A decade ago, New York lost one of it’s most distinctive landmarks, but over the last few months, a new skyscraper – originally called Freedom Tower, but now the less political, 1 World Trade Center – is starting to rise above the skyline, phoenix-like at the rate of a new floor every week. With 1,100 construction workers, and round-the-clock activity, the new structure already stands 80 stories high and by January 2014 will have 104 and a total elevation of 1,776 feet (that’s 541 metres, but the measurement in feet is evocative of the year of the American Declaration of Independence).
To mark the rejuvenation of the area as a business district, the district’s four new towers will become home to the offices of law firms, media and entertainment agencies, financial companies, and so on. When it comes to office space in 1 World Trade Centre, Tara Stacom, vice chairman of property firm Cushman & Wakefield says it’s the, "most important building in the western hemisphere – it's going to be the coolest, hippest place to work and live."
The other three towers have been designed by Lord Norman Foster (also known for London’s 30 St Mary Axe, aka ‘The Gherkin’), Lord Richard Rogers (Terminal 4 of Madrid-Barajas Airport) and Fumihiko Maki (the Pritzker Prize for Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium).
Across the pond, the last eighteen months have seen the slow ascension of the Shard in London. With its 72 stories, it has so far reached of the planned 1,017 feet (310 metres). Although it lacks a similarly resonant history to 1 World Trade Centre, the Shard will however achieve a similar dominance over its home city’s landscape. The building will contain a viewing gallery and open-air observation deck on the top floor, offering unparalleled views of the London skyline.
Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the Shard will be entirely clad in glass and follows an irregular triangular shape, narrowing as it rises; explaining one of its other names, ‘The Shard of Glass’.
Two capitals cities. Two tallest buildings.