Norman Foster’s Design for Two World Trade Center Will Get A New Redesign, in Lower Manhattan

Foster's 200 Greenwich, composite by Jose Hernandez for YIMBY, image originally by Joe Woolhead

Exciting and long-awaited news has been announced in the Financial District, as a return to the original architect for Two World Trade Center has been confirmed. The New York Post reports that Norman Foster’s original 2006 supertall proposal, aka 200 Greenwich Street, is getting another shot at becoming a reality with a more updated design. In 2018, YIMBY was the first to indicate this was a possibility in an interview with Larry Silverstein, head of Silverstein Properties, who said Foster’s vision was still on the table, although at that point the Bjarke Ingels design was the apparent lead contender for construction.

The World Trade Center with Foster’s diamond-topped supertall in the middle, image by DBOX

The final segment in the redevelopment of the 16-acre site has been stalled since the early 2010s, and was subsequently redesigned by Bjarke Ingels of BIG. News that the Danish architect would lead the project was announced in 2015, and his striking and monumental stack of giant glass blocks would be publicly revealed the following June. The BIG version was a far cry from the elegant diamond-topped concept Foster had envisioned, which was designed to point directly downwards at the two reflecting pools of the 9/11 Memorial, synchronizing with the rest of the site’s architecture. A potential deal with 21st Century Fox and News Corp. fell through later in 2016, as media giant Rupert Murdoch decided to stay in his current Midtown headquarters on Sixth Avenue, halting plans for the redesign.

The main issue for the delay of Two World Trade Center is finding an anchor tenant. Silverstein wants to focus on filling up the current office skyscrapers he owns, particularly Three World Trade Center, before moving on with Two WTC. So far, the foundations are complete, along with portions of the ground floor, which is only being used on an entrance to the Westfield mall, PATH station, and nearby subways. Murals spray painted by commissioned local artists on columns, corrugated sheets of metal, and walls attract millions of tourists that walk by the site all year round and offer a colorful backdrop for selfies and Instagram posts.

2 World Trade Center, designed by Norman Foster of Foster + Partners. Black and white drawing by Michael Young

The site for 2 World Trade Center (bottom) and the rising Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (middle) from late 2019, photo by Michael Young

3 World Trade Center (left) opened Jun 11, 2018, photo by Michael Young

3 World Trade Center (left) opened on June 11, 2018, photo by Michael Young

Foster’s original design would have risen 79 stories high, standing 1,350 feet tall, which is just 18 feet below the rooftop parapet of One World Trade Center. Within, there would be just under three million square feet of rentable office space.

Above the World Trade Center in the summer of 2019. Photo by Michael Young

YIMBY will be on the lookout for any new renderings and announcements in the future.

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21 Comments on "Norman Foster’s Design for Two World Trade Center Will Get A New Redesign, in Lower Manhattan"

  1. They are returning to the original architect, not the original plans. This is a third iteration and will not necessary have any relationship with the first iteration.

    • Yes, the NY Post story says the Foster design for 2 World Trade will be “significantly changed” to reflect more contemporary ideas.

    • Unfortunately YIMBY didn’t look past the headline of the NYP story before breathlessly banging out this blog post. Look elsewhere for journalistic integrity.

      Anyway, I’m tentatively optimistic that this will be better than the BIG design. If they retain any semblance of the crown and the 1362′ height we should be good.

      • Did you mean journalistic quality because NY YIMBY’s integrity is not really an issue? Anyway, while there are plenty of sites out there that cover NYC development, I prefer this one because it is not full of ads.

      • The Post story is negligibly different from the YIMBY one, so I don’t know what you’re banging on about with “journalistic integrity” and all.

        “…we should be good.” ? Really? The whole WTC development has been valued engineered, so is it really “good” now? Frankly, it’s boringly “safe” and perhaps needs to be given the history of the site.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if 2 WTC was a replica of 1 WTC? A new version of Twin Towers

  3. Expect a heavy focus on value engineering and a possible drastic height cut.

  4. Great news. No more stack of child’s building blocks.

  5. I believe it’s a lack of imagination that leads back to the Foster design. Ingels’s design is far more appropriate for the site. When I first saw it, I saw not a “stack of boxes” but a staircase, rising into the heavens. Situated beside the new 1 WTC it evoked the heroic stair of the FDNY and first responders, 9//11. My brother was one of those who perished that day. Rising at that site it would be a magnificent commemoration of the heroism and sacrifice of 9/11

    • Your brother was a true hero. The Foster design intended for the building to slant toward the memorial, in deference to it. Also, if I remember, Liebskind’s concept for the site was that direct sun shines on the the fountains every year 9-10 AM on 9/11.

    • I’m sorry but I disagree. The BIG design was a monstrosity and would have completely ruined the skyline and new Trade Center. It looked like a stack of blocks about to topple over.

  6. I agree, the BIG design was much better than the original Foster design. The original Foster design looks straight out of 1995, and doesn’t fit with the other towers anymore, given their design revisions. Hopefully the new Foster retains the bulk and skyline presence of the BIG design.

  7. It seems that no matter what they decide on, the Trade Center redevelopment will look like downtown Dallas threw up in downtown New York.

  8. I just want 2 WTC built, period. At a parapet height of at least 1,350, preferably more. With the economy being great – NYC seeing lots of supertall construction (yes, I know mostly Midtown), I don’t understand why 2 WTC remains sleeping. Just build the damn thing.

  9. In all fairness, the new trade center isn’t anything to look at, just like the old one. Being its the PA we got a relatively lame group of buildings (mostly 1 wtc) with little character. The only building with a decent look I thought was 2 wtc (both designs) and with that design probably going by the way side we’ll likely get another turd wrapped in glass. The only thing special about the new trade center is the beautiful memorial and museum. Other than that it’s just another dev complex…

  10. William Goodhart | January 22, 2020 at 8:12 am | Reply

    Well! I’m surprised by the vituperative comments here, but can’t help but agree that I don’t think the buildings now have any real distinction. But Lord Foster’s original design had some grace to it – and the hunger for an anchor tenant like Fox Corp that forced a redesign because Fox didn’t like the original design shows, perhaps, the wisdom now of waiting to find that “anchor tenant” first. Which props this question: is Foster et al redesigning for any tenant? Or just redesigning for the heck of it?

  11. What really would of been good if the oculus was where the 2wtc base is and they built 2 wtc 6 feet shorter then 1 wtc 1362 feet with no antenna and an outdoor viewing deck at top. This way the master plan still surrounds the memorial and you get the somewhat diagonal look that the original towers had. Although the north south appearance would be further apart. I think this would have been the best solution to please most getting a similar look as original and keeping the memorials surrounded.

  12. I don’t know why Silverstein didn’t build 2 WTC next after 1 WTC. Instead he built the much-shorter 4 WTC leaving a large gap between 1 and 4 (and height difference). Then 3 WTC was built, but there’s still that gap for 2 WTC waiting to be filled. I would much rather have seen them built in order, 1-2-3-4. Tallest-to-shortest.

  13. Larry Silverstein has been making one misstep after another since the original designs for the new WTC became public. First he chose unreliable media mogul Murdoch to be the anchor tenant of 2 WTC. Then he chose Bjarke Engel’s monstrosity of a design, dumping Norman Foster’s beautiful diamond topped supertall. Then he drastically watered down the 3 WTC design, ruining its original charm. And now, no telling what Silverstein is up to in telling Foster to needlessly redesign his flawless original. Silverstein needs to relinquish his control over the WTC and put someone competent in control who knows what they are doing.

  14. make a twiiiiiiiiinnnnnn 1wtc and 2wtc,…

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