(Reuters) - A new complex is taking shape in lower Manhattan on the 16-acre (6.5 hectare) site where the World Trade Center’s twin towers stood until they were destroyed by the September 11, 2001 air attacks.
The land is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is building skyscrapers on the site along with developer Larry Silverstein.
The $14.8 billion (9.1 billion pounds) complex also includes a museum, a memorial, a mass transit hub, and a performing arts centre.
Following is a description of the progress achieved for the main components.
* An above-ground memorial was finished on time for the 10th anniversary last year. It features giant reflecting pools in the footprints of the twin towers, surrounded by bronze panels inscribed with the names of the victims. The plaza with 400 oak trees has been visited by about 4.5 million people since it opened on September 12, 2011.
* An underground museum will include biographies of the nearly 3,000 dead and the historical context of the attacks. The museum will extend seven stories underground, and its displays include firefighters’ helmets, a granite staircase that withstood the attacks and allowed hundreds to escape, and the “Last Column,” which the New York Times likened to a steel shrine due to tributes inscribed by iron workers and victims’ families.
From the plaza, visitors will be able to look down through an atrium on two 70-foot-tall (21 meter) “tridents,” or steel branches, that supported the Twin Towers.
A dispute over cost overruns halted construction of the museum last year and prevented it from being finished in time for the 2012 anniversary ceremony. Work is expected to resume in October, with the museum finished by late 2013 or early 2014. Estimates of its cost range from $700 million to nearly $1.3 billion.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have asked the National Park Service to help manage the National September 11th Memorial & Museum. A bill has been submitted to Congress that would provide $20 million per year for operating costs, which are estimated at $60 million.
* One World Trade Center: The $3.8 billion tower should be the second skyscraper to open - after Four World Trade centre - when it is finished in early 2014, five years behind schedule.
German architect Daniel Libeskind, the site’s master planner, envisioned a twisting “Freedom Tower” whose planned height of 1,776 feet (541 meters) symbolizes the year of U.S. independence. .
The final design by building architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was deemed more practical.
Formerly called the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the most iconic building of the complex.
The 3 million-square-foot office tower is 55 percent leased. Publisher Conde Nast has agreed to take 1.2 million square feet, the federal General Services Administration has leased over 270,000 square feet, and Vantone China has 190,000 square feet.
* Four World Trade Center, one of Silverstein’s three skyscrapers on the site, was topped out at 72 stories in June. The $2 billion office tower will be the first skyscraper on the site to open in October 2013. Designed by Japan’s Maki and Associates, the 975-foot (297-meter) tower will be clad with a metallic mesh and is fully funded with insurance settlements and Liberty bonds, a subsidy Congress created to help revive New York City.
The 2.3 million-square-foot office tower will become the new headquarters of the Port Authority. The Port Authority and New York City have each leased 600,000 square feet.
* Three World Trade Center has been designed by Britain’s Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. It will stand 1,080 feet (329 meters) high and its facade will feature diagonal supports when it opens, planned for late 2014 or early 2015.
Silverstein will first build the tower up to the “podium” level, seven stories high, so that shops can open. To build offices over the stores he must raise $300 million, pre-lease 400,000 square feet (37,161 square meters), and secure $1.3 billion of Liberty bonds and taxable debt. The city, state and Port Authority will each contribute $200 million.
* Two World Trade Center: The design by Britain’s Foster + Partners has a glazed crystalline form and a diamond-shaped summit and will be built only to the street level initially, with completion of the tower depending on securing office tenants, according to Silverstein. When finished, the 1,278-foot-tall (390-meter) tower will have 3.1 million square feet.
* Mass transit hub: The elaborate design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has been repeatedly simplified to cut its cost, which still is expected to hit nearly $4 billion. The hub’s two steel-ribbed wings will spring out from the oculus, a soaring glass roof that will bring natural light to the 250,000 passengers expected to travel through the hub each day. Scheduled to be finished in mid-2015, the hub will interconnect 11 subway lines and the PATH commuter trains that link New York to New Jersey.
Plans for a 1,000-seat theatre to be designed by U.S. architect Frank Gehry have been modified repeatedly. The Joyce Theater of New York City, which presents dance companies from all over the world, plans to occupy the new centre. A new board is reviewing designs, programming and fundraising goals.
Building the centre partly depends on how long it takes for the new mass transit hub to open because it is expected to be built where the temporary home for the PATH train station now stands. That station should be torn down in 2015, allowing the centre to open in 2017 - if not earlier.
Two related projects border the area known as “Ground Zero.”
* Seven World Trade Center: The 52-story, $700 million skyscraper just north of Ground Zero was the first Silverstein building, completed in 2006. The skyscraper is fully leased.
* Five World Trade Center: an apartment building, hotel, or an office building will occupy the site of the former Deutsche Bank building, just south of Ground Zero.
Reporting By Joan Gralla; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer