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The History of One World Trade Center in 22 Photos

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Today, One World Trade Center—also known as the Freedom Tower—welcomes its first tenants. Here's a brief history of the tower, as told by the photos documenting its planning, construction, special visitors, and grand opening.

1. Artist's Rendering: December 2003

An early rendering of the Freedom Tower, designed by architects David Childs and Daniel Libeskind, was unveiled on December 19, 2003. The new building would stand 1776 feet tall, have twisting sides meant to evoke the Statue of Liberty, and contain 2.6 million square feet of commercial space.

Libeskind, the original architect, was forced to collaborate with Childs, architect of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, at the request of Larry Silverstein, who held the lease on the property. The collaboration was not an easy one, according to Libeskind: "It's not just easy. It's not just a couple of meetings. It's a struggle to create something great." The "exclamation point" on the skyline, Childs said, "must be iconic. Simple and pure in its form, a memorable form, that would proclaim the resiliency and the spirit of our democracy." The design was controversial and would eventually be modified due to security concerns.

2. Laying the Cornerstone: July 4, 2004

Michael Bloomberg (then Mayor of the city) unveiled the cornerstone's inscription with then-Governor George Pataki (rear left) and then-New Jersey Governor James McGreevey (right) at the groundbreaking ceremony for the tower. “Today we take 20 tons of Adirondack granite—the bedrock of our State—and place it as the foundation, the bedrock of a new symbol of American strength and confidence," Pataki said. "Today, we lay the cornerstone for a new symbol of this city and this country and of our resolve in the face of terror. Today we build the Freedom Tower." The cornerstone would eventually be moved in 2006 because of the building's redesign, which made its location obsolete.

3. Updated Design: June 2005

On June 29, 2005, a new Freedom Tower design was unveiled. According to a press release from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the redesigned building featured a cubic base rather than the parallelogram of the original design, and was set back further from the street. The new design measured 200 feet by 200 feet, the same size as the footprints of the Twin Towers:

As the tower itself rises from its cubic base, its square edges are chamfered back, transforming the square into eight tall isosceles triangles in elevation. At its middle, the tower forms a perfect octagon in plan and then culminates in an observation deck and glass parapet (elevation 1362 feet and 1368 feet—the heights of the original Twin Towers) whose plan is a square, rotated 45 degrees from the base. A mast containing an antenna for the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), designed by a collaboration of architects, artists, lighting designers and engineers, and secured by a system of cables, rises from a circular support ring, similar to Liberty’s torch, to a height of 1,776 feet. In keeping with the original design, the entire composition evokes the Statue of Liberty’s torch and will emit light, becoming its own Beacon of Freedom.

4. Construction Begins: April 2006

After two years of delays, construction finally began on One World Trade Center in April 2006.

5. Other WTC Building Designs Unveiled: September 2006

Later that year, Silverstein and architects Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Fuhimo Maki unveiled designs for three new skyscrapers that will eventually replace the buildings destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.

6. and 7. Signing and Raising the First Steel Beams: December 2006

A number of 25-ton steel beams—including one signed by thousands of people—were erected in December 2006, the first vertical construction of the future One World Trade Center.

8. Building the Foundation: September 2008

Two years later, approximately 500 workers were still building the foundation of One World Trade Center.

9. Installing More Steel Columns: August 2009

In August 2009, workers installed the first of 24 large steel columns—each 60 feet long and 70 tons—at the core of the building. They were the largest columns used to date on the structure.

10. A view of the top: November 2010

A view of the top of the One World Trade Center gives some perspective for how far the building came in just a year.

11. The Halfway Point: February 2011

The building hit 52 floors—and the halfway mark in its construction—in February 2011.

12. Hurricane Irene: August 2011

A photographer snapped this photo as the top of One World Trade Center is buffeted by rain from Hurricane Irene on August 28, 2011. The building was located in a mandatory evacuation area, and construction was suspended during the storm. In October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit, Tribeca residents noticed that the building made an eerie whistling sound in the storm's high winds.

13. One World Trade at Night: September 2011

Just days before the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the white lights on One World Trade were switched out for patriotic red, white, and blue illumination.  

14. and 15. The Tallest Building in NYC: April 2012

On April 30, steel workers Jim Brady (right) and Billy Geoghan maneuvered a steel beam into place on the 100th story of One World Trade Center, making it the tallest building in New York City. Reporters and photographers got to check out the view from the 90th story.

16. and 17. The Spire Arrives: December 2012

On December 11, 2012, nine sections of the tower's 408-foot tall steel spire arrived on a barge on the Hudson River.

18. The view from the 100th Story: April 2013

Media toured 1WTC's observation deck in April 2013.

19. The last section of the spire is hoisted into place: May 2013

Just one month later, the last 75-foot section of the building's spire was lifted into place. You can watch a timelapse video of the event here.

20. Named the Tallest Building in North America: November 2013

In November 2013, One World Trade Center was officially named the tallest building in North America, stealing the title from Chicago's Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower).

21. The Harlem Globetrotters Take a Tour: February 2014

On February 12, 2014, the Harlem Globetrotters—including Jon "Hawk" Thomas—visited the 100th floor of One World Trade Center, where they gave away 104 tickets to represent the 104 floors of the building.

22. The Building Opens for Business: November 2014

Media company Conde Nast—One World Trade's first tenant—moved in today.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
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This Just In
For $61, You Can Become a Co-Owner of This 13th-Century French Castle
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images
Guillaume Souvant, Getty Images

A cultural heritage restoration site recently invited people to buy a French castle for as little as $61. The only catch? You'll be co-owning it with thousands of other donors. Now thousands of shareholders are responsible for the fate of the Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers in western France, and there's still room for more people to participate.

According to Mashable, the dilapidated structure has a rich history. Since its construction in the 13th century, the castle has been invaded by foreign forces, looted, renovated, and devastated by a fire. Friends of Château de la Mothe-Chandeniers, a small foundation formed in 2016 in an effort to conserve the overgrown property, want to see the castle restored to its former glory.

Thanks to a crowdfunding collaboration with the cultural heritage restoration platform Dartagnans, the group is closer than ever to realizing its mission. More than 9000 web users have contributed €51 ($61) or more to the campaign to “adopt” Mothe-Chandeniers. Now that the original €500,000 goal has been fulfilled, the property’s new owners are responsible for deciding what to do with their purchase.

“We intend to create a dedicated platform that will allow each owner to monitor the progress of works, events, project proposals and build a real collaborative and participatory project,” the campaign page reads. “To make an abandoned ruin a collective work is the best way to protect it over time.”

Even though the initial goal has been met, Dartagnans will continue accepting funds for the project through December 25. Money collected between now and then will be used to pay for various fees related to the purchase of the site, and new donors will be added to the growing list of owners.

The shareholders will be among the first to see the cleared-out site during an initial visit next spring. The rest of the public will have to wait until it’s fully restored to see the final product.

[h/t Mashable]

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Plantagon
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environment
How This Underground Urban Farm in Stockholm Will Heat the Building Above It
Plantagon
Plantagon

In just a few months, an emerging startup in Stockholm will attempt to change how urban farmers think about sustainability—and how building owners can benefit from being eco-friendly. A Swedish company called Plantagon is expected to open a basement farm under a 26-floor office tower in the city without paying a cent in rent.

How? If all goes according to plan, the heat from the LED lights helping to nourish the plants will be vented to the rest of the building, covering heating costs that are nearly three times the amount the building’s owners would charge to lease the space.

The recycled energy is part of Plantagon’s plan to alter the landscape of urban farming. According to Fast Company’s Adele Peters, the company—which is soliciting a round of capital on the Swedish crowdfunding site FundedByMe—is looking to provide a model for farmers to host and distribute their greens while minimizing overhead. Some of the produce will be sold directly to office workers above the farm, including two restaurants; Plantagon also plans to open a store in the building as well as sell goods to nearby dealers that won’t require fossil fuels to transport.


Plantagon intends to open 10 more farms in Stockholm and one “plantscraper” (the concept art for which is shown above) that will provide food on multiple floors while subsidizing costs with tenants on others floors. Eventually, Plantagon might even be able to sell its additional heat from the farms into citywide channels to further support the cost of doing business. 

[h/t Fast Company]

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