Rebuilding WTC in homage to a fallen brother

Rebuilding the World Trade Center is more than a job for Brian Lyons.

Rebuilding the World Trade Center is more than a job for Brian Lyons.

It's a way to pay homage to his younger brother Michael, a firefighter killed in the Sept. 11 attacks — and a way for Lyons to heal from his loss.

Lyons has spent 10 years at the site. He rushed there with his brother's firefighting gear to look for him after the attacks; he stayed to help in the rescue and recovery; and then to work on the rebuilding.

Lyons has been a key player nearly everywhere on the site and is now a project manager for Tishman Construction, overseeing the $3.4 billion transportation hub that will link the PATH train, the subway and nearby buildings.

Workers are rushing to prepare the site for the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the attacks. Lyons and his family will be among those seeing their loved ones' names on the memorial for the first time.

"Everything's coming out of the ground now," he said as workers busily readied the site. "There's no more pit. I try to actually call this the World Trade Center now. We don't refer to it as ground zero anymore."

The site's signature skyscraper — formerly called the Freedom Tower and now called 1 World Trade Center — is visible for miles around. It will rise to 1,776 feet, making it the tallest building in the U.S.

Tower 4 is rising quickly and the foundations for two other office buildings are almost at street level. The transportation hub, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is taking shape.

"There's so much to celebrate now," said Lyons, whose experience was chronicled in the documentary "Rebirth" that followed five people whose lives were transformed by the attacks.

The rebuilding was complicated and emotionally loaded. The site is huge, with parcels controlled by many different stakeholders. Train service continues through parts of it. Security concerns led to radical changes in the design, all while New Yorkers watched anxiously to see what would take shape.

The 800,000-square-foot transportation hub will resemble no other structure in New York, or perhaps the world. Calatrava has designed a distinctive glass and steel structure that evokes a bird's wings. Planners expect 250,000 people will pass through daily. Lyons said it will be "grander than Grand Central."

"It gives you a sense of dignity on your way to work," he said of the design.

It also includes ample retail space. Construction has picked up over the last year and is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

This Sunday, the relatives of those lost will join with President Barack Obama and other dignitaries at the memorial opening. For families of victims whose remains were never recovered, like Michael Lyons', having their names permanently inscribed on the memorial can bring a sense of closure.

After years of a long commute from Lake Carmel, N.Y., and time apart from his wife and two teenage daughters, Lyons is looking forward to showing them the progress they've made.

"Now that 10 years is here, we're trying to move forward," Lyons said.

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