Near Ground Zero, one cannot help but notice the collection of buildings that comprise the World Financial Center. Located directly across the street from the original World Trade Center complex, these structures rose a few years later on landfill that was created with the excavation of the Twin Towers.
World Financial Center, New York City
The original plan called for creating a late twentieth-century version of Rockefeller Center, a new community that would be self-sustaining with its own schools, shops and restaurants. It would also provide new housing for those that would soon be working in the new towers, and it would open up a magnificent riverside promenade that would take advantage of the stunning sunsets and bring much-needed nightlife to an area that previously closed down after sundown.
Designed in 1985 by architect Cesar Pelli and completed in 1988, the towers that make up the Center are excellent examples of Post-modernist architecture in that they combine new ideas with traditional forms. The four towers, ranging from 33 to 54 stories, provide eight-million square feet of office, retail and public space on fourteen acres of land in the center of Battery Park City. Four stocky, polished granite-and-glass towers are topped with geometrically shaped crowns, each one identifying their owners: a dome for Merrill Lynch, a solid pyramid for American Express, a cut pyramid (or mastaba) for Dow Jones and Oppenheimer and a solid pyramid for #3 World Financial Center.
The luxurious lobbies feature polychromatic marble and shiny black columns. The soaring Winter Garden (120 feet high) is a glass-enclosed greenhouse pavilion that is comprised of 2,000 panes of glass, sixteen 40-foot tall Washington palm trees and 60,000 square feet of tricolor Italian marble. Free music, dance and theatrical recitals are frequently held here. A glass wall on the west side, which formerly served as a major entryway for the World Trade Center, now offers a sobering view of Ground Zero.
Approximately 35 specialty shops and restaurants overlook an outdoor waterfront plaza with spectacular views of New York’s Hudson River. The guardrail along the marina¹s edge features the words of Walt Whitman and Thomas O’Hara.
Having sustained major damage after the attacks of September 11, the World Financial Center is finally back to full operation.