A new and long-awaited chapter in downtown Manhattan's resurgence after 9/11 begins next week when the first tower of the 16-acre World Trade Center site officially opens.
At 977 feet, 4 World Trade Center may be dwarfed in comparison with its neighbor, 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet, but the tower's architect said its relatively modest height doesn't diminish its effect on the neighborhood.
Osamu Sassa, the chief architect for the building that opens Nov. 13, said he and his team worked to make sure the structure not only fits in downtown.
"It's nice to build those models and see it on paper but actually standing in it, that's when you get the full effect," he said while giving a reporter a tour of the structure Thursday.
The glass tower, at 150 Greenwich St., is directly across from the Sept. 11 memorial site. Sassa said his team and the building's owner, Silverstein Properties, made sure the facade and lobby complemented the somber site.
There are no exhausts or pipes or other exterior additions on the side of the building that faces the memorial, and the shine of the lobby's black granite walls blends with the memorial's atmosphere, Sassa said.
"You have the memorial on one side of the lobby and on the other, you have its reflection on the walls," he said.
Three interactive art walls in the lobby feature videos of waterfalls, the sky and trees, which are also the artistic themes of the memorial.
"Mr. [Larry] Silverstein was very keen on the idea and wanted the images to change constantly," the architect said.
The building's most impressive feature is its 57th-floor terrace, which offers a panoramic view of Manhattan, western Queens and eastern New Jersey.
Although 4 World Trade Center will be a commercial building closed to tourists, Gianna Frederique, a marketing director for Silverstein, said the developer has rented the terrace for events.
The Municipal Arts Society and the New York City Ballet are among groups that have used the space and interest has boomed, Frederique said.
The marketing director said the idea to host events at the site came from 7 World Trade Center, which is north of the 16-acre site and opened in 2006.
"We didn't think it would be popular for that, but it morphed and everyone wanted to hold events there. The same is happening at 4 World Trade Center," she said.
In addition, a major movie just finished filming on the 57th floor and the producers were impressed with the accommodations, Frederique said.
The building is 50 percent leased to the city and the Port Authority; Frederique predicted other companies would be interested once they see the interior.