7 World Trade Center
SLEEK, INTELLIGENT DESIGN
7 WTC represents the cutting edge in contemporary architecture and design. The tower has been recognized with many design awards, including the Municipal Art Society of New York's 2006 award for Best New Building and the 2006 Merit Award for Architecture from the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter.
A slender glass pylon marking both the entrance to the WTC and the future of New York's downtown, the new 7 WTC is smaller and more airy than its predecessor. Pulling back from its eastern property line, the tower creates a view corridor to the tip of Manhattan, letting in light that previously had been obstructed.
To create a more vibrant and interconnected neighborhood, 7 WTC architect, David Childs, consulting design partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM), designed a sleeker building, which allows for the re-introduction of Greenwich Street through the WTC site and for the creation of a new neighborhood park. The reduced footprint of the new building lets the historic Manhattan grid resurface by allowing Greenwich Street to extend through the site, thereby uniting Tribeca and the Financial District.
The tower skin is made of floor-to-ceiling clear glass. The taut glass wall is pulled apart at the floor levels, creating a tension in the building surface. The stainless-steel spandrels are modeled to catch reflected sunlight that is colored to match the tone of the sky. The spandrels appear as bright, iridescent bands of reflected color.
JCDA, Schlaich Bergermann and Partners, and SOM developed the cable-net entry wall to be both bomb resistant and energy absorbing. Using proprietary lamination technologies, the cable net is flexible in nature and acts as an energy-damping system that will allow the wall to deflect and diminish the effect of a blast.
The surface of the building is a study in reflected color and light and calibrated to create the illusion of depth. By day, 7 WTC is animated with light, evolving as weather conditions change. By night, it is artificially illuminated with programmed LED projection sequences.
The SOM design team for 7 WTC collaborated with Tribeca designer/artist James Carpenter to develop the podium enclosure and entry cable wall and canopy for the building. A concept for the building's interaction with light was developed as an organizing principle for the design. This resulted in a stainless-steel screen wall conceived by James Carpenter Design Associates to visually support the crystal-like tower above.
The podium wall, approximately 82 feet high, is comprised of two layers of stainless-steel screen with a seven-inch internal cavity to allow for the necessary 50 percent uninterrupted air flow required by Con Edison for its electrical transformers. The stainless-steel screen panels are made of cold-formed triangular prismatic wires orientated vertically and welded in specified patterns and angles of rotation.
The type, spacing, sizing, and orientation of the wires seamlessly achieve the practical and aesthetic requirements of the site, providing a screen that ventilates the transformers while contributing a rich backdrop to the anticipated pedestrian traffic and local cultural activity. This scrim of stainless-steel prisms reflects and re-projects the variable light conditions of the urban site; essentially, the visual activation of the podium surface is a representation of available light. The quality of light animation will follow viewers as they move past and around the building.
At the podium, the optimized porosity of the wall is accentuated at night through the use of LED lighting. These LED fixtures are programmed to create a range of scenes using varying degrees of blue and white light. In addition, there is a video-camera-recognition system linked to the programmable LED lighting. Eight video cameras mounted 60 feet above street level on the north and south elevations track pedestrian movement on the sidewalk below. This system can be programmed to identify the movement of individual pedestrians and display their movement with 80-foot-high vertical bars of colored light inside the podium skin, thereby engaging the public on an urban scale.
The lobby interior has two artistic elements that draw the public's attention. The first element, a luminous ceiling, changes in luminosity and color during the day (white) and at night (blue), creating a subtle yet dramatic interior. The second element is a translucent glass wall set behind the reception desk. The wall, titled "For 7 World Trade," was designed by Jenny Holzer, in collaboration with James Carpenter.
To further complement the kinetic nature of the building's surfaces, the installation features moving text "as big as Manhattan," chronicling the history of the city through historic poems. Holzer, a conceptual artist, created an animated-text installation of prose and poetry that scrolls across a glowing 65-foot-wide, 14-foot-high glass wall behind the reception desk. The work features pieces written by numerous authors - from Elizabeth Bishop and Allen Ginsberg to Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman - whose work evokes the history and spirit of New York City. It takes approximately 36 hours for the entire text to scroll by. The text is fully visible from the park outside the building, creating an animated public setting.
The letters appear in a five-foot-high band of text approximately two-thirds of the way up the high-tech wall, which was created in collaboration with Carpenter. The laminated wall also serves as a security amenity, screening the public from the private precincts of the building and acting as a blast shield.
Two planes of glass are set apart, creating a cavity in which to suspend an LED system. The electronics generate text in a variety of fonts. The scrolling characters appear to float when viewed from the front or the back. The ends of the two offset planes of glass are capped with stainless steel. On the plane facing the lobby, there are 13 panels, each five feet wide. Each panel consists of two layers of acid-etched glass laminated with Sentry Glass Plus. The glass edges are satin polished to cancel any internal reflections created by the diodes.
PUBLIC SPACE and ART
The park at 7 WTC, designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, consists of a central open plaza with a fountain and flanking groves of trees and shrubs. At the center of the park, solid marble benches surround a 30-foot-wide fountain with jets that are recessed to the pavement level. The stone in the main plaza of the park, pietra cardosa, is the same as that in the lobby. To the north and south of the park, the space is framed with linear groves of sweetgum trees planted in wide bands of evergreen azaleas and boxwood shrubs. Between the planting bands are seating areas with garden benches and sculptural flower pots in zinc urns. As the seasons change, so too will the colors in the park, providing a soothing natural complement to 7 WTC.
Featured in the fountain area is a sculpture by renowned artist Jeff Koons, entitled Balloon Flower (Red). The mirror-polished stainless-steel sculpture represents a twisted balloon in the shape of a flower that has been enlarged to monumental scale. Since 1995, Mr. Koons has created Balloon Flower in five versions: blue, magenta, yellow, orange, and red. Balloon Flower was always intended for display in a public place that would allow it to engage the viewer. Its mirror-polished surface is intended to attract onlookers to the piece, at which point their reflected images become part of the work itself. The forms are familiar, but no matter how recognizable they may be to viewers, they will be presented here in a completely new way. Balloon Flower is part of the series known as Celebration, consisting of 20 sculptures and 16 paintings. Many works of Celebration are inspired by a child's playroom: a balloon dog, a mound of Play-Doh, party favors, etc.