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Expert Comment: One World Trade Center, New York opens

New York Monday 10 November 2014

Dr Janet Speake, Principal Lecturer in Geography at Liverpool Hope, looks at the new World Trade Centre building in New York, which opened last week.

The current tallest and most expensive building in the western hemisphere opened for business in Manhattan on Tuesday 3rd November 2014. There was little ceremony and comparatively little media coverage as publishing company Condé Nast, the first commercial occupants of the new 104 storey One World Trade Center, moved in. 

The $3.9 billion skyscraper by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill is both functional and symbolic. Its steel and reflective glass octagonal form narrows to a central spire which mirrors that of the Empire State Building. Its overall height (1,776 feet) symbolises the year of the US Declaration of Independence. 

The immediately adjacent National September 11 Memorial and Museum commemorates the events of 9/11 2001 in which the previous 1 World Trade Center and its twin, 2 World Trade Center, were destroyed. Over the last thirteen years the re-development of this part of Lower Manhattan has been through many phases, and proposals for change have been intensely challenged and contested.   

The new One World Trade Center is far different from the building originally chosen for the site and the design has gone through many iterations, scriptings and re-scriptings. The result is a very tall, imposing yet quite restrained skyscraper that is swiftly becoming a distinctive and evocative feature of New York’s changing cityscape.

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