225 Liberty Street
World Trade Center (E)
Chambers Street (A/C)
Park Place (2/3)
Cortland Street (N/R)
Fulton Street (4/5)
Vesey Street/North End Ave (M20)
West Street/Liberty Street (M9)
Vesey Street/West Street (X3/X4/X7/X9/X10B)
World Trade Center
This site is included in LMCC’s Creative Insider’s Guide to Lower Manhattan, sponsored by Launch LM.
Built on landfill consisting of materials excavated for the original World Trade Center, the neighboring World Financial Center, now called Brookfield Place, dates to the mid-1980s when Post-Modernism was at its height. The six-building, interconnected 14-acre complex was designed by Cesar Pelli, an Argentine-American architect, who played a major role in the expansion of the Museum of Modern Art in the early 1980s. While the polished granite and mirrored glass facades are somewhat sleek and modern, each tower refers back to a different historical form — a dome, pyramid, stepped pyramid, and truncated pyramid. Such copper shapes stood out distinctly against the minimalist aluminum elevations of the World Trade Center.
Near the center of the complex is where one can find the Winter Garden, a 120-foot-tall steel and glass atrium that brings to mind Victorian-era exhibition halls, train stations, and conservatories. Arranged on two levels, this barrel-vaulted space features rows of palm trees, which flourish beneath a mix of natural and artificial light. As originally conceived, it was part of a sequence of mostly aboveground spaces that extended from the World Trade Center to the Hudson River. Arriving on the upper level of the Winter Garden, one descended the curving marble stairs towards the various shops along the perimeter of the main level, as well as the outdoor plaza. Visible through the arched west wall, this waterfront plaza — one of the first to open on the Hudson — connects the complex to Battery Park City and features a 26-slip marina.
The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center destroyed much of the Winter Garden. Though the adjoining office buildings were not directly hit, falling debris destroyed the north pedestrian bridge and did significant damage to the metalwork and marble. Under Pelli’s supervision, the atrium was rapidly reconstructed and reopened on September 17, 2002. This restored interior would become an important gathering place in Lower Manhattan where press conferences were held, as well as public exhibitions. For instance, more than 100,000 people came to judge preliminary plans for a new World Trade Center in 2002-03. At the time, the lower floors of the east facade were rebuilt with glass and the second floor became a popular viewing platform for watching construction progress.
With the World Trade Center now finally reemerging, the owner has renamed the complex and commenced major renovations. At the east end of the Winter Garden, a new entrance opened in 2013. Designed by Pelli’s son, Rafael, this glassy pavilion opens to West Street and contains escalators that serve the underground passage that reestablishes a direct link between these downtown office developments as well as the PATH station.
– Matthew A. Postal