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Security Concerns Could Force Freedom Tower Design Changes

The Freedom Tower's current design
Courtesy LMDC
Rendering By DBOX

The New York Police Department's security-related concerns about the World Trade Center Freedom Tower’s design may force the building’s developer and architects to rethink their plans.

Bud Perrone, a spokesman for Freedom Tower developer Larry Silverstein acknowledged in a statement dated yesterday that the NYPD had "recently raised new questions," about the Freedom Tower, "which we are now addressing with all our governmental partners."

Silverstein Partners did not reveal the specific date of the interaction, but Perrone said it was some time in the last three weeks. He would not discuss the specific design changes being discussed, citing security concerns. The NYPD could not be reached for comment at this time, while The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the tower’s designers, declined to comment.

The 1,776 foot tower, is now designed with a torquing exoskeleton, an upper structure of tension cables, and an off-center spire meant to evoke the Statue of Liberty. It is planned to contain about 2.6 million square-feet of office space and be completed by late 2008 or early 2009. Significant changes would presumably push this date back some time.

Some regard the tower as an obvious terrorist target. Daniel Benjamin, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, noted in a March, 2004 editorial in the New York Times, that the tower "will become a top target for Islamic terrorists as soon as it is occupied."

Silverstein and SOM have worked on the Tower’s design for well over a year (renderings were first released on December 19, 2003), under the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s safety standards, which Perrone calls "extremely rigorous," and "far exceeding all applicable building codes." The plans unveiled last January included a solid concrete core, with extra support from its top level steel cables and its twisting, diagonal structural grid. Other planned safety elements included extra-strong fireproofing, biological and chemical filters in the air-supply system, and very wide stairways.

Sam Lubell