The sky may be the limit when it comes to constructing cloud-skimming Manhattan luxury condos, but when a storm strikes, it’s the sidewalks below that developers need to worry about. In the last month, our eyes and cameras were fearfully focused on One57′s dangling crane boom, but it’s not the first time that high winds have made it mortally dangerous to walk beneath an under-construction skyscraper. Back in April 2004, a freakish wind storm—gusts of 34 mph were recorded in Central Park—dislodged construction material from an upper floor of the still-under-construction Time Warner Center.
Perhaps the most remarkable difference between the two incidents was Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reaction. In the case of the Time Warner Center, he chastised the developer and ordered work stopped immediately. After the One57 incident, he defended Extell, noting that high wind gusts often cause blameless accidents (which, to be fair, may well be the case and gusts during Sandy did reach 60 mph).
For the past few hours, New Yorkers’ eyes have been trained on the skies, or at least their TV and computer screens. No, they are not watching out for the eye of the storm but the crane that Hurricane Sandy has dislodged in Midtown Manhattan. The boom of the crane attached to the billionaire-beloved One57 snapped back earlier today and has been hanging precariously ever since, but it has yet to break free, and the hope is that will be the situation until the storm passes.
At a press briefing this evening, Mayor Bloomberg said all buildings on West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues have been evacuated, as well as “exposed buildings” on the same block of West 56th Street. Among the buildings evacuated were a hotel and some apartment and office buildings. “We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but better safe than sorry,” Mayor Bloomberg said.
The accident occurred at 2:35 p.m. today, according to a statement from Lend Lease, the general contractor on the project, the tallest apartment building in the city, at 1,005 feet, and also home to the most expensive sale ever, more than $90 million for the penthouse.
Mayor Bloomberg said the surrounding area had been secured, with steam, electricity and gas all being shut off to prevent any additional damage should the crane’s boom come loose.
Best Laid Plans
Last Thursday, a wooden formwork, or cast, for a concrete wall inside one of *Manhattan’s many new hotels broke. This sent a cascade of concrete into one of the city’s grand not-quite-new-but-not-old hotels, Le Parker Meridien. The construction accident on West 56th Street put quite a damper on things inside the hotel where, as the Post points out, rooms cost $600 per night and, The Times adds,a hot chocolate is $6 at the Knave cafe, where the foot-thick flood of liquid stone settled, and began to harden.
Fortunately no one was injured in the accident. “One second, I’m sitting there having a cappuccino and the next moment, we are running for our lives,” Bernard Gershon, a West Sider who had met a friend for coffee, told the Post. Had something bad befallen the cafe guests, it would have been tragic not simply for the pain and suffering but because none of them are supposed to be there anyway.
The Knave Cafe, with its red satin drapes, lushly upholstered chairs and “deliciously diabolical drinks,” as the menu declares, has yet to reopen, and hotel staff could not yet say when it would. Perhaps never would be best. The Knave Cafe, it turns out, is kind of illegal.
Blame it on the builders.
Breeze International, the firm demolishing a Manhattanville building for Columbia that collapsed yesterday and claimed one life, just released a statement addressing the cause of the accident. The firm’s investigation found that an unusual construction configuration appears to be the reason the building was destabilized and collapsed.
Because the structural beam the demo crew severed was not properly connected to the rest of the structure, when it was cut, everything else came down around it. Breeze points to a lack of construction drawings from when the building was built between eight and 10 decades ago as to why the unusual connection was not initially recognized.
The new Columbia campus in Manhattanville has had its share of problems from community protests to eminent domain lawsuits. Now comes the worst incident yet, as a building being demolished by the university collapsed today, trapping three construction workers inside, according to DNAinfo, one of whom died shortly after being pulled from the rubble.
Monday saw the first construction fatality of the year, when a cinder block wall on a work site in Queens collapsed on top of three construction workers, killing one of them. As The Times details today, Hedilberto Sánchez was one of four brothers from Mexico who work construction–all, it so happens, on the Read More