With two weeks to go before opening the memorial plaza in front of One World Trade Center, Port Authority director Chris Ward admitted failures yesterday in the 10-year struggle to rebuild at Ground Zero.
Ward said opening the memorial plaza on Sept. 11 will be a “remarkable achievement,” but one that came years after skyrocketing costs and delayed construction.
“I think the World Trade Center straddled this divide between success and failure,” he said at a New York Building Congress luncheon.
When he was appointed in 2008, he said the building was too expensive and taking too long. When he took over, they changed the design — building the tower first, instead of the transportation hub — to ensure the plaza was ready for visitors this year.
Ward also acknowledged hiccups with developer Larry Silverstein, who scrapped several designs for the tower after officials noted security concerns. “Every good marriage has its ups and downs,” he said, “and Larry and I are at an up.”
The memorial, which they expect to host 1,500 people every hour, will officially open Sept. 11.
This caps a decade of wrangling between officials, developers and architects, and years of a Ground Zero memorial with nothing for family members to stare at but a pit — a word Ward is not particularly fond of.
“The use of the word ‘pit,’ which I’ve always hated, was used time and time again,” he said.
Ward also said he never liked “Freedom Tower” and was happy when the building title became One World Trade Center.
“The name ‘Freedom Tower’ loomed over the site,” he said. “We were free before 9/11, and we’re free today.”
Also, he said, real estate experts worried that people would not want to work in a building that evokes memories of 9/11.
Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @AlisonatMetro.