7 World Trade Center

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At a distance it may not illicit a second glance. However at street level the new 7 World Trade Center, a LEED certified green building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) architect David Childs, is a marvel.

Jenny Holzer, famed for her truisms and large scale word projection installations, created a 65 x 14 foot scrolling text LED display featuring poems about NYC, “with no phrase repeated in eight hours”. It’s a powerful art piece located behind the Lobby’s glass facade which is augmented by a cable net structure meeting government standards for a bomb resistant wall. A massive luminous box above the front desk transforms the lobby into a beacon at night.

Even more fascinating is the building’s podium screen wall, designed by James Carpenter Design Associates in collaboration with SOM. As in the original 7 WTC, Con Edison’s transformers reside in the base of the building, rising eight stories and require “50% uninterrupted air flow” for adequate ventilation. This was accomplished using a double screen of stainless steel prismatic wires. “The front screen prismatic wires have cross-sectional faces that are highly polished, while the inner screen’s prismatic wires have cross-sectional faces that are glass-bead-blasted to diffuse and scatter light. The two wire sizes possess complementary light-reflecting properties and reduce the moire effect generally created by two layers of parallel lines.” Blue and White LED’s are fixed to the front screen of wires, reflecting light off the inner screen wires which are projected back out. A recognition system is capable of tracking the movement of individual pedestrians, rendering “their movement [via] 80′ high vertical bars of blue light inside the podium skin.”

Coinciding with the opening of 7 WTC late last year, Princeton Architectural Press released a well designed hardcover monograph, James Carpenter: Environmental Refractions by Sandro Marpillero. The book includes twenty pages on 7 WTC, showcasing the design progression with construction photographs, a timeline and more. Some of the other gems conveyed in this book include work on the Time Warner Building, Luminous Threshold – a gateway for the Olympic Complex in Sydney and Retracting Screen.


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