First Tenant of 1 World Trade Center Arrives, Highlighting Lower Manhattan’s Renewal

More than 13 years after a terrorist attack destroyed the twin towers — symbols of New York City’s might, financially and structurally — the first employees of the first tenant in the building erected to take their place arrived for their first workday there on Monday.

“The building is open for business,” said Jordan Barowitz, an official of the Durst Organization, a leasing agent for the building. “It’s a beautiful building, it’s a historic building but it’s an office building and it’s open for business.”

At 1,776 feet, the building, 1 World Trade Center, is steps from where the old north tower stood until Sept. 11, 2001. But where that sunny morning held a still-summery promise until the first jetliner lacerated the building and smoke filled the shimmering blue sky, Monday was chilly as employees of the magazine publisher Condé Nast arrived.

As they entered the building, they walked through the lobby adorned in white marble from the same quarry that produced the marble in the old twin towers — one of the many details that will remind workers daily that they work in a building buffeted by history.

The company’s arrival was an extraordinary moment that passed in the most ordinary of ways, with employees simply walking in and taking an elevator to their floors. There were no ribbons to be cut, no marching bands and no elected officials on hand, in part because Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s schedule took him elsewhere for campaign appearances.

Glamour? It will come later, as will Vogue, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Condé Nast’s other magazines.

It was the culmination of 13 years of unusually public squabbles over architects and designs; of political jockeying and bureaucratic bickering; and of complicated construction work. Much of it had to be done underground, unseen. But there were some spectacular moments for would-be sidewalk superintendents when impossibly tall cranes lifted the building’s impossibly large columns.

Even if Monday morning was meant to be about something as mundane as office space, the beginning of the first workday at 1 World Trade Center was a powerful moment because, once again, there was an office building on that 16-acre lot in Lower Manhattan where the twin towers once stood.

By Monday, 4,802 days had passed since Sept. 11. At 8:46 a.m. — when the first plane slammed into the north face of the north tower in 2001 — 115,224 hours had gone by.

The Condé Nast employees had been without offices since Thursday. Their workaday possessions — computers, files and photographs that put personal touches on a boss’s desk or an assistant’s cubicle — were packed and moved on Friday and through the weekend. Condé Nast’s headquarters had been in Times Square since 1999.

The 175 Condé Nast employees who went to work in the new building on Monday were the first wave of an eventual total of 3,400. They are what the company calls corporate employees, meaning that they do not work for any one of its famous magazines in particular. Some work in human relations, some in accounting.

Condé Nast issued a statement saying it was “proud to be a part of this important moment of renewal for the city.”

On Monday, Charles H. Townsend, the chief executive of Condé Nast, led the way into the building. Condé Nast is leasing about 1.2 million square feet of space on 24 floors, with a cafeteria on the 35th floor and dining rooms and an auditorium on the floor below. Condé Nast’s executive offices are on the 42nd floor, which, like the other floors, has tall windows with enviable views.

For many people in Lower Manhattan, Monday was the day to acknowledge the reknitting of the trade center site into the fabric of the city. The building the Condé Nast workers occupied had long been visible. But at the sidewalk level, the area immediately around it had been off limits for so long that 1 World Trade remained somewhat remote, even as thousands of workers rushed by on their way to offices in the complex across nearby West Street that was known on Sept. 11 as the World Financial Center. (It is now called Brookfield Place.)

Construction on 1 World Trade Center began in 2006. By 2009, workers had delivered huge steel columns for the building, manufactured in Europe and finished in New Jersey or Quebec.

What is there now looks to the future and to the past. The new building is steps from a memorial that pays tribute to those who died in the attack. There is a museum with a large image of the twin towers in a window that tourists press their faces up against. Closer than that is the north pool, which is ringed, above its 30-foot-deep water wall, with the names of the victims.

But a quick glance up finds signs of the resurgence that is changing Lower Manhattan: A banner on a building promotes condominiums on the top floors of a luxury hotel.

If the first day in new quarters is about everyday questions — Is the commute longer or shorter? Is the coffee wagon on the corner any good? — the Condé Nast employees saw something familiar as they went to work. Steps from one of the entrances is a shop that sells magazines, with the Condé Nast titles on display.

The shop also sells sodas and snacks — and, for $24.99, something they could put on their desks as a reminder of where they are: a little model of the new building.