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 Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal 

Paperbacknovel contributor Dick Sheppard, who works in an office directly overlooking the World Trade Center site, hopes to track progress of the ascent of Freedom Tower, which at 1776 feet will be [more]

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Building Freedom Tower

April 2007 Installment of the Monthly Journal 

[Read the sidebar, Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal for introduction]

By Dick Sheppard

Period ending 4/13/07 

As usual, plenty of bustling activity in all the major Lower Manhattan construction sites, and even a notable change on the Freedom Tower site itself (more below). The Post's Steve Cuozzo reported the week of 4/2/07 about the WTC site. His latest article described how the Chinese company Vantone, which was very close to taking space in the already built 7WTC, is back in the game across the WTC site. Vantone may be hoping to turn the rebuilt WTC into a "Chinese-centric" complex; Cuozzo could only speculate based on limited info coming from Vantone. The Chinese, awash in economic prosperity, could, one imagines, plunk down $10 billion and buy the entire set of buildings from Freedom Tower to the remaining 4 towers to be built. That would inspire the PA to build Freedom Tower for sure, and perhaps Larry S. to build his remaining 3 Church Street towers. It's a great dynamic if this new money makes the rebuilt WTC not just viable but thriving. Better still if they build it that much faster. 

Just after the previous entry, the tower crane attached to the "Pataki-bloomberg" Deutsche Bank building swung into action and began dismantling this ill-starred skyscraper. The crane hoisted a mini-backhoe up onto the roof, and it is up there demolitioning away. The backhoe on the roof is an interesting counterpart to the many backhoes in the WTC site and also in the sub-street pedestrian-ways construction. There's backhoes underground, in-ground, on-ground, and way, way above ground. These versatile machines make the work much faster, especially shaping the rock cuts on the floor of the WTC site. 

The Deutsche Bank tower crane for the most part hoists large 40-yard dumpsters up onto the Deutsch roof, where floor plate sheets and all sorts of interior building debris are tossed in. Then the crane returns the dumpster to street level, where a larger grappler-style back-hoe picks through the debris and loads it on tractor-trailer-sized dumpsters. They are really going at it over there, noticeable progress at the end of week one, and more now near the end of week four. They are picking away, hollowing it out and occasionally breaking off sections of the steel skeleton. I can see why it's predicted the Deutsch will come down by the end of this year; that was the schedule. There were some delays, but they are making up for it. 

Crane work on Deutsch building - week Four

Within the Freedom Tower footprint, workers have constructed a massive steel structure that is only about 20-25 feet tall maybe, it's triangular in shape and looks like some kind of critical building element. To the top of this pyramidal base, they've attached a cage-like steel tower. This looks as if it will be in the very center of the Freedom Tower, this must be a critical stabilizing element where it's placed. There may be a chance to get onto the site in the next several weeks; finding out what that structure is will be a priority to-do. 

Word comes too that the "Survivors' Stairs," or "Vesey Stairs," the last remaining piece of the original WTC complex, are being moved to a location in Battery Park City. I hope these stairs can be preserved; it will cost millions to move them, and it's uncertain what their ultimately fate will be. But for now, they will be preserved, and worthily so, even if I'm not the person spending the millions to preserve them.

Also in the WTC site, the wall for the westernmost PATH platform to come has been extended, and the most active section inside the west bathtub is the section right where the PATH train emerges from its tunnel into the site. 

There, lots of concrete and rebar are embedded into the previously jack-hammered cuts, so there are structures taking shape, and it's still difficult to determine how they will fit into the final reconstruction.

Street construction

On the east side of Broadway between John and Fulton, work continues on removing buildings for the Fulton Transit Hub. 200 Broadway, I think is the address, is gone. Preparations to demo the tall building at 198 Broadway, 11 stories, thin, old, are underway. Somebody is going to score a bunch of used A/C's -- they are in practically ever window in that old building. At about the 4th story level, beams have been shoved out through the wall, presumably anchored into the interior steel. Planks were laid across these beams, and atop the planks, scaffold arises. This seems like a rickety set up, scaffold on top of planked beams, but I can see the scaffolding itself is being tied into the building. Still, it doesn't look like the place where you want to work, on thin scaffolding alongside a thin building that will gradually come down, like the "Pataki-bloomberg."

Corbin & 198 Broadway with scaffold

There is a lot of underground concrete-pouring underway. At Broadway and Cortlandt, right near two of the entrances to the building I'm in, One Liberty Plaza, an entire floor of concrete and rebar has been poured, that's a vast open space right at the Broadway/Cortlandt intersection. 

Cement funnel.

When the concrete is poured, it's usually through long plastic funnels, which allows the crews to bring the concrete right to its final setting place, as opposed to lugging it around in wheelbarrows. The funnels have a square opening with long tube sections. Sometimes the crews don't even open the street to pour the concrete, the funnel sits inside a manhole and the cement trucks pour the stuff right into the funnel. Fast, tidy, and labor-saving.

 

Freedom Tower center element from PATH platform.

Work Above and Under ground - Broadway looking north at Cortlandt

 

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