The British architect behind WTC 3 talks to Building about the practicalities and challenges of working on such a colossal project
What was it like working on a project of this magnitude?
Working on the World Trade Center project has been a tremendous experience for us all. I remember the very first meeting when all the different architectural teams came together. Everyone was pulled together into one location – 7 World Trade Center – and prepared to get to work. It was quite a moment.
How did it feel working alongside the other practices in the same building and on the same floor? Was there any rivalry?
Larry Silverstein wanted everyone to adopt a very holistic view of the towers, which I think was a really good thing. There was a great sense of commeradary and collaboration. That’s not to say there wasn’t an initial moment of shock when we realised we would all be working so closely together! On any project there will always be competition and certainly everyone was vying for Larry’s attention a bit. But it was good to have such a high level of shared knowledge in one place.
What has been the biggest challenge of the project so far?
Trying to get the scheme through the City. There are so many layers– planning, the mayor’s office, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the police department. And all of them had slightly different objectives. So it took a while to work through those and get everyone on side.
How was it working for Silverstein Properties?
The project has been extremely well managed. Larry has kept everyone on course. As architects, we were pretty reluctant to be scrutinised quite so much during the early stages of this project, but it really worked. It kept us grounded and we knew exactly what we were expected to deliver at every stage.
Do you think the site can ever be seen in a positive light? Or do you think the tragedy of what happened will always hang over it?
I don’t think those things need to be mutually exclusive. I don’t think the memory of what happened should ever be shaken off or forgotten. But I think the new physical site can still be appreciated and seen positively for what it is. It will become a fantastic site and one that will really rejuvenate the lower section of Manhattan.
Richard Paul is a director with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners