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Freedom Tower to be redesigned

NYPD had security concerns about 'footprint' at WTC site

From Phil Hirschkorn

Daniel Libeskind
George E. Pataki
Michael R. Bloomberg
New York

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The proposed tallest building in the world, meant to take the place of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, will be redesigned, New York Gov. George Pataki said Wednesday.

"A new design for the Freedom Tower is required," Pataki said, citing security concerns raised in recent weeks by the New York Police Department.

Certain details, such as the 1,776-foot height and the 276-foot spire, are expected to remain, according to an official familiar with the plan.

WTC master site planner Daniel Libeskind originally envisioned the height to symbolize the year of American independence and the spire to evoke the arm of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor.

"The building itself, except for the first 150 to 200 vertical feet, will be the same," said Charles Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land.

A government official said the tower will still be "an iconic building" that "retains some of the concepts" envisioned by Libeskind and the tower's lead architect, David Childs.

Another government official said, however, that "there will be some significant changes."

To conform with police concerns, the building will be set back farther from West Street, a multilane highway that runs along the west side of the 16-acre site.

Instead of 25 feet from the street, the tower will be "three times" as far, Gargano said.

"The base is being redesigned using new security standards," he said. It will have a smaller "footprint" and be more of a square than a parallelogram.

The tower will still occupy the northwest corner of ground zero.

Delayed timetable

The announcement of the redesign came at a meeting attended by Pataki, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, representatives of the police department, rebuilding officials and WTC developer Larry Silverstein.

"We believe that a building that meets the NYPD standards can be built consistent with Daniel Libeskind's master site plan," Pataki said in a statement released after the meeting.

"Larry Silverstein's team will continue to work with the NYPD over the course of the next several weeks. I have no doubt that David Childs will come up with yet another magnificent new design."

Silverstein said the meeting was "extremely productive."

"I am confident that we have a process in place that will allow us to cooperatively address the challenges that lie ahead," a written statement from him said.

Silverstein, who signed a 99-year lease on the trade center six months before it was destroyed, has spent about a third of some $4.5 billion in insurance settlements.

He has projected that the tower's construction would cost about $1.5 billion.

The Port Authority is expected to be the tower's anchor tenant. No one other than the governor has expressed a commitment to relocate offices there.

In Child's model unveiled in December 2003, the torqued glass and steel tower included 60 floors of offices capped by an indoor observation deck and a restaurant.

Wind-harvesting turbines would provide 20 percent of the building's energy.

The tower was to have a concrete core and be encased in a steel cable netting that would brace the building.

Two concourse levels were envisioned with stores and pedestrian access to mass transit.

A 20-ton granite cornerstone was laid last July. Pataki wanted the tower's steel frame to be completed in 2006 and ready for occupancy in 2008. But that timetable is already delayed.

On track to begin construction next year is Reflecting Absence, the memorial to 2,749 people killed at the trade center September 11, 2001, and to six people killed in the truck bombing February 26, 1993, Pataki said.

Reaching for the skies

Even at 1,776 feet, the Freedom Tower might not be the world's tallest upon completion.

The stainless steel Burj Dubai tower, shrouded in mystery as it goes up in the United Arab Emirates, could be taller.

The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were the world's tallest buildings at 1,483 feet until they were surpassed last year by 101 Tower in Taipei, Taiwan, at 1,674 feet.

Canadians claim the 1,815-foot CN Tower in Toronto as the world's tallest freestanding structure.

At the time of their completion in 1973 the World Trade Center's twin towers were the world's tallest at 1,360 feet, but the distinction was brief.

The Sears Tower in Chicago surpassed them one year later -- at 1,450 feet -- and remains the tallest in the United States.

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