Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

  1. #1

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    NEW YORK TIMES February 12, 2002
    Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    Five months after the World Trade Center attack, the focus of the recovery effort is moving outward from ground zero to another trauma zone: a ring of battered skyscrapers and other buildings that once held 10 million square feet of floor space, slightly more than the twin towers.

    The Sept. 11 avalanche of flaming steel, shattered concrete and other debris from the towers tore through roofs, sliced giant gashes in facades, ignited fires and set loose underground floods.

    These wounded buildings, which somehow remained standing, are no ordinary structures: two are landmarks, one is a key communication center and another held classrooms that served thousands of college students each day.

    Their future is essential to downtown's revival, to the city tax base and to the historic and architectural fabric of Lower Manhattan. But it is by no means certain; owners and city planners are wrestling with choices that could take years to execute and hundreds of millions of dollars to finance. Owners of two of the biggest buildings are committed to returning, but dire uncertainty cloaks the future of at least two of the others.

    The damage to these buildings, nearly lost in the shadow of the World Trade Center, was as hellish as it has been unrecognized.

    An office tower at 90 West Street, which dominated the Hudson River skyline when it opened in 1907, burned out of control for more than a day and a half. Whole floors are still riots of twisted ductwork drooping crazily from the ceiling, and nightmarish forests of charred furniture frames and scorched metal desks.

    Another building, donated to the City University of New York in 1993 and then renovated at a cost of $65 million, saw much of its southern facade drop to the ground. Still another had a hole punched in its roof by a piece of landing gear from a hijacked jet. And one of the buildings, left with a massive open gash, has been invaded by an aggressive mold.

    Including these structures, at least 22 of the 45 buildings seriously damaged on Sept. 11 remain closed. Everyone involved is eager to bring back the thousands of people who once worked in the offices, stayed in the hotel rooms, attended lectures in the classrooms and spent their dollars at downtown restaurants and stores.

    But deciding the future of the buildings is not simple, for both economic and emotional reasons. Repair work is excruciatingly expensive the $300 million repair bill at the Verizon Building on 140 West Street is three-quarters of the Chrysler Building's estimated total value.

    But the price of tearing them down to build something new also feels high to some of the owners, who are defiantly reluctant to let the terrorists claim even one more toppled trophy.

    This tension between pride and financial reality is most pronounced for the three or four skyscrapers that were the most severely damaged.

    "You can't look at this first blush and say conclusively it is a total loss," said David Wiener, managing director of corporate real estate at Deutsche Bank, which owns 130 Liberty Street, a 40-story office tower, whose steel and glass face suffered a 24-story gash caused by the collapsing south tower. "We are not saying it is or isn't at this point."

    Whatever decisions are made, everyone is encouraging speed, for, among many things, the damaged state of these buildings also means a great deal for the city coffers.

    The estimated market value of 130 Liberty, dropped from $178 million to $70 million after the attack, according to the City Department of Finance. If that number stands through the year, it alone will mean a $4.5 million slip in city property taxes.

    "You can't wait for the World Trade Center area to be rebuilt," said Louis Tomson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. "We have to do what we can to get these buildings back."

    Like the buildings themselves, the experiences of the people inside them on Sept. 11 have received little attention. In skyscrapers just south of the trade center, at least three people were killed: two were trapped in an elevator as one of the buildings burned, the third was killed by falling debris.

    North of the trade center, George Famulare, manager for corporate real estate for Verizon, had just finished overseeing the evacuation of nearly 2,000 employees from the company's 32-story high-rise, and was in his office making a final telephone call before his own planned exit. But before he left, one of the twin towers came down.

    Giant spears of steel catapulted into the building, breaking apart sections as if it they were made from a Lego set. The wall and ceiling of his office came down. "I tried to get up and I couldn't," he said. "So I started to crawl."

    He had survived, but there was one more task he knew he had to deal with: the electrical switches in the basement had to be turned off to lessen the load on the building's emergency power supply. By the time he got there, the water flooding in was already three feet high. Afraid of electrocution, Mr. Famulare and a co-worker took two-by-fours and whacked at the main electrical switches to turn them off. And then they left.

    Two of the half-dozen most severely damaged buildings 3 World Financial Center and the Verizon Building are certainly going to be repaired or rebuilt. American Express, in 3 World Financial Center, has announced it will start moving employees back in April.

    The Verizon Building The rebuilding tasks at the Verizon Building, one of the city's electronic lifelines and among its first Art Deco skyscrapers, are the largest and most complex.

    When it was built in 1926 to serve as headquarters for the New York Telephone Company, the building dominated the Hudson River waterfront just as thoroughly as the twin towers would years later. The skyscraper, whose facade and entrances are highlighted with intricately decorated stone, cooper, brass and bronze, is more than a keystone for the recovery effort. With nearly four million data and telephone lines radiating from it, the building is also a nerve center for the commercial and residential infrastructure of Lower Manhattan.

    It took hits on two sides. First, the steel hurled from the collapsing towers smashed into the building's south face, penetrating an underground vault containing thousands of telephone cables. Later that day, 7 World Trade Center, a 47-story skyscraper just to the east, came tumbling down, its ruins slumping like a slain giant against the Verizon Building's east facade.

    The remains of the collapsed trade center buildings have been picked away, but the wounds they created are still visible. Two-foot-wide steel support columns at the east facade of the Verizon Building are bent inward like crumpled car fenders. A hole in this face of the building reaches as high as eight stories from the ground, and is covered by nothing more than white sheeting.

    The recovery effort at the Verizon Building began almost immediately after Sept. 11. Hundreds of thick black cables, carrying data and phone lines, were strung through hallways and out of windows, over scaffolding and through a maze of trenches to restore service. Concrete boxes have been built around the bent steel columns.

    But much about what has been done is temporary, and another estimated $300 million and two years of construction work will be needed, company officials said.

    Overhauling the damaged telecommunications network will be "a whole other animal," said Dominic Veltri, manager for design and construction for Verizon in New York, perhaps adding hundreds of millions more dollars to the rebuilding cost.

    And a legion of artisans will be drafted to rebuild decorative bronze work and restore the interior ceiling murals, which trace the history of human communication from Aztec runners to candlestick telephones from around 1925. All these costs could bring the final tab to over $1 billion.

    With such an expensive repair bill, Mr. Veltri said, the company does not know whether to celebrate or lament the building's survival. But in spite of the costs, Mr. Veltri said, "We're not going to knock it down."

    Fiterman Hall

    The emotional, financial and physical equation could yield a different result at Fiterman Hall. The 15-story building owned by the City University of New York was hit by debris from 7 World Trade Center during what was supposed to be a time of celebration.

    After seven years, the last phase of the renovations to the former office building was nearly complete. With the start of the fall semester, students were filing into the new classrooms and the final touches were being put on a "virtual library" with 400 computers. A wall for plaques had even been set up in the lobby to honor the donors who helped pay for it all.

    The flying debris did not lead to a catastrophic collapse, but it broke off a corner of the building and caused other damage so severe that most of the southern extension of the building had to be cut off.

    Engineers hired by the city say the remaining structure is sound, but school officials are not sure: they point to a series of cracks in a stairwell near the building's core and fear the tremendous impacts may have caused deeper damage.

    Inside the building a fine layer of soot covers everything, samples of which have turned up high levels of dioxin and other dangerous substances.

    Some university administrators are so exhausted and dispirited that they would almost rather see the building demolished so they could start from scratch.

    "If you just started with a hole in the ground, it would definitely be faster than patching it all back together," said Ronald Spalter, deputy chief operating officer at City University.

    130 Liberty, 90 West The most grievous damage to the entire ring of buildings probably occurred to two major high rises, 130 Liberty Street and 90 West Street, which were raked by falling debris just south of the trade center site. But the types of damage and the nature of the repair operations if they take place could not be more different for the two structures.

    The 23-story, 1907 landmark at 90 West Street, with its granite and terra cotta facade showing off what was then a stunning verticality the modern skyscraper struggling free of its 19th-century chrysalis is topped by what look like startled Gothic eyebrows. A top-floor restaurant was once advertised as the highest in New York City, offering panoramic river and city views.

    "This is a beautiful example of its time and style," said Donald Friedman, director of preservation at LZA/Thornton-Tomasetti.

    The architect of 90 West Street, Cass Gilbert, would put up the Woolworth Building only a few years later. In no small measure because of the damage to this building, the World Monuments Fund recently added Lower Manhattan to its watch list of the 100 most endangered sites, along with exotic structures like the 12th-century Banteay Chhmar Temple at Thmar Puok, in the Cambodian jungle.

    Structural steel from the collapsing south tower ripped hole after hole in that facade and set fires, capriciously, on at least 14 floors. Two people trapped in an elevator were killed. Because of the thick terra cotta fireproofing and magnificently built steel skeleton, the individual fires were contained, and a gutted floor may today sit below one where dusty but intact cubicles remain.

    But the heat rose to tremendous intensity everywhere. On one largely intact floor, a globe of the world has exploded like a balloon. Elsewhere a ceiling-mounted plastic Exit sign melted and now hangs down.

    Whether the money, estimated at $50 million to $100 million to replicate or replace vintage architectural and structural details, will be forthcoming could depend on the insurance settlement. But just how unpredictable the building's future could become is illustrated by a humbling condition that has developed at 130 Liberty, where one person died on Sept. 11.

    Although a major load-bearing column was knocked out when the huge gash was torn in its northern face, 130 Liberty, owned by Deutsche Bank, had been judged structurally sound by engineers. The gash, however, left the building exposed to the elements.

    The building has now succumbed to a seemingly uncontrollable infestation of mold, which could force it to be torn down if environmental tests determine that the ventilation systems and working spaces can not be entirely cleansed. A Deutsche Bank official said he would "hate to speculate" on the specific type of mold but described it as "pretty gross."

    The view of 1 World Financial Center, 1 Liberty Plaza, Deutsche Bank (130 Liberty Street, aka Bankers Trust Building), and 90 West Building from the Hudson River on 21 September 2001.

    The view on Deutsche Bank (130 Liberty Street, aka Bankers Trust Building), and 90 West Building from on 26 January 2002.

    The view on Deutsche Bank (130 Liberty Street, aka Bankers Trust Building) on 8 December 2001.

    The view on 140 West Street (Verizon, aka Barclay-Vesey) building on 8 December 2001.

    The view on 140 West Street (Verizon, aka Barclay-Vesey) building and 101 Barclay Street building on 8 December 2001.

  2. #2

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    Of course 90 West St and Verizon Bldg should be repaired.
    I must admit the loss of 130 Liberty street wouldn't make me sad. Why not destroy it and make it a part of the new scheme for lower Manhattan ?

    NY will badly need money.
    Let's hope the economy will pick up fast.

  3. #3

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    Ouch. I thought they were OK.

  4. #4

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero


  5. #5
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Manhattan - South Village

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    April 14, 2003
    Surgery on Landmark, With Chisel as Scalpel

    In the inexorable rebirth of ground zero, it is at last the season for the masters of bronze and stone.

    And so, in a century-old former tin-ceiling plant in Brooklyn under the penumbra of the Manhattan Bridge, Milton Osborne, a 67-year-old foundryman, is pouring a molten orange river of bronze, casting a pair of shiny, soaring pelican wings.

    At the same moment, in an echoing stoneworking shed in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Robert Carpenter, a 57-year-old carver, is pounding a fine carbide chisel, deepening the intricate Art Deco pattern in a 2,000-pound block of Indiana limestone.

    Their mission is to heal the gaping wounds in the Verizon building, at 140 West Street, which was battered by not one, but three, of its neighbors at ground zero: the north and south towers of the World Trade Center and 7 World Trade Center, which collapsed next door.

    At the Excalibur Bronze Foundry, Mr. Osborne is helping to recreate a fantastical original bronze bas-relief of whales, pelicans and sea horses, replacing the tortured remnants of a blasted 72-foot ornamental entrance on Washington Street.

    And at the Petrillo Stone Corporation, Mr. Carpenter and other master carvers are chiseling away at 5,000 cubic feet of limestone and granite for the 32-story Verizon building.

    Mr. Carpenter, whose name belies three decades in the service of stone, was laboriously carving a bell (as in Ma) for the 1926 Art Deco building, a landmark at the corner of Vesey Street and once the headquarters of the New York Telephone Company.

    Most of the new stonework will bridge the damage to Verizon's south- and east-facing walls. Granite and limestone will join 1,800 replacement windows, 520,000 facade bricks, 22,500 cinder blocks and 93 tons of structural steel in the inventory of reconstruction.

    For weeks, a dozen Petrillo workers have methodically confronted stone after stone. Although they are using digital photography to generate new cutting blueprints and computer technology to pregouge the blocks for hand carving, Mr. Carpenter said the artisans were working in a way "that hasn't much changed since the age of the Egyptians."

    "It's pretty simple," he said. "You use tools to pulverize the stone, removing more and more until the true form is revealed."

    Michael Orekunrin, who learned wood carving in Nigeria and worked stone for three years at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is among those chiseling with Mr. Carpenter. So is Celine Cannon, who was born into a family of carvers in Dublin.

    Parts of the $140 million restoration of the Verizon building, such as the polished grayish-pink Stony Creek granite from Connecticut, will look new. But the decorative limestone will get the opposite treatment. It will be intentionally weathered, blasted with gritty black silicon carbide in a 10-foot-tall sandblasting booth.

    "To make the new stone match, we have to age it a bit," said Frank R. Petrillo, the third-generation president of the 96-year-old company, which crafted the original travertine for Lincoln Center as well as replacement marble for Tiffany & Company on Fifth Avenue.

    If the builders of the pyramids might be at home with these stone carvers, they might also find familiar rituals at the Excalibur foundry, which is using a 5,000-year-old casting procedure the lost-wax method to painstakingly restore the Verizon building's intricate bronzework.

    On a recent afternoon, the roar of a 2,300-degree gas furnace marked the melting of 200 pounds of bronze for the pour. Mr. Osborne and two colleagues, Winel Najac and Martin Kirkland, skimmed the slag from the crust of the bronze within the two-foot-high crucible, then poured the 2,050-degree metal into the molds.

    "The mold is now hot enough to light cigarettes," said Bill Gold, 67, the president of Excalibur, which also restored the bronzework in landmarks including the main reading room of the New York Public Library.

    Mr. Osborne, the foundryman, still cannot bring himself to visit ground zero. "But I'm taking it in small steps," he said. "Right now, I'm sending my good thoughts into the ether." He is eager, however, to visit his craftsmanship when the Verizon building has been rebuilt, he said.

    The team at Petrillo will install more than 400 pieces of decorative stone by September, affixing each fitted block into the Verizon exterior walls with stainless steel anchors.

    "The fact that it's for ground zero gives us the incentive to make it all perfect," said Fred Clayton, 51, a stone planer who has worked for Petrillo for a quarter-century. "We feel that all eyes are on our work but we're doing this for us."

    The craftsmen who created the New York Telephone Company's flagship in the 1920's felt the same way. Following Sept. 11, Mr. Carpenter said, when he had to clamber up the ruined facade to make measurements for the replacement stone, he discovered "little birds' nests created by the original carvers" high over the entranceway, invisible to passers-by for nearly eight decades.

    "It was gorgeous work," he said, "even though these were details that no one would ever see. They had respect for what they did just as we do."

  6. #6
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    West Harlem

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero


  7. #7

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    It will be intentionally weathered, blasted with gritty black silicon carbide in a 10-foot-tall sandblasting booth.
    I'm not sure I agree.
    Even though I understand their aethetic concern, why make the repair invisible, as if nothing had happened ?

  8. #8

    Default Rescuing the Buildings Beyond Ground Zero

    I think it's either that or clean the entire building to match the new stone. *I understand your philosophical concern, but it would probably look too awkward to justify the great expense that they are putting into replicating the stonework.

    Along the lines of what you're saying, I hope to see included in the memorial some actual physical remnants of the attack that have not been relocated or adulterated in any way. *It's vital, in fact. *That's what Libeskind is aiming for with the "Slurry Wall," but we can only wait and see if it really has the power he says it has.

  9. #9


    I couldn't find a thread about this, but why did Verizon choose the Barclay-Vesey Building as their headquarters some years ago?

Similar Threads

  1. List of rental buildings in NYC
    By Edward in forum New York Real Estate
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: January 19th, 2015, 08:22 PM
  2. Race to build at ground zero
    By Edward in forum New York Real Estate
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: August 16th, 2007, 03:12 PM
  3. A new crop of signature buildings
    By Edward in forum New York Real Estate
    Replies: 39
    Last Post: June 24th, 2003, 10:29 AM
  4. pics of buildings on John street in downtown
    By sat in forum New York Real Estate
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: February 22nd, 2003, 05:37 AM
  5. New Ritz must go on next to ground zero
    By Edward in forum New York City Guide For Visitors
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: October 19th, 2002, 10:24 AM


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Google+ - Facebook - Twitter - Meetup

Edward's photos on Flickr - Wired New York on Flickr - In Queens - In Red Hook - Bryant Park - SQL Backup Software