9/11 | Ground zero rebuilding still unfinished, 20 years later

The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center is under construction

Two decades after its destruction in the Sept. 11 attacks, the work to rebuild the World Trade Center complex remains incomplete.
Two planned skyscrapers, a performing arts center and a church are still unfinished at the site, which plays host Saturday to the annual ceremony honouring nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks.
Visitors to the commemoration will find a place that no longer has the feel of a construction zone, though, even as the work continues.
The memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools opened in 2011. One World Trade Center — the spire originally known as the Freedom Tower — opened in 2014, as did the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. An underground transit hub and shopping mall opened in 2016. Three other glassy towers built to replace those lost in the attack are open.
Cranes and construction fences, however, can still be seen around the site. Here is a look at the unfinished work:
Planned as the second tallest skyscraper at the site, 2 World Trade Center, might someday reach 80 stories. But for now, just a low stump of a building exists as a placeholder, covered with colorful graffiti-style murals at the northeast corner of the Trade Center site.
Developer Larry Silverstein has said he wants to sign an anchor tenant for the tower before starting construction.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic emptying out office buildings, the now-90-year-old says he is confident a tenant will be found so the Norman Foster -designed tower can be built in his lifetime.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to put the shovel in the ground as soon as possible, and complete the rebuilding project we started 20 years ago,” Silverstein said in an emailed statement.
After years of delays, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center is under construction just to the west of 2 World Trade Center’s future site and is scheduled to open in 2023.
While a performance center was part of World Trade Center master planner Daniel Libeskind’s original scheme, disputes over its budget and design threatened its viability in the years after Frank Gehry and the Norwegian firm Snøhetta were tapped to design it in 2004.
In 2015, the center’s leaders announced a new team of architects, Joshua Prince-Ramus of Rex Architecture P.C. plus the firm Davis Brody Bond, who have designed a translucent glass and marble cube.
Once finished, the arts center’s top floor will house a flexible set of spaces that can be configured into one, two or three theaters for drama, dance, film and music. Free performances will take place on a small stage on the lobby level.
“All of the components are automated, so the walls move, the floor and the seats move,” said the center’s president, Leslie Koch.
Perelman, the banker and investor, secured naming rights with a $75 million donation. Besides that gift, the $500 million center is being built with private donations and $100 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency created after the attacks to spur redevelopment. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is the chair of the board and a donor. KAREN MATTHEWS, NEW YORK, MDT/AP

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