The present building is located at the heart of the revitalised World Trade Center site in New York. The brief called for the design of a new commercial skyscraper to deliver a total of 2.5million sq ft (above ground area) designed within the guidelines of the previously developed Studio Libeskind masterplan for the site. The brief for 3 World Trade Center outlined the building’s function as the site’s commercial core and aimed to address the issue of balancing retail and office space, while also complementing and acknowledging the WTC Memorial. Tower 3 has an orthogonal relationship to the main space between the Memorial water pools and to further complement this relationship, the central zone of the building reduces in mass as it rises towards the sky. The effect is a stepped profile which accentuates the building’s verticality, relative to the memorial site and is sympathetic to the height and position of the neighbouring buildings. The design includes five trading floors, 53 office floors (totalling 2.5 million sq ft (232,255 m²)) of above ground area, five retail levels, and eight mechanical floors which serve trading and office floors, 44 passenger lifts and two principal stairwells. The lower section of Tower 3 – the ‘podium building’ – contains the tower’s retail element and the trading floors, and the upper levels hold the office space. The streetscape is activated by retail façades enabling free-flowing movement of shoppers between five levels of retail, three above ground and two below, served by two lifts and four stairwells. To maximise sustainability in terms of the building’s day-to-day functioning, similar ‘green design’ features as those included in the design of 7 World Trade Center have been incorporated. The design team ensured energy use and costs were significantly reduced compared to typical Manhattan office buildings, and has achieved ‘Gold’ Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.
Construction was delayed until 2014 because of a lack of an anchor tenant. The building's concrete core was topped out to maximum height in August 2016, with the perimeter steel structure following on October 6, 2016.
When American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower at 1 WTC, its landing gear fell on the hotel's roof. Firefighters used the lobby as a staging area, and were also in the hotel to evacuate guests that may have still been inside. The collapse of the South Tower at 2 WTC split the building in half. Fourteen people who had been trying to evacuate the partially destroyed hotel after the first collapse managed to survive the second collapse in this small section.
The original building at the site was the Marriott World Trade Center, designed by SOM, which was a 22-story, 825-room hotel at 3 World Trade Center. It opened in April 1981 as the Vista International Hotel and was the first major hotel to open in Lower Manhattan south of Canal Street since 1836.