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7 World Trade Center Opens with Musical Fanfare

Silverstein proclaimed 7 WTC officially open
Silverstein proclaimed 7 WTC officially open

Exactly four years to the month since construction began, 7 World Trade Center (250 Greenwich Street) opened on Tuesday, May 23rd, with a grand public concert outside its front doors.

The concert and opening ceremony celebrated the completion of one of the world's safest and "greenest" towers, and spotlighted the determination of owner Silverstein Properties to build the tower on schedule and on budget.

 Artist Koons (L) helped cut the ceremonial ribbon
Artist Koons (left) helped cut the ceremonial ribbon
The kickoff began with a welcome ceremony in the new triangular park to the east of the building, wherein acclaimed New York artist Jeff Koons's bright red, stainless-steel sculpture "Balloon Flower" now serves as the centerpiece.

"More than 3,000 dedicated, hard working and brilliant men and women helped make this day possible, and I thank each and every one of them," said developer Larry Silverstein. "7 World Trade Center is much more than the newest office tower in New York -- it is a symbol of the city's resilience and spirit. We have reclaimed an important part of the downtown skyline, and in doing so, we have set new standards in environmental quality, life safety, and innovation."

Silverstein was joined by the building's architect, David Childs, who also is designing the Freedom Tower with his team from Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. Port Authority Executive Director Kenneth Ringler and construction manager Dan Tishman also spoke at the ceremony.

A concert produced by local impresario Michael Dorf followed the speeches, with performers Suzanne Vega, Citizen Cope, Bill Ware Vibes, Brazilian Girls, Ollabelle, Pharaoh's Daughter, Ronan Tynan of the Irish Tenors, and special guest Lou Reed.

Work on the 52-story 7 WTC began in May 2002, in advance of work at the main WTC site because it is governed by its own ground lease. Work also was expedited because the tower's lower 11 floors house a Con Edison electrical substation that supplies power to downtown neighborhoods.

The building's first tenant is Silverstein Properties, which now occupies the tower's 38th floor, filling out 40,000 square feet. Other signed tenants are the New York Academy of Sciences and Ameriprise Financial -- which will take 40,000 and 20,000 square feet respectively -- and Beijing Vantone, which is now building out the tower's top five floors.

To help welcome its neighbors, the building has hosted several community and private events in recent months, including a fundraiser for nonprofit group Wall Street Rising, an awards ceremony for the Municipal Art Society, and New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's recent hearing on the status of Lower Manhattan and WTC redevelopment.

 Singer Suzanne Vega took the stage for a concert
Singer Suzanne Vega took the stage for public a concert
Additionally, Silverstein has transformed the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill-designed "model office" on the 25th floor into a unified office for the three architects now designing three new WTC towers. They are Lord Norman Foster for Tower 2 at 200 Greenwich Street; Lord Richard Rogers for Tower 3 at 175 Greenwich Street; and Fumihiko Maki for Tower 4 at 150 Greenwich Street. Together, those three towers will total 6.2 million square feet of commercial real estate by 2012. By situating the three architectural teams in one space, Silverstein aims to cultivate collaboration and complementary designs, particularly in time for the Port Authority's September 20th deadline for a definitive WTC-rebuilding plan.

The $700 million 7 WTC is home to several design and technological innovations. It is the city's first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certified "green" building for its energy-conserving façade, rainwater-collection system, recycled-content building materials, and pollution-control measures.

The tower also is considered one of the country's safest office buildings for its long list of life-safety features, which far surpass current building codes. For example, elevators, utilities infrastructure, and exit stairs are encased in the vertical core, made of two-foot-thick concrete walls that rise through the center of the building. It has twice the required water-storage capacity for the sprinkler system and pressurized ventilation to filter out air contaminants.

The building also features redundancy in the steel frame, super fireproofing material, wider and better-lit stairs, more ground-level exits, emergency generators, and a redundant emergency command center.

Tribeca-based architect James Carpenter designed 7 WTC's one-of-a-kind lighting program, which consists of the "water-clear" glass façade that transmits more natural light to the building's interior and rejects outside heat energy, while reflecting different sky and cloud patterns on its "active skin." Carpenter also designed the double-layered, stainless-steel "screens" around the building's lower floors to allow optimal ventilation for the four 80-megawatt Con Ed transformers inside.

Carpenter's innovations extend to the context of the neighborhood with interactive features. Among them are motion sensors on the peripheral sidewalks that change the podium's lighting to correspond with passersby. Inside the lobby, lighting actively changes by day and night using the LED-radiant "locking block" of light and complements the animated-text installation created by artist Jenny Holzer.

The new 7 WTC replaces the original tower, which was the last to collapse on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. The new tower's footprint is smaller than the original's to accommodate the return of Greenwich Street through the WTC site. And with the downtown business and residential community top of mind, Silverstein built a new park in the triangular space the street layout created as a gift to the city. There, benches, trees, and a fountain bring a modest, welcome respite amid existing and future downtown skyscrapers.

More information about 7 World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower, and other WTC buildings can be found at www.wtc.com.

Related Links

Slide Show: 7 World Trade Center
7 WTC Officially Becomes "Green"
Behind the Power of Lower Manhattan
The Active Brilliance Behind 7 World Trade Center
7 WTC's Core Female Laborer Rises to the Occasion
Silverstein Spotlights 7 WTC for Future Tenants
Topping Out at 7 World Trade Center
Lord Foster Hired to Design WTC's "Tower Two"
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