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New, safer World Trade Center emerging ten years after 9/11

By by Annie Bao (Xinhua)

13:56, August 24, 2011

NEW YORK, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- A decade after the devastating terrorist attacks, ground zero is witnessing life and exuberance coming back. With the opening of the 9/11 Memorial this September and the accompanying Museum in 2012, many cannot help but worry about the safety of the new World Trade Center (WTC) amidst all the redevelopment of lower Manhattan.

Chi Chu, head of Operations Department at Silverstein Properties, the firm responsible for developing the new WTC, assures Xinhua that safety, in this case, is always a top priority.

Chu is referring, in particular, to 7 WTC, the only building currently in use at ground zero. Opened in May of 2006, this 52-story, 1.7 million square-foot skyscraper literally marks the gateway to the new WTC and heralds the spirit of renewal in the neighborhood.

"This is probably the safest building in the world," said Chu, who is also the Vice Chairperson of the Real Estate Board of New York's Board of Management Division.

For starters, the structure was designed with "increased robustness and redundancy of steel," according to a Silverstein Properties press kit. "Even the laminated, structurally fortified wall and columns in the building lobby serve as a blast shield."

The building is made of two-foot thick reinforced concrete walls protecting the building's core for the full height of the tower, including the lobby, exit stairways, and elevators. When one wall had to be slightly scaled down during construction, "it took them four days to cut through!" Chu recalled.

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