New book by Judith Dupré takes a fresh look at One World Trade Center

15 years ago, the events of 9/11 left a gaping hole in the NYC skyline. Today, that void is filled by seven new buildings, including One World Trade Center, the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. URBAN HUB revisits the tower’s epic story, and offers a sneak-peak into the new book “One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building.”

Judith Dupré is the only author to have been given unfettered access to the World Trade Center site, its vendors, and archives by the owners of the site, The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Her book also examines the fascinating history of Ground Zero, the other major buildings at the World Trade Center, and One WTC’s pioneering design and structure.

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Published on 09.09.2016

Bringing it all together

To reconstruct the World Trade Center, many hurdles had to be overcome, including the removal of over a million tons of debris from the 16 acre site, the repair of damaged foundations, and reaching agreement about the selection of building and monument designs between those who controlled the site and the general public.

The site developers even managed to harmonize former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s promise to rebuild with former NY Governor George Pataki’s promise to “…never build where the towers stood.” The solution: half the site is devoted to the twin reflecting pools that commemorate the area where the Twin Towers once stood, and One World Trade Center, along with 3 additional skyscrapers, occupies the other half.

Today, One World Trade Center stands as a shining example of advanced design and technology.

“Only by remembering the past can we rebuild the present moment. The new World Trade Center tells us stories – about the past, about the determination of those who built the project, and about the future of skyscrapers. To rebuild is to heal, and One World Trade Center is as much an act of healing and peace, as it is an extraordinarily innovative skyscraper.”

Judith Dupré, Author of One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building

A closer look

The design of One World Trade Center is full of symbolism. Its height of 1,776 feet, for example, refers to the country’s birth year. Looking at the shape of the building, a careful observer will see references to many other structures, including the former Twin Towers, the Washington Monument and even ancient structures like pyramids and obelisks.

The building also boasts many technical innovations, one of which being its very shape. Its square foundation gradually tapers at the corners, forming a perfect octagon at mid-height, and then a smaller square at the roof. Each floorplate is unique, with a slightly different shape. One WTC’s tapered profile deflects wind currents, an added benefit for any supertall.

Constructed with blast-proof glass and ultra-strong concrete, it is considered by many to be the safest building in the nation, and perhaps the world.


A supertall that’s super strong

Most concrete is rated at a strength of 4,000 psi. The Hoover Dam’s is rated 7,500 psi. However, One WTC was built with concrete with strengths up to 14,000 psi, the strongest ever used in any building. It was truly built to withstand practically anything.

One WTC’s engineers learned valuable lessons from 9/11, and incorporated them into the tower’s structure. The central concrete core protects the tower’s vital systems and its occupants. The air inside the core is filtered and pressurized so that neither smoke nor contaminants can enter. Extra-wide stairs are lined with florescent tape so that people can get out (and rescue workers can get up) in an emergency, even in the dark.

The new book on One WTC

Judith Dupré, award-winning author of the international bestseller Skyscrapers, has recently published One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building (Little, Brown and Company, 2016), the definitive book about one of the most complex collaborations in history.

One WTC has been scrutinized more closely than any building or public work in the modern age, and yet until now the complete story of the project has never been fully told. Dupré presents the story of One World Trade Center in its entirety: from Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s vow to rebuild on September 12, 2001, through the complex, often contentious interactions between the many public and private agencies with a stake in the project, to the topping out of the skyscraper.

Designed in collaboration with DBOX, the book features more than 300 photos, an illustrated construction timeline, a time-lapse montage of One WTC’s evolution, and annotated panoramic photographs taken from One World Observatory.

“With this book, I sought to move readers beyond architecture’s abstraction and into an understanding of its primary purpose, which is to create a human place. The buildings we build shape the quality and meaning of our lives. Telling One WTC’s profoundly human story, through the voices of the experts who built it, was the privilege of a lifetime”.

Judith Dupré, Author of One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building

About the author

Judith Dupré is a New York Times bestselling author, historian, and design consultant. Her iconic book “Skyscrapers” remains a global bestseller on the topic. A graduate of Brown and Yale universities, Dupré is a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar. For more information or to buy the book, see

Tourist tips

If you have the chance to visit NYC and the World Trade Center, it’s essential to plan an itinerary to make the most of your time. There’s a lot to see! Be sure to visit One World Observatory at the very top of One WTC, as well as the soaring Transportation Hub, where dozens of new stores have opened.

Also not to be missed is the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, which includes 2 commemorative pools and a subterranean museum. Nearby, there are many historical landmarks with a strong relationship to the World Trade Center’s history and design, including the Statue of Liberty, Trinity Church, Brooklyn Bridge, St. Paul Chapel, and Grand Central Terminal. Curious how these tie in? Read the book!

And don’t forget to catch views of One WTC from various vantage points from around and outside the city. Some of the best places for a beautiful view include the east and west sides of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and New Jersey.

Watch this documentary on One World Trade Center for more information.


One World Trade Center Crossword

Download a fun crossword based on One WTC.