20 Years After 9/11, a Still-Unfinished WTC

Construction continues on 2 skyscrapers, church, performing arts center at World Trade Center site
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 10, 2021 1:41 PM CDT
20 Years Later, the Ground Zero Build Continues
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, center, nearing completion, is seen Wednesday at the World Trade Center in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Two decades after its destruction in the Sept. 11 attacks, the work to rebuild the World Trade Center complex remains incomplete. Two planned skyscrapers, a performing arts center, and a church are still unfinished at the site, which plays host Saturday to the annual ceremony honoring nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks, per the AP. Although cranes and construction fences can still be seen around the site, visitors to the commemoration will find a place that no longer has the feel of a construction zone, even as the work continues. The memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools opened in 2011. One World Trade Center—the spire originally known as the Freedom Tower—opened in 2014, as did the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. An underground transit hub and shopping mall opened in 2016. Three other glassy towers built to replace those lost in the attack are open. Here's a look at the unfinished work:

  • 2 World Trade Center: Planned as the second tallest skyscraper at the site, 2 World Trade Center might someday reach 80 stories. But for now, just a low stump of a building exists as a placeholder, covered with colorful graffiti-style murals at the northeast corner of the Trade Center site. Developer Larry Silverstein has said he wants to sign an anchor tenant for the tower before starting construction.
  • Performing arts center: After years of delays, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center is under construction just to the west of 2 World Trade Center's future site and is scheduled to open in 2023. Once finished, the arts center's top floor will house a flexible set of spaces that can be configured into one, two, or three theaters for drama, dance, film, and music. Free performances will take place on a small stage on the lobby level.
  • Greek Orthodox church: The long-delayed construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, replacing the only house of worship destroyed in the attacks, is now proceeding briskly after years of delays. The building, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is going up near the southeast corner of ground zero and will look down on the memorial plaza from a perch atop another building that holds the entrance to the World Trade Center's underground garage.
  • 5 World Trade Center: Construction has yet to begin on the 900-foot tower that will replace an office building, occupied by Deutsche Bank, that was damaged and contaminated by debris from the collapsing twin towers. The original building was demolished between 2007 and 2011, a job that came with its own tragedy: Two firefighters died in the building during a 2007 fire. "We expect if everything goes according to plan that that building should be complete within about five years," a Silverstein Properties' exec says.
(More World Trade Center stories.)

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