First Rebuilt Skyscraper Opens at World Trade Center Site

The first destroyed skyscraper to be rebuilt since Sept. 11 opened Tuesday, with few tenants but modern features that developers say will be part of all the new office towers to rise at the World Trade Center site.

Developer Larry Silverstein officially opened the 52-story 7 World Trade Center for business by unveiling a bright red sculpture called "Balloon Flower" outside his building and hosting a concert featuring Lou Reed and Suzanne Vega.

"We've come a very long way," said Silverstein, who built the first 7 World Trade nearly 20 years ago and has struggled to rebuild destroyed office space at the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site for more than four years. "What you're looking at today is just the beginning."

The building at 7 World Trade Center was the third to collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, after the twin towers. Like the trade center, it is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and leased by Silverstein.

The shimmering glass tower was redesigned by David Childs, the same architect who designed the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, intended as the symbolic replacement to the trade center. Silverstein, in a renegotiation of his 99-year lease to the towers, agreed last month to shift control of the Freedom Tower and another building to the Port Authority, while retaining control of three other buildings at ground zero.

The trade center site lost well over 10 million square feet (1 million square meters) of office space on Sept. 11, but new tenants haven't been clamoring to return. Silverstein has rented less than a fifth of 7 World Trade's 1.7 million square feet (150,000 square meters).

A Chinese developer, Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co. Ltd., signed a tentative agreement to rent the top five floors. Ameriprise Financial Inc., a spinoff of American Express, and the New York Academy of Sciences plan to move in by fall.

Following recommendations to make high-rises safer and sturdier after the terrorist attacks, the skyscraper adheres to "a set of standards unique to any high-rise office building in America," Silverstein said.

The building is narrower and lets in more sunlight than its original version. It is the first commercial tower to be certified as "green" because it uses less electricity and high-efficiency cooling and heating systems. And it has adopted newer safety standards, with wider stairwells and 2-foot (0.6-meter)-thick concrete walls.