When Complete, Freedom Tower Will Rise 1,776 Feet

NEW YORK -- Timmy Vassilakis is not just another hard hat.

And in a city where success is so often measured vertically, this project is personal.

Vassilakis was a lowly apprentice for a heating and air conditioning company on the 106th floor of the south tower of World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, assigned to fetch coffee for his coworkers on an idyllic morning much like Thursday.

He got out.

But when so many others vowed never to return to this chasm in Lower Manhattan, Vassilakis couldn't seem to stay away, installing pipes in what will eventually be the tallest building in the nation -- the Freedom Tower.

"It's taken way too long," said Vassilakis, 31, a construction worker with Jamaica, N.Y.-based Cardoza Plumbing Corp. "I think it should have been rebuilt a long time ago."

Steel work on the city's most-talked about skyscraper, which is located northwest of the footprints of the old World Trade Center, currently tops out at the 78th floor, with concrete reaching 70 stories.

When the landmark is complete, which is not expected for another year or two, it will max out at 102 floors, capped off by a 300-foot antenna that will make the Freedom Tower soar to a symbolic 1,776 feet.

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