NEW YORK - New York officials unveiled yesterday a new plan for the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero, saying that the 1,776-foot-tall skyscraper had been redesigned to meet security concerns and would be even more elegant than originally envisioned.
Police refused two months ago to sign off on the building's design, expressing concerns that its base was too close to the sidewalk and could not be adequately protected against a truck bomb attack.
Months of design work had to be modified. And New York Gov. George E. Pataki - who led a July 4 groundbreaking ceremony last year - was embarrassed when critics charged that state officials could have avoided the delay by paying closer attention to security warnings.
"While this was a disappointment, [the designers] didn't resort to wringing their hands," said John Cahill, a top Pataki aide appointed to oversee the building process. "They got back to work."
The result, Pataki said at a Wall Street news conference yesterday, was a building that meets security requirements - the base will be 90 feet back from the sidewalk, instead of 25 feet - and makes "a soaring, iconic statement that will make us all proud."
There are some notable changes in the design by architect David Childs, who planned the original structure: The lobby sits inside the base, a pedestal 200 feet tall, sheathed in concrete, steel, titanium and other blast-resistant metals. And the building's perimeter has been shrunk to 200 feet, mirroring the size of each of the original twin towers.
The new tower has been designed with slanting, tapering sides that come together to form an octagon in the middle of the structure. Above the base will be 69 floors with 2.6 million square feet of office space - an amount equal to the original design.
When the Freedom Tower is completed in 2010, Childs said, it will be the nation's tallest building and one of the world's safest structures. The cost has been estimated at $1.5 billion, although new security features could drive that higher.
Childs said the tower's life-safety systems - including sprinklers, elevators, stairwells and communications equipment - would be protected by a wall of reinforced concrete 3 feet thick. There would be separate stairways for firefighters, as well as biological and chemical filters.
Larry Silverstein, the developer who holds the lease to the 16-acre site, said work on the tower's infrastructure is scheduled to begin next year.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.