Architect Presents New Design for Freedom Tower

Left, an artist's rendering released by the architects shows the latest design of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower. It is intended to evoke the Statue of Liberty's torch, and the spire topping the tower features a beacon. Right, a detail shows the base of the Freedom Tower's museum-style steps, sweet gum trees and thousands of glass prisms covering the building's windowless concrete base.
Left, an artist's rendering released by the architects shows the latest design of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower. It is intended to evoke the Statue of Liberty's torch, and the spire topping the tower features a beacon. Right, a detail shows the base of the Freedom Tower's museum-style steps, sweet gum trees and thousands of glass prisms covering the building's windowless concrete base. (Associated Press)

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By Michelle García
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 29, 2006

NEW YORK, June 28 -- Designers presented on Wednesday new plans for the 1,776-foot-high Freedom Tower, a glass tower that would be the world's tallest building and would fill the void left by the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center nearly five years ago.

The new design, by architect David Childs, attempts to address criticism that initial plans had the glass tower appearing to be mounted on a concrete bunker. The tower sits on a 186-foot concrete base, added at the urging of New York police experts to protect against truck bombs, that in the new design is shrouded by layers of glass.

"I wanted a glass building to be open and transparent," Childs said.

Rebuilding at Ground Zero has come in fits and starts, and with a flurry of design tweaks.

The new plans for the Freedom Tower follow plans released last week for a memorial and museum, which were reworked to rein in costs.

In May, the price tag for the memorial was nearly $1 billion. Political leaders balked at the cost and appointed a developer to work with architect Michael Arad to cut the cost to $500 million.

The World Trade Center Memorial Foundation has raised $131 million of its goal of $250 million to cover construction costs. City and state agencies will cover some of the infrastructure costs, but the budget is still $50 million short.

The multiple redesigns, high costs and other disputes have hampered fundraising.

Contributors "want clarity, and we haven't been able to give it to them," said Debra Burlingame, a director of the foundation.

While the foundation searches for donors, the Freedom Tower's future hinges on expected insurance proceeds, which are being litigated.

The tower, scheduled for completion in 2011, still lacks potential tenants. The state is courting the federal government to relocate some agencies there, including the New York offices of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the FBI.

"Everything hangs by a hair," said David Dyssegaard Kallick of the Fiscal Policy Institute. "If the government tenants don't come through, if the proceeds turn out to be less . . . could really throw this deal off."

Researcher Rena Kirsch contributed to this report.


© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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