Wednesday, February 1, 2012

World-Class Design Flaw Discovered at 1 WTC

The loading docks at 1 WTC can't be connected to the underground Vehicle Security Center that the Port Authority is building. The temporary PATH station stands in the way of the vehicle tunnel and cannot be dismantled until the huge, way-behind-schedule Transportation Hub is completed — which won't happen before 2015. Even after the temporary station is taken down, the Port Authority still will not be able to build the underground road until a foundation is poured for the Performing Arts Center, which will stand where the PATH now stands.

Contrary to what has been expected at all the new WTC towers; the temporary dock won’t connect to the underground Vehicle Security Center that the PA is building just south of the 16-acre WTC site. 

The underground loading dock to 1 World Trade Center, future home of Condé Nast, can’t be finished in time for the media company and other tenants to use the planned 13 cargo bays to move in equipment to build out their space. As a result, the Port Authority is scrambling to construct a temporary, aboveground loading dock with just five bays. The unexpected change in plans will add “tens of millions” of dollars to the cost of building 1 WTC.

Although all vehicles bound for the towers are supposed to be screened for bombs and other terrorist threats at the
Vehicle Security Center, the NYPD — that is responsible for security at the WTC in collaboration with the Port Authority — is said to have no objection to the aboveground dock. Commissioner Ray Kelly in the past strongly asserted the NYPD's role at the site — even requiring the redesign and relocation of 1 WTC seven years ago, when it was still called the Freedom Tower.

The temporary dock also means that workers will need to wheel equipment in and out through a door in the tower’s base, which is being clad in a glass-and-concrete facade. Although the design has yet to be shown, it is intended as an important aesthetic element of the project and was not supposed to host cargo deliveries.

A spokesperson for the Port Authority said the loading dock problem was not recognized until about a year ago. Why it took so long to figure out was unclear.

On Monday, The Wall Street Journal reported that 1 WTC’s construction cost recently rose by $700 million to $3.8 billion. Now we know where some of that increase came from.

Unlike the WTC Transportation Hub nearby, which is costing nearly as much, 1 WTC is a project with a purpose: to provide state-of-the-art office facilities in a city desperately in need of them. However, news of a rushed change in plans as the tower nears its 104-story height is the last thing the embattled
Port Authority, facing a scathing audit, needs.

Port Authority officials insist the dock delay will not interfere with tenants moving into their space by early 2015 — or with leasing the roughly 900,000 square feet that remain up for grabs in the 3.05 million square-foot tower.