7 World Trade Center, „Virtual Window“, AR experience, NYC, 2006

You don’t always get a call from a Larry Silverstein on an ordinary Monday. “I’ve heard about you”, he said. Eighteen hours later we landed in New York.

Future of the past

Larry Silverstein himself is a legend in New York. He is the man who completed the largest real estate transaction in the city’s history when he signed a 99-year lease on the former World Trade Center – only to see it destroyed in terrorist attacks six weeks later on September 11, 2001. Four years later, we stood on the 20th floor of 7 World Trade Center, looking down onto the vast building site. “Seven Million people come here every year”, he said, “but what they see is the past. What I would like to show them is the future.”

A window into the future

So what we built with SOM architects as partners is a marketing suite on the 20th floor, with a Virtual Window as its center piece. It was built out of screens and a camera displaying a live image. But this would have only been the image of the building site – if there wouldn’t have been a virtual, three-dimensional layer of the future quarter. With your hand you could steer the camera through a gesture frame – with your finger you could point right into the future.

Architects can rebuild a city, and it’s going to take several years to heal the wounds. Communication designers can create a vision, so people are able to see the future again. It’s going to take a few moments – to regain hope.

Here you can see the showroom and the screen, immersed in blue light. A woman stands in front of the frame and moves her index fingerThe picture shows a view into the white-blue marketing suite.A completely white gear leads to the frame. Behind it you can see outside.A white model of the new quarter stands in a completely white corner of the Marketing Suite.Five high stools of light wood stand lined up in front of a white bar.Here you can see the white model again, but this time from a different side.A man in a suit and tie is interviewed behind the frame by a cameraman.This picture shows the Marketing Suite still in shell. Through the panorama windows you can see the whole of Manhattan. Further back you can see the Empire State Building. The picture shows the construction site and the shell of the 7 World Trade Center. Here the building is almost half finished.