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Progress at Ground Zero

A year ago, I snapped this picture of the big hole that was Ground Zero five years after 9/11.

The New York Post created this graphic to show what the plans are for the site. According to the article, rebuilding has started in earnest now, with 600 workers on site to have the area completely rebuilt by 2012. See the full-size version here.
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See the progress, after the jump.

Below-ground construction on the Freedom Tower began in April of 2006. As of now, steel beams have been erected around the perimeter, and visible progress should be seen by the spring of 2008. This is what it looked like last month.
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And this is how it will appear when completed. See more pictures at the website of architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.
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The World Trade Center Memorial and Museum will be 30 feet below ground level. 121 of the 150 concrete footings for the memorial have been poured. The design is named Reflecting Absence. When finished, the walls will be waterfalls along the original footprints of the Twin Towers (although 30 feet shorter, for technical reasons). The names of those who died on 9/11 will be included in the memorial.
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7 World Trade Center, which also collapsed on 9/11 was rebuilt beginning in 2002 and completed in 2006. The new building is 52 stories tall (five stories taller than the orginal). This photo is by Aude (cc). You can see it as a bluish building in the background of the picture I took last year.
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The Port Authority has built a temporary train station to be used until 2009, when a new permanent (and artistic) transportation hub opens. Here is what construction looked like this summer. Note the many cranes in use.
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And here's an artist rendering of the entrance to the permanent station.
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Gothamist predicts that the Freedom Tower will open in 2011 whether it's finished or not, to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. When completed, the $16 billion World Trade Center rebuilding project will be the most expensive ever for New York City.

If you'd like to follow the rebuilding in real time, bookmark this live webcam at Ground Zero. There may be outages today, as more than usual traffic is expected for the anniversary of 9/11. There are more anniversary links today at Ursi's Blog.

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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
Buckingham Palace Was Built With Jurassic Fossils, Scientists Find
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iStock

The UK's Buckingham Palace is a vestige from another era, and not just because it was built in the early 18th century. According to a new study, the limestone used to construct it is filled with the fossilized remains of microbes from the Jurassic period of 200 million years ago, as The Telegraph reports.

The palace is made of oolitic limestone, which consists of individual balls of carbonate sediment called ooids. The material is strong but lightweight, and is found worldwide. Jurassic oolite has been used to construct numerous famous buildings, from those in the British city of Bath to the Empire State Building and the Pentagon.

A new study from Australian National University published in Scientific Reports found that the spherical ooids in Buckingham Palace's walls are made up of layers and layers of mineralized microbes. Inspired by a mathematical model from the 1970s for predicting the growth of brain tumors, the researchers created a model that explains how ooids are created and predicts the factors that limit their ultimate size.

A hand holding a chunk of oolite limestone
Australian National University

They found that the mineralization of the microbes forms the central core of the ooid, and the layers of sediment that gather around that core feed those microbes until the nutrients can no longer reach the core from the outermost layer.

This contrasts with previous research on how ooids form, which hypothesized that they are the result of sediment gathered from rolling on the ocean floor. It also reshapes how we think about the buildings made out of oolitic limestone from this period. Next time you look up at the Empire State Building or Buckingham Palace, thank the ancient microbes.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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