Architect Unveils Details of New Freedom Tower Design

Glass prisms, landscaped plazas and a lighted spire meant to resemble the Statue of Liberty's torch are all included in the latest design of the skyscraper being built to replace the World Trade Center.

Architect David Childs unveiled the new design details of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower Wednesday at an American Institute of Architects ceremony inside 7 World Trade Center, the skyscraper he designed that sits across from ground zero.

Construction began this spring on the Freedom Tower, after a redesign more than a year ago to address concerns it wasn't adequately protected from truck bombs. The building was moved several feet back from the street and made smaller, with a footprint the identical size of one of the twin towers.

Some derided the windowless, 20-story concrete base that security officials sought, saying it resembled more of a bunker than an office building. Architects had originally thought that shimmering metal panels would cover the bottom of the building, but recently decided on 13-foot-high panels that combine triangular glass prisms.

The prisms would create a "wonderful, light, sculptural and I think artistic" effect and make the building appear more open, said Childs.

The glass panels are still being developed.

Security experts have approved of the new panels, which are designed to shatter into tiny particles so they won't cause severe damage if they break, designers said.

Childs said the spire, enclosed in a white, fiberglass sheath that a sculptor is helping to create, would make it more visible from a distance and a landmark similar to the spires on the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building.

Daniel Libeskind, the original architect of the Freedom Tower, initially designed the spire to be off-center on a twisting building meant to resemble the Statue of Liberty. The spire has been moved to the center of the building and remains there, but the new design calls for a pedestal, housing satellite dishes and antennas, that more closely resembles the statue's torch.

The building is to have a 50-foot-high lobby and 69 floors of office space.

Tree-lined plazas would be on all four sides. One entrance would take an estimated 5 million annual visitors to an observation deck, while another would go straight to restaurant space on the higher floors. Visitors could also enter from an underground concourse that connects to more than a dozen train lines.

The Freedom Tower is scheduled to open in 2011.