstruction in the wake of the terrorist attack.

"Seven World Trade Center was the last building to go down, and it will be the first building to go up," said Gov. George E. Pataki during a ceremony at the site.

The building burst into flames Sept. 11, 2001, after it was hit by rubble from the Twin Towers. It collapsed seven hours later.

Larry Silverstein, the leaseholder of the site, said the building's steel will be topped out by the end of 2004, with completion by the end of 2005.

Pataki, Silverstein and the building's architect, David M. Childs, signed the white beam, while throngs of workers in blue hard hats asked them to sign their construction hats. A large crane dropped down and picked up the beam amid the wind and rain.

Hanging below the beam, an American flag was draped, made by craftsmen in Afghanistan to mark Sept. 11.

The beam was headed for the 11th floor, where the first office tenants will rent space. The first 10 floors, already partially built, will house transformers for a Consolidated Edison substation that will supply electricity to much of lower Manhattan.

"David Childs knows how to build high-class expensive buildings," Silverstein said, calling it the most costly building built in the United States.

The remark about Childs underscored one reason Silverstein has insisted Childs take over the lead role from Daniel Libeskind, who won the competition to design the trade center despite having less experience with skyscrapers.

The two architects, whose relationship has been testy, are now collaborating on the design of the main tower, which is expected to soar to a world-beating 1,776 feet.

Libeskind wasn't left out of the proceedings altogether - he attended and signed the first beam. "We thank you for your vision," Pataki told him.

Pataki later noted that Childs and Libeskind have one more week to come up with the design of the Freedom Tower.

There are "two strong minds and two strong personalities," he said.

After the event, Childs acknowledged that the design for the top of the so-called Freedom Tower is likely to change from Libeskind's original model.

"It won't have a glass top," he said. It is likely to incorporate windmills and open air, he said, adding, "It's important to utilize new energy-saving technologies and safety standards."

In 2002, Silverstein estimated the cost of the 52-floor 7 World Trade Center would be $700 million.

A spokesman for Silverstein would not update that number yesterday.

Newsday is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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