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Skyscraper reaches milestone at WTC site

Adorned with U.S. flag, final beam installed on 52-story building

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN New York Bureau

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg watches the last steel beam placed at 7 World Trade Center.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg watches the last steel beam placed at 7 World Trade Center.
New York
September 11 attacks

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The steel frame of the first skyscraper to replace one of the seven Lower Manhattan buildings destroyed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was completed Thursday.

The last steel beam of the 52-story building to replace what was known as 7 World Trade Center was placed at the top of the 750-foot tower in an afternoon ceremony attended by New York Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and several hundred construction workers.

The beam was adorned with an American flag.

"Three years after terrorists brought down 7 World Trade Center, our strength and resolve is putting it back up," Bloomberg said.

Construction has been under way for two years, and the building is slated to be ready for occupancy at the end of next year.

It rises across the street from the northern end of the 16-acre WTC site where the Twin Towers stood.

No. 7 WTC was the last of the complex's buildings to be built in the 1980s, and was the last to collapse on September 11 after burning for seven hours.

The former 47-story office building was developed by Larry Silverstein. He is building the replacement 7 WTC and has been chosen to develop the iconic Freedom Tower, the planned 1,776-foot structure planned as the centerpiece of the rebuilt Ground Zero.

The architect of both buildings is David Childs, who is collaborating with WTC master site planner Daniel Libeskind on the Freedom Tower, which is expected to be completed in 2008.

The narrower, new 7 WTC, which could yet be renamed, will include 1.6 million square feet of office space with a 45-foot high lobby with a glassy facade to let in light. It is estimated to cost $700 million.

The first 10 floors will be occupied by a Con Edison power substation replacing one that was there before.

The building, which is still looking for tenants, will include enhanced safety features such as thicker fireproofing, wider emergency exit stairwells and an internal antenna system for first-responder communications.

"This building will set new standards in safety, efficiency and environmental sensitivity," Pataki said. "This building, like all of our efforts in Lower Manhattan, show that New York has the courage to rebuild and the commitment to honor the heroes we lost."

Construction on a memorial to the 2,749 people killed in New York in the September 11 attacks is to begin in 2006.

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