The MTA toured the students through the Dey Concourse
Fifteen 11th graders (and one 10th grader) braved a 20-degree January day to get a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Lower Manhattan’s biggest construction projects. The students were chosen from the tops of their classes at the High School for Construction Trades, Engineering and Architecture in Ozone Park, Queens, to take the January 14th tour and get a plain view of life building some the city’s tallest and most complex structures.
Organized by the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center (LMCCC), the group was invited to go behind the scenes at the Fulton Street Transit Center’s Dey Street Concourse, Beekman Tower, and 7 World Trade Center (WTC), and hear presentations on the multiple WTC developments.
“We put this tour together as part of our Opportunity Downtown program,” said LMCCC Executive Director Bob Harvey. “The program aims to diversify the downtown construction workforce in different ways, and this was a chance for us to extend the opportunity to teenagers on their way to construction-related careers. These are New York’s future architects, engineers, and trades people -- we’re glad we had the opportunity to help show them the ropes.”
Donning their hard hats, the students, their two chaperones, LMCCC hosts, and project managers descended into the recently formed Dey Street Concourse tunnel. The 29-foot-wide tunnel is now a bare concrete box stretching from the Fulton Street 4/5 southbound platform (fenced off within the station) all the way to a mezzanine below the Cortlandt Street R/W station, where it will eventually connect to the WTC Transportation Hub.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) project managers led the tour, explaining why crews had to close Dey Street for more than three years while crews excavated 50 feet deep, relocated utilities, formed the massive pedestrian tunnel, and finally rebuilt the sidewalks and roadway last fall. MTA Project Executive Uday Durg, P.E., said that finishing work such as infrastructure, finishes, elevators, and the Dey Street headhouse will ramp up later in 2009.
The students then headed to the Civic Center area, where they climbed aboard hoists at Beekman Tower (8 Spruce Street) on their way up to the 29th floor of the now 32-story skyscraper. Under construction since October 2006, the Frank Gehry–designed tower will be one of the more eye-catching on the downtown skyline. It will be one of the tallest in the city at 76 stories, and be clad in undulating stainless-steel panels.
Developer Forest City Ratner hosted that leg of the tour, which was led by Joe Rechichi, senior vice president of construction and design development. Rechichi explained some of the issues behind building tall in New York City -- from how concrete is pumped up from ground level to form the structure, to how hydraulic systems enable crews to “jump the crane” (make it taller) as the building is erected.
“It was a very successful day of helping prepare these students for jobs in the construction field,” said Beverly Bobb, the LMCCC’s Opportunity Downtown manager. “The tour was a means for them to experience first hand the wide range of careers they can pursue after graduation.”
From the field the students headed to 7 WTC, the Silverstein Properties tower that was rebuilt after 9/11 and opened in spring 2006. Communications Director Dara McQuillan toured the group through the building, showing them the view from the 52nd floor, as well as the “WTC Design Team Studio,” where dozens of designers for each of the three east-side towers work side by side.
Port Authority Assistant Director of WTC Construction Quentin Brathwaite followed with a presentation of the other WTC projects, including the Hub, 1 WTC (Freedom Tower), and the National 9/11 Memorial. Standing on the 10th floor of 7 WTC, the students got a bird’s-eye view of the 16-acre site, and a better sense of the unparalleled coordination effort that is inherent to its rebuilding.
“You could think this job might be easy,” said Siva Gunasegaram, 16, who hopes to one day design his own skyscrapers. “But once you see the work sites, you see it’s all about the different trades working together, making all the moving parts meet.”