The president of World Trade Center Properties talks to Building about the responsibility of overseeing the construction of the different elements on the WTC site
How important has this project been to you?
I live in New York City and I am a New Yorker – so a lot of my heart has gone into this project. And it will continue to. Three thousand people died when the attacks happened and four of them were Silverstein employees. So it means a lot to me.
Did that make it harder to work on the scheme?
No, it didn’t make it harder actually. It was like I was on a mission. I felt a huge amount of drive to do this project, right from the beginning.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
Persuading people that downtown New York would survive this. It was never a universal opinion but when the attacks happened, there were some people who were sceptical as to whether the area could survive as a financial hub. People thought perhaps the area couldn’t bounce back. And in the days and weeks following the attack there were opinions floating around that we should just give up on downtown New York as a business district – that people would never want to go back again. But it has. The WTC site will be a constant reminder of the tragic loss of people but also a site that demonstrates how the City has bounced back.
Janno Lieber is president of World Trade Center Properties