Larry Silverstein, the octogenarian developer, has emerged as a hero of Ground Zero reconstruction. His 7 World Trade Center, designed by David Childs, with assists from the glass-master James Carpenter and the artist Jenny Holzer, is a crystalline gem, far more satisfying than 1 World Trade Center, the 1,776-foot tower that is meant to be the centerpiece of the rebuilt 16 acres in lower Manhattan. (Silverstein hasn’t been involved in that building, also designed by Childs, since 2006.)
Now Silverstein has completed 4 World Trade Center, by the Tokyo-based architect Fumihko Maki. While not as perfectly prismatic as SOM’s Tower 7, it is an estimable building, in part because it nearly disappears. Not only are its facades made of reflective glass, but the back wall of its vast lobby, 47 feet high and nearly a block wide, is made of black granite with highly polished surface that provides a mirror image of the September 11 Memorial and Cesar Pelli’s World Financial Center. From outside, you’re looking at reflections, and from inside, you’re still looking at reflections. It’s hard to think of another building that so fully erases itself—an admirable act of restraint by Maki, a Pritzker Prize-winner.