A Look Back At The Process Of Building One World Trade Center

A new book compiles 70 interviews and 250 images in an attempt to tell the full story of the building.

Author and architecture writer Judith Dupré has been writing about the World Trade Center since the early 1990s. She researched the Twin Towers for her 2013 book Skyscrapers and covered the 9/11 memorial in her subsequent book Monuments. Before that, she was a longtime resident of the surrounding neighborhood, and was part of the team that developed the nearby World Financial Center (now Brookfield Place).


Which is why three years ago, Dupré felt it was the natural next step to embark on her new book, One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building, focusing on the colossal 1,776-foot-tall skyscraper and the embattled, decade-long planning and development process. A year and a half after the controversial building opened to tepid reviews, Dupré’s book gathers 250 images and interviews with over 70 people who worked on the project in an attempt to tell the full story of how the building came to be.

An “authorized biography” of the building written with the cooperation of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (the building’s developer), One World Trade Center takes a decidedly pro-building approach. It’s best read as a recap of everything that happened over the 12 years the building was being developed; a timeline in the front takes readers the full way through–from Mayor Giuliani’s vow to rebuild the site to David Libeskind’s original Freedom Tower design, to the final building designed by David Childs of Skidmore Owings & Merrill.

The book details the building’s architectural and engineering challenges, as as well as the rigid safety regulations designed to protect it. For example, the reinforced concrete core in One World Trade–along with its neighbor Seven World Trade–changed the way New York unions erect skyscrapers today. “The core is the most significant technological leap forward in how buildings in New York City are designed today,” Dupré writes in the book.

“The thing that is singular about One World Trade Center is it had almost an impossible obligation,” Dupré tells Co.Design. “It had to stand tall and be a symbol of all that was lost and reclaimed after 9/11 but it had to do that without showing any arrogance or hubris.”

One World Trade Center by Judith Dupré goes on sale Tuesday, April 26.

All Photos: courtesy Hachette Book Group

About the author

Meg Miller is an associate editor at Co.Design covering art, technology, and design.