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Rebuilding Ground Zero

NEW CONCRETE ENGINEERING

Five years since the Twin Towers were destroyed by the 11 September terrorist attacks, foundations for their replacement are being built, while the concrete 'slurry' wall - which holds back the Hudson River and supports buildings and streets above - is being restrained, and an adjacent 9m deep pit excavated.

Libeskind won the Ground Zero masterplan project in 2002 with much support from the then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who established the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

However, the site's leaseholder Larry Silverstein got architect David Childs to redesign the centrepiece building in 2004. After this, it no longer resembled Libeskind's original design, save for the original height and the name: Freedom Tower. But Libeskind is not bitter.

'[Rebuilding] the World Trade Center was never going to be a simple process with the politics involved. But I'm glad to say that my masterplan has stayed intact and construction is moving ahead, ' Libeskind says.

'It's important to me to know that the masterplan is being adhered to because it's not just one element - it's a whole city which is being created balancing the serenity of a memorial with a busy metropolis.' His design includes concepts that many other architects could have overlooked. As well as a commercial centre of a cluster of towers surrounding the colossal Freedom Tower, there will be a museum, memorial and wedge of light. The masterplan also embraces the transportation hub - 'the area must be accessible' - and exposes the reinforced concrete footings of buildings above.

This symbolises that the foundations of what once stood on the site have survived.

'We saw the slurry wall and foundations withstood the attack, and now can also see a piece of history of what New York is built on.'

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