Damage Assessment - Focus Shifting to Scrutiny of Utilities of WTC-Area Buildings
October 01, 2001

By Staff
Appeared in Engineering News-Record

Initial damage assessment surveys are complete for 406 buildings in the zone around the wreckage of the World Trade Center. Now, attention is starting to focus on the conditions of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in the affected buildings.

Over the next few weeks, M-E-P engineers will assess the condition of building infrastructure "to determine its fitness to be brought back into operation," predicts John F. Hennessy III, chairman-CEO of M-E-P engineer Syska Hennessy Group, Inc., New York City.

The firm has already done some preliminary surveys for clients located in buildings in the area around the impact zone, says Hennessy. "We did a look-see at 140 West Street," occupied by telecommunications company Verizon, to determine whether the M-E-P systems could be salvaged, he says. Damage was extensive.

After finishing an initial damage assessment of 406 buildings, structural engineers organized by the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and representatives of the city's Dept. of Buildings went back on Sept. 21 to inspect 31 buildings that needed a closer look (ENR 9/24 p.11).

The building reportedly in the worst shape, outside the partially collapsed Four, Five and Six WTC, is the centerpiece of the World Financial Center. Inspectors list the 125-ft-tall, arched truss and glass-sheathed Winter Garden in partial collapse and recommend shoring, debris removal and a sidewalk bridge along the east facade.

Nine other buildings have major damage, although not necessarily structural. They include Two and Three WFC; the Bankers Trust Building at 130 Liberty Street; and the Verizon Building at 140 West Street. Other buildings with major damage are the Gateway building at 395 South End Avenue; 120 Cedar Street; 114 Liberty Street; 130 Cedar Street; 90 West Street; and 30 West Broadway.

The Winter Garden and Three WFC, called the Amex Building, were completed in the mid-1980s. They are part of a 14-acre complex designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates, New Haven, Conn. (ENR 3/7/85 p. 28).

Contrary to early reports, the 54-story One Liberty Plaza and the Millennium Hilton have only moderate damage.

The rapid visual inspection will be repeated again later this week to determine whether there have been any changes in conditions.