One World Trade Center (also known One WTC or Freedom Tower) is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City. Now touted as the tallest building in the United States, One WTC is also now the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and the 7th tallest building in the world. To pay homage to the original World Trade Center destroyed in the terrorist attaks of September 11, 2001, the skycraper has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center.

The building’s architect is David Childs of the firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). After six years of construction, the tower’s steel structure was topped out on August 30, 2012 and on May 10, 2013, the final component of the skyscraper’s spire was installed, making the building, including its spire, reach its final height. Of no coincidence, the total height of 1,776 feet (541 m) is a deliberate reference to the year when the United States Declaration of Independence was signed. The building officially opened on November 3, 2014 and the One World Observatory opened on May 29, 2015.

A Building Made of Steel

According to the World Trade Center’s website, it took approximately 50,000 tons of steel in total to build the Freedom Tower. The first awarded structural steel contract in 2006 was to a Luxembourg-based company which produced the 805 tons of steel needed to create the first 27 “extra-large” steel columns of the tower. Serving as the steel for the below-grade infrastructure, the steel columns support the skyscraper’s superstructure perimeter columns. Total height of the substructure columns are 75 to 85 feet, and rise above sidewalk level about 15 feet. Interesting fact: Despite being one of the smallest countries in the world, Luxembourg is a heavy-weight in terms of steel production. Historically, the presence of rich iron ore reserves in the south and the use of modern techniques makes steel producing and processing a booming sector for the country.

Sustainable Architecture

One World Trade Center has been recognized as one of the most environmentally sustainable skyscrapers in the world, having received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. Much of the building’s structure and interior is built from recycled materials, including gypsum boards and ceiling tiles and approximately 80 percent of the tower’s waste products are recycled. The building has a rainwater collection and recycling scheme for its cooling systems and is heated by steam, with limited oil or natural gas utilities on-site. The building’s PureCell phosphoric acid fuel cells generate 4.8 megawatts (MW) of power, and its waste steam generates electricity, while also using off-site hydroelectric and wind power. The windows are made of an ultra-clear glass, allowing for maximum sunlight to pass through, while the interior lighting is equipped with dimmers that automatically dim the lights on sunny days, further reducing energy costs.

One World Trade Center is part of a larger complex called World Trade Center and includes a Memorial Park, a Performing Arts Center, Buildings 2, 3, 4 and 7 and a stunning Transportation Hub — designed by Santiago Calatrava that features direct, weather-protected access to 12 subways & PATH trains and most of the City’s bus and ferry lines. The Hub, called the Oculus, is a soaring gateway that makes a grand entrance to an all new City. Check out the METALCON Blog post that featured the Calatrava building.

Just as “time stood still” that fateful day 19 years ago, we hope you will take a few moments today to pause and reflect on not only the lives lost, but also for the countless and courageous first-responders and civilians who did what they could to help. A testament to the strength, resiliency and pride of our country.

Sources:, Wikipedia,

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