It was designed by architect Cesar Pelli in 1985 and completed in 1988. The atrium was connected to the World Trade Center by a pedestrian bridge over the West Side Highway until the September 11th attacks, during which the bridge was destroyed and the Winter Garden severly damaged. It was rebuilt in 2002, and has since been host to a number of art displays, musical performances, and other entertainment. The space can also be rented for private events.
The Winter Garden, along with public spaces in the other WFC buildings, is currently being renovated by Brookfield Place into a shopping center with high-class stores and dining. The project is expected to cost $250 million, and will be completed in 2014.