Freedom Tower 'bomb-proof'

2005-06-29 19:58

New York - New York leaders unveiled Wednesday a revised, truck bomb-resistant design for the "Freedom Tower" - the soaring skyscraper that will form the focal point of the rebuilt World Trade Centre site.

The modified, more slender version incorporates a 61-metre high building base, which will be draped in a reinforced mixture of stainless steel and titanium, providing a reflective security shield capable of withstanding a major blast.

Eight triangles rise from the base to form a perfect, reinforced octagon at the centre of the structure which culminates in a glass parapet at 456m, the height of the twin towers destroyed on September 11 2001.

An antenna mast will take the building to the symbolic height of 592m and carry a light beacon aimed at evoking the torch held by the Statue of Liberty.

Bureaucratic infighting

"This new design reflects a soaring tribute to freedom and a bedrock commitment to safety and security," said New York governor George Pataki.

Originally conceived by Ground Zero master planner Daniel Libeskind as a symbol of New York City's resilience and resurgence, the Freedom Tower has since become a byword for bureaucratic infighting.

The latest version is the third design in two years and, despite assertions to the contrary, bears little resemblance to the original blueprint.

Under pressure from WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein, Libeskind was forced to collaborate with another architect to refine his design, which was unveiled in December 2003.

Truck bomb fears

In May this year, Pataki ordered Childs to redesign the building again after the New York police department raised concerns that the tower's placement, adjacent to a major Manhattan thoroughfare, made it vulnerable to a truck bomb.

The latest version has the tower set a further 21m back from the highway.

"This spectacular addition to our skyline will be a commanding architectural symbol while addressing the security concerns we face in today's world," said New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Pataki laid the tower's cornerstone on July 4 last year.

The design modifications and other delays mean construction is now scheduled to begin in early 2006, with the building ready for occupancy in 2010.