By David W. Dunlap January 12, 2011 2:44 pm January 12, 2011 2:44 pm
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times The one-story remnant of the former Deutsche Bank building, with a yellow Brokk demolition robot in the foreground and the 1, 7 and 4 World Trade Center towers in the background.
The 41-story former Deutsche Bank building opposite the World Trade Center site is now the one-story former Deutsche Bank building.
Within a month, it should be down to zero; the last and largest of the 9/11 structural remnants to be cleared away, almost a full decade after it was seriously damaged in the attack and six years after the first of many promised completion dates.
The deconstruction project has spanned the administration of four governors, resulted in the death of two firefighters, cost nearly $160 million, riveted neighbors with fear of asbestos or other contaminants, revealed partial human remains from 9/11, darkened surrounding streets with tunnel-like sidewalk sheds and delayed progress on the overall redevelopment of the trade center, just across Liberty Street.
Now, sky has replaced the looming monolith.
“We like this view,” Avi Schick, the chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said on Tuesday as he stood outdoors in what used to be the ground floor of the building at 130 Liberty Street. He could see the 1 World Trade Center and 4 World Trade Center towers rising to the north, with the memorial museum pavilion between them. “This view was a long time coming.”
The corporation acquired 130 Liberty Street in 2004 for the purpose of tearing it down. One delay followed another. The first deconstruction contractor came and went. Much of 2006 was spent trying to satisfy environmental regulators that potential contaminants would be safely removed. Deconstruction began in earnest but was halted at the 26th floor by a deadly fire in August 2007. The corporation and its construction manager, Bovis Lend Lease, are battling over claims amounting to tens of millions of dollars, but the project resumed in 2009.
The end of 130 Liberty Street is now in sight. The “roof” of the remaining structure is what was the floor slab of the second floor. There may not be much of that by the time you read this post. The concrete was being steadily broken up Tuesday morning by a remote-controlled demolition robot known by its trade name, Brokk. (Shades of “This Island Earth.”)
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times An ironworker cutting apart the last of the tower’s remaining steel frame.
Steel beams were being cut apart from supporting columns with acetylene torches, then lifted away by crane. Soon, what little framework remains will be dismantled with a powerful mechanical shears. “It cuts steel like butter,” said Rick Livingston, the project manager for the corporation.
There is little on site that looks as if it was once part of a big office building, except two Detroit Diesel emergency generators and counterweights in the empty elevator shafts. The subterranean vault is open to view.
Much of what is left of the building is being pulverized into rubble and used as solid fill in the basement, which would otherwise tend to rise — believe it or not — because of the tremendous pressure exerted around it by the groundwater. Like the trade center, 130 Liberty Street was built on landfill.
The building will never disappear entirely, because its foundation walls and steel columns will remain, hidden below street level. They might even be used in some way to support whatever structure goes there next.
And what will that be? Julie Menin, the chairwoman of the Lower Manhattan community board and a board member of the development corporation, has been among those championing the idea of moving the proposed performing arts center to 130 Liberty Street from a site just east of 1 World Trade Center.
Neither Mr. Schick nor David Emil, the president of the development corporation, ruled out the possibility. In fact, Mr. Emil said the cost of building on the Liberty Street site — with existing foundations — would be significantly less than on the planned site, which is over PATH tracks and other subterranean infrastructure.
Preliminary diagrams showing how theaters, rehearsal halls and classrooms might be combined with a 35-story apartment building were drawn up in 2009 by Studio Daniel Libeskind, which devised the original trade center redevelopment plan.
“What the community desperately wants is to see this site activated as soon as possible,” Mr. Schick said. “The best and highest use would be some amenity that helps draw more people downtown while simultaneously improving the experience of those who already live and work here.”
The Port Authority will take over the site after deconstruction is complete, and use it as a staging area for the vehicle security center being built beneath the trade center. As to future development, the authority said in a statement: “Whether it is office, retail, hotel, residential or some mix of those uses, that development should be market driven to ensure its highest and best use.”
Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times The ground floor of 130 Liberty Street is now the only floor.
I’ve seen a few thought provoking sad sights in my time but one of the saddest was riding downtown and seeing the subway platform at the former Trade Center site completely empty and deserted with yellow and black caution tape strung out along the way; as the train I was on rolled slowly past and beyond the former busy location without stopping. It gave me the exact same feeling as funerals I’ve attended did where the casket was placed on display at the dug grave, and the cars in the funeral procession rolled by at a slowly respectful pace and on out through the cemetery gates; with the mourners expected to go on with their lives without the ones they loved. .
As a safe work proponent and a 35 year union carpenter, writing from Vancouver ,BC I have to submit my impression that the iron worker featured in the photo does not seem to be properly tethered to the man basket . This is a hunch based on the clarity of the image. If the worker is hooked onto the railing which is the most common mistake it shows diligent attention to safety but also a need for fine tuning of training. Hopefully in error, Gerry Davies
The names of the 2 Fireman who perished in the 2007 fire should be included in the Memorial, they are direct victims of the 9 / 11 attack.
The idea to move the P.A.C. to this site is a very good one. I fully agree with ms. Menin. The planned P.A.C. on Fulton is surrounded by 3 gigantic buildings on 3 sides and will be expensive to built.
The relocated P.A.C. on Liberty will be facing the new Liberty Park, will be surrounded by smaller buildings and will be less expensive to built. What are you waiting for ??
PS. The Fulton Street P.A.C. site should become a plaza for WTC # 1. The planned plaza is too small for this huge Tower. (I guess Larry S. will be greedy enough to built another giant Tower that will block views from the new WTC # 1 and his own WTC # 7.
Mr. Dunlap-You have covered the WTC and Deutsche Bank projects for the NYT for a number years now, but write as if you had casually happened upon the site and observe someone just loitering on a corner, whiling away his time aimlessly with no place to go and no one waiting on him. Where is your responsibility to note many missed deadlines, the outrageously vacant Assurances of completion dates, the excruciatingly slow progress and failure to dismiss its incapable team, – all before and in the years after the fire. You publish Mr. Schick’s words of interest leaving out how his agencies-he controlled both LMDC and the LMCCC- have ill-managed, if there was any management to speak of, the demolition/ deconstruction.
You mention the Vehicle Security Center but fail to note how many years the Deutsche Bank has held the space needed to proceed, to provide the access way to feed construction of the WTC site. Over 2 years ago when PA Exec Dir Chris Ward mobilized all parties to expedite the road path forward, LMDC/LMCCC gave empty assurances/forecasts . You do not touch on the staggering level of cost over runs and delays to work that the Deutsche Bank represented to the WTC program- quite aside from its own grossly extended costs independent of the costs of the fire. It was a major obstacle to progress on the site, and you say not a word.
This read as if in the Fashion Section reporting on the Spring line, a panorama of the site with pictures of cutting torches and a floor slab, and not any of the news that was fit to print.
A rather remarkable and magical headline: “Deutsche Bank Tower Vanishes.” The removal of this toxic tower was the result of ten years of struggle, government failures of all sorts — on all fronts and all levels, a remarkable lack of leadership through all of the various state administrations Mr. Dunlop notes and, oh yes, a willingness to look the other way at malfeasant contractors.
The villains of the piece, in addition to LMDC, contractor Bovis and subcontractor Galt, include failures of communication and leadership within and between a number of City agencies including Fire and Buildings.
The community, which was seriously concerned with the project from the get-go found itself and its concerns marginalized and ridiculed by public agencies and the media. And when the EPA tried to actually do its job in the waning days of the Pataki administration, it was eventually pressured into acceptance of a simultaneous decontamination and demolition plan that was ill-advised to say the least.
In May of 2006, the community and labor staged a rally for safe demolition at Deutsche Bank (more than a year before the fatal fire that took the lives of FF Robert Beddia and Joe Graffagnino.) The flyer for the rally demanded safety for the workers on the job and the community surrounding the building. The flyer observed that this most difficult demolition job in the city was “no place for inexperience or incompetence.”
It always pains me to hear that building called the “Deutsche Bank building”. That building was and always will be the Bankers Trust building. Deutsche Bank acquired it along with BTCo only a couple of years before 9/11 and abandoned it the first chance they got.
Perley, WHICH subway station are you talking about? If you mean the downtown-bound side of the Cortlandt St. R train station, notice the “left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing” sequence of events there.
They reopened the entire R train station a few years after 9/11. Then they had to close up the entire station again. THEN, they reopened the uptown-bound side, with the other side set to follow late in this year.
When they first reopened that station, there was an underground (outside the fare zone) concourse connecting the E train, R train, and the PATH trains. THAT also disappeared when they re-closed the R station.
It’s a shame it took so long. A total shame. All this while we spent 3000 billions dollars fighting unnecessary wars. Just think what 3000 billions dollars could have done for New York, or the country. It’s such a waste, what a shame.
“The concrete was being steadily broken up Tuesday morning by a remote-controlled demolition robot known by its trade name, Brokk. (Shades of ‘This Island Earth.’)?”
There was a character called BRACK in the colorful, but silly, 1955 sci-fi adventure movie “This Island Earth,” but nobody called “Brokk” — and Brack wasn’t a robot but one of the high-domed alien Metalunans running a fake science research institute that sat atop their buried interstellar spaceship.
Perhaps Mr Dunlap assembled his mail-order Interociter incorrectly and was tuned to the wrong movie.
The NYTIMES continues to perpetuate the myth that Deutsche Bank was responsible for the tragic death of the firemen by continuing to refer to 130 Liberty St as the “Deutsche Bank Building”. The article should refer to this structure and the horrors that occurred there As the “Lower Manhattan Development Corporation Building” The tragedy involving the death of the firefighters was on the watch of LMDC.
Deutsche Bank ceded control of this building in 2004 , 3 years before the fire and tragic death of the firemen. It has taken LMDC almost 7 years to finish the deconstruction. The May of 2006 protest by community and labor in a rally for safe demolition at Deutsche Bank was anger misplaced. Deutsche Bank had no say in the events at the 130 Liberty Street after 2004. Deutsche Bank directly and Bankers Trust indirectly have been villainized as a result of the incompetence of the LMDC .
Your are damn right Avi Schick”“This view was a long time coming”. LMDC shame on you,
Remember that DB and former BT employees were also victims of the terror attack on September 11, 2001.
Thank you to Max Ellis and Namrobal for your articulate and accurate description of the tragic debacle of the deconstruction of this structure. Your opinion of the LMDC/LMCCC management is “right on the money”, (pun intended). The individuals who managed these organizations were and are unfit for this massive project, much like a lawyer performing brain surgery. Compounding their ineptness as you pointed out, was the inexcusable lack of coordination between the EPA, Build. Dept and the Fire Dept. The extreme measures that the EPA required to abate contamination created a deadly enviorment for all Fire Dept. personnel who responded to that tragic fire. Despite statements made to the contrary, I find it very difficult to believe that any FDNY Officer would have approved those measures without other safeguards in place to compliment the abatement requirements: eg: automatic shutdown of the negative pressure fans in the event of fire. The finality of this demolition should not bring cheers but tears for the loss of Firefighters Beddia and Graffignino.
At #16 , , , that building was full of problems from the beginning – asbestots, lead, etc. The ‘over the top’ method of deconstruction insisted upon by state and federal regulators scared away any responsible and legal contractor from bidding on the work.
The Construction Manager, Bovis, and the City of New York were aware of this and had no choice but to hire a shady contractor with mob ties. It was the only contractor who was willing to do the work. Of course, with shady contractors comes shady “un-seasoned” workers ….. which ultimately resulted in unsafe practices.
City of NY and its agencies (FDNY, Building Dept, etc,) were aware of the conditions at the building and turned a blind eye to the work practices there (had to, otherwise the building would have never came down).
SO in the end , , , the city escapes liability; the CM pays a hefty fine; and two Bovis Manager’s are being hung to dry as scapegoats – being charged for the FDNY deaths.
as expected the rhetorical comments just keep spurting from the open sewers some people would call mouths. God forbid someone writes a short article about the status of the Deutsche Bank building (as it’s been called since 9/11) deconstruction without mentioning it’s long and complex history since 9/11. Do you people just like to complain for the sake of complaining or do you have some other agenda you’ve not mentioned?