Reviving a New York landmark

December 1, 2002
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When the September 11 attacks brought down the World Trade Center in New York, much of the surrounding architecture was also either destroyed or severely damaged. One such area was the World Financial Center's Winter Garden, which was originally designed in the 1980s by Cesar Pelli & Associates. Earlier this year, the design team at the New York office of Cesar Pelli & Associates, in collaboration with Adamson Associates of Toronto, Canada, was commissioned to help direct the design and redesign of the atrium, which took approximately one year from the attacks to complete.

Due to the collapse of the World Trade Center's north tower, the entire east side of the Winter Garden and the entire north bridge that came into it had been destroyed by debris. The damage continued and diminished the scale to the west. Other damage included that the monumental stair was severely damaged, completely covered in debris from both the World Trade Center and the Winter Garden skylight itself. In addition, much of the paving stone was cracked by heavy debris and the setting bed of the paving stone was critically damaged.

Liberty Marble Inc. of New York began the restoration process in late 2001. They first surveyed the damage in the field and reviewed hundreds of design and shop drawings that had been archived in the 1980s. "The greatest task was replacing the paving stone and the monumental stair stone," said Craig Copeland, of Cesar Pelli & Associates.

Cesar Pelli & Associates worked with the original stone fabricators, Freda srl and Campolonghi Italia [both of Italy], and used two of the original three stones - Fior di Pesco and Rojo Alicante marble. The third stone -Mondrigone - was no longer available, so a replacement had to be selected. Monte Carlo, a darker hue of brown than Modrigone, was selected by the architects due to its immediate availability, and because it's veining and warm color complemented the other marble.

During the selection process for the stone for the stairs as well as other stone used, a meeting including Liberty Marble, the general contractor, a part owner of the property, Cesar Pelli & Associates and Freda srl was held to finalize marble and stone selections, and an aggressive schedule was mapped out in order to meet the September 2002 finish date. While most of the flooring was done in various marbles, Salmon Pink granite from Bragaza Pauliata of the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil, clads some of the Winter Garden walls, and Botticino marble clads the walls at the east end of the Winter Garden. Most of the materials are the same as those used in the original design, with the exception of the Monte Carlo marble and Jet Mist granite flooring, which was introduced to the design at the east entry.

After the selection process, supplier Campolonghi Italia and Freda srl fabricated 60,000 square feet of material required for the project, over a period of 10 weeks. Once the ocean containers arrived at the Winter Garden, the installation began on the main floor at the west entry. Approximately 30 installers from Liberty Marble restored the marble exactly as it had been done in the 1980s, and then the installation continued up through the monumental stairs and to the granite columns and walls beyond the east side of the building. "All paving was on dry pack with a slurry coat applied to the back of all the pavers," said Anthony Pennine, Jr. of Liberty Marble. "Granite wall panels were anchored by stainless steel straps and marble wall panels utilized brass wire with plaster spots."

Though it was an installation that was on a tight schedule, the installation went as planned, with no obstacles. "Amazingly, there were no significant problems [with the installation] encountered," said Pennine. "Many of the workers that originally installed the material back in the mid-80s were back on-site re-installing. They came asking to be part of the re-build. In addition, individual productivity was extremely high due to their determination to complete by September 11."

And due to the aggressive schedule and dedication of all those involved, the doors of the Winter Garden did re-open in September 2002. "The project emerged into an incredible responsibility and opportunity, because the project would become not only a renovation, but a redesign - in the case of the new East Entry," said Copeland. "It became the first new architectural project adjacent to the World Trade Center to be built after September 11, 2001.

"Much of the design reflected a general concept based on optimism - an even more open, bright and transparent architecture than before - especially from the east. The stonework in turn became that much more important, as a complement to the latest design."

World Financial Center Winter Garden, New York, NY

Owner: Brookfield Financial Properties, New York, NY
Design Architect: Cesar Pelli & Associates, New Haven, CT/New York, NY
Architect of Record: Adamson Associates, Toronto, Canada
General Contractor: Turner Construction Co., New York, NY
Stone Suppliers: Campolonghi Italia, Italy
Stone Installer: Liberty Marble Inc., New York, NY

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