At (a much-debated) 1,776 feet high, One World Trade Center represents to many people many things: a beacon of hope and resilience, a collective step forward, an internationally renowned architectural endeavor. There are also doubters and haters, but we'll set them aside for the moment in light of this tender, visually arresting close-up of the tower's construction, in which Time Magazine takes a poetic look at the day-to-day tasks and meaningful milestones experienced by those working on the site. The feature, which aims to capture the emotions of the process rather than focus on all of the controversy surrounding it, is capped off by an interactive 360-degree view from the top of the tower (pictured above, and fully below) as well as a short documentary. Here now, the most thought-provoking quotes from the Time coverage, which is more than worth the read:
1) "The memorial has turned out to be a lovely thing, but what the site still needed was something that climbed, something that spoke to the idea that emotional burdens might not only be lowered into the ground but also released into the air."
2) "No doubt the new building's official dedication will open the way to a necessary debate over its merits as architecture and urbanism, its turbulent design history and the compromises made over the long years it took to get the thing built. But in one important respect, One World Trade Center has already succeeded. It has reclaimed the sky."
3) "The design, almost entirely [David] Childs', called for a 104-story tower that includes a bomb-resistant 20-story base set on 70-ton shafts of steel and pilings sunk some 200 feet into the earth. This unseen subterranean structure would support 48,000 tons of steel — the equivalent of 22,500 full-size cars — and almost 13,000 exterior glass panels sheathing a concrete core crowned by a 408-foot spire whose beacon would glow at the symbolic height of 1,776 feet ... The structure includes enough concrete to lay a sidewalk from Manhattan to Chicago."
4) "One World Trade Center needed to be a public response to 9/11 while providing valuable commercial real estate for its private owners, to be open to its neighbors yet safe for its occupants. It needed to acknowledge the tragedy from which it was born while serving as a triumphant affirmation of the nation's resilience in the face of it."
5) "The early work was time-consuming and labor-intensive. One challenge was to build around the PATH train, a major artery linking New York to New Jersey, without disturbing the infrastructure. The solution, requiring 18 months of planning, was to proceed by hand, without heavy machinery. 'You had people down there with picks and shovels and mini-excavators, maybe digging a foot a night,' says Dan Tishman, chairman of Tishman Construction, which manages construction at the site. 'It was a surgical approach.'"
6) "As they dug into the ground, the crew often came across reminders of why they were there. 'Literally the first thingand I don't exaggerate by saying the first thingwe were digging and we found human remains that were missed,' recalls Steve Plate, the Port Authority's director of construction for the site ... Over the years, some workers found shoes. Others unearthed wallets ... In the early days of excavation, such grim discoveries happened almost daily."
7) "Skyscraper construction is part brute strength, part delicate dance. It starts with a raising gang, which lifts a piece of steel from street level using cranes weighing upwards of 250 tons each. Signalmen guide the pieces toward connectors, who bolt them together while balancing on nearby beams. Dangling in the breeze, the steel can wobble and shake as the crew guides it into position. The trickiest fits sometimes require workers to lie down on adjacent beams, balancing far above the street, often on a slab less than a foot wide."
8) "As the steel structure neared the height of the former towers, the workers realized they were the first people to see that view since 9/11."
9) "By the end of 2012, Jim Melvin's commute had gotten tricky. At about 5 a.m., Melvin, a crane oiler, would leave home to catch the PATH train from New Jersey. Once he reached the site about 30 minutes later, he took the elevator to the 64th floor, then walked to another elevator bank that took him to the 90th. From there he rode a third elevator to the 104th, climbed the stairs to the roof, ascended a 20-foot ladder and hiked nine more exterior sections to his crane. The trip from the ground to the top of 1 WTC took as long as the one from New Jersey to the site."
10) "But he's certain nothing will top this. I'm not arguing, not as we watch airplanes gliding onto ribbons of tarmac at the region's three major airports and not as the Empire State Building watches us watching it and the city looks up expectantly, finally, at something other than empty sky."