Ever since construction on 1 World Trade Center surpassed street level and began its skyward march to 1,776 feet, complaints about the tower have (almost) entirely subsided. Despite all the work that took place underground on the 16-acre site, no one seemed convinced all the acrimony of the past few years would ever lead to something actually getting built.
Now another sign of progress is taking shape, as Oregon’s Benson Industries is preparing to ship more than 13,000 glass and steel curtain wall panels to the site. Laid out they would cover almost 1 million square feet, about a third the square-footage of the entire completed tower. The cladding (architect-speak for windows and siding) for the David Childs-designed building will begin going up in the coming months, ahead of the tower’s projected 2014 completion.
This video, which recently turned up on Curbed, may look mundane to the untrained eye, but it has its telling moments–mixed in with all the stilted patriotism. First, it looks like Benson did a pretty good job, more sparkling 7 WTC than palid Goldman Sachs. Second, around the 1:20 mark you can see the unique corner panels that will make up the tower’s unusual champfered facade–a real treat for architecture geeks.
Third, and most importantly, the quality of these panels will most likely determine the quality of the building. One of the most controversial things about 1 WTC is its imposing 200-foot concrete base, meant as a terrorist deterrent. Sadly, it also could function as a people deterrent. Mr. Childs and Larry Silverstein promised to compensate with a prismatic base, more beacon than bulwark. As these first panels go up, not only will they demonstrate continued progress on the tower, but it will also be an opportunity to glimpse whether or not the tower will be a success.