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NY unveils plan for more secure tower

Redesigned building at ground zero echoes original twin towers

NEW YORK -- Hurriedly redesigned to address concerns about truck bombs, a slimmer and straighter Freedom Tower at ground zero will look less like the Statue of Liberty and more like one of the twin towers, officials said yesterday.

The redrawn tower will be set further back from one of Manhattan's main thoroughfares and atop a 200-foot concrete and metal pedestal designed to repel explosions, city and state officials said.

The tower will lose the twisting, asymmetrical design meant to recall the outstretched arm of the Statute of Liberty. Instead, it will resemble a faceted version of one of the twin towers, sitting atop an identical footprint and rising an identical 1,362 feet.

''In a subtle but important way, this building recalls . . . those buildings that we lost," said David Childs, the Freedom Tower's lead architect.

An illuminated spire will stretch the building to the symbolic 1,776 feet achieved by the original Freedom Tower design, scrapped last month after the police department said it would not adequately protect against vehicle-borne explosives.

The new spire, meant to evoke the Statue of Liberty's torch, will change color and cast alternating beams of light to the sky and to the horizon.

The new building is designed to meet the security standards for US embassies, making it the world's safest high-rise building, Childs said.

''This building is as robust and as strong as any I've ever been in," he said.

Its base will be constructed of 3-foot-thick concrete clad in a shimmering metal curtain for additional blast protection and to give an impression of movement and light.

The building will be set back an average of 90 feet from West Street, a major north-south thoroughfare along the Hudson River. The original building was to be 25 feet from the six-lane highway.

''The new Freedom Tower design incorporates standards the police department had sought to protect the building against bomb blasts, which our counterterrorism experts agree present one of the greatest threats to such iconic structures," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a written statement.

The changes will require the relocation of the 20-ton Adirondack granite cornerstone laid by Governor George Pataki on July 4, 2004.

Above the 20-story concrete base, which will contain an 80-foot public lobby, the building will be sheathed in plastic-laminated glass for increased resistance to pressure from explosives.

To the north and south, where the building will be closer to Vesey and Fulton streets, traffic will be severely curtailed to permit only authorized cars, trucks, and service vehicles.

The building's stairwells, elevators, communications systems, and water mains will be housed in a 3-foot-thick concrete and steel core for extra protection in case of a terrorist attack.

The structure will include extra fireproofing, biological and chemical air filters, extra-wide emergency stairs, a dedicated staircase for firefighters and ''areas of refuge" on each floor.

The redesign is meant to signal a newly aggressive effort to rebuild the 16 acres devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

Amid criticism of bureaucratic infighting and delays at ground zero, the governor, who has been weighing a 2008 presidential bid, last month appointed his chief of staff, John Cahill, to take charge of rebuilding.

James Kallstrom, a former New York City FBI chief, is charged with handling security concerns.

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