1 World Trade Center Project: An Inside Look from NJCREA
1 World Trade Center Project: An Inside Look from the NJ Commercial Real Estate Alliance (NJCREA)
Unbelievable. Breathtaking. Overwhelming. Part of history.
Those are just some of the terms used by a quartet of members of the New Jersey Commercial Real Estate Alliance (NJCREA) following a field trip to the construction site of One World Trade Center (WTC) in Lower Manhattan. In addition to the size, scope and complexity of the project, the four – Joel Ives of The Ives Architectural Studio, Jeffrey Reidl of Midland Abstract, Inc., Kevin Hansen of the Hunter Group, and James Heuer of Heuer & Co. – could relate to how all the pieces are coming together.
“With NJCREA, we take a ‘think tank’ approach, focusing on synergistic research to help solve problems,” says Ives. “We look at the big picture,” a reference to all of the professionals involved in any given project. “Usually, the professionals enter into a project in a lineal fashion—the real estate people get the land, title people become involved, then the engineers and construction people get involved in a lineal process.
“Our concept of the ‘big picture’ is that everybody is at the same table at the same time,” Ives says. “That is obviously the approach taken with One World Trade Center, and it’s something we can relate to.”
Indeed, the 1 WTC is much more complex than it appears, according to Ives. “For example, there is so much going on under the ground…utilities, sewer lines, train lines, retaining walls for holding back the Hudson River. The complexity of this structure is unbelievable.”
Riedl agrees. “I have been there several times at different stages, and each visit has surpassed the previous one. This time, being up almost 90 floors, was breathtaking, absolutely incredible.”
“To see a project like this under construction was the chance of a lifetime, especially with the history of what happened here,” says Hansen. “To see all of the pieces, all the effort coming together is absolutely ansamazing.”
The complexity inherent with One WTC begins with logistical issues, says Ives, “subjects you don’t really hear about all the time—union jurisdictional issues, steel had to go before concrete, and so forth.” Then there’s the building itself and all of its interesting components, to a large extent tied to what happened here on 9/11.
“For example, there is a staircase solely designed for first responders,” says Ives. Then there’s the thickness of the concrete walls and the amount of rebar: “The concrete is 14,000 psi,” says Hansen, noting that the concrete is coming from New Jersey. “In comparison, the Empire State Building is 3,000 psi. Also, the core of the building housing the elevators and stairs is built in such a way that they won’t have the same issues as the original WTC and other buildings in an emergency.”
Also, 1 WTC will have no underground parking—and no driving in and around the building. “It will be surrounded by pedestrian walkways with retail, office and residential – in effect, a planned community,” says Hansen.
“What’s particularly interesting is that the building architecture and everything about it is a response to the horrible events of 9/11,” says Ives. “We were able to see that before all of the sheetrock goes up and the ceilings get hung. The guts of the building is the interesting part. The elevators weren’t even in operation yet – we had to go up and down in a construction elevator and walk from floor to floor on a temporary fire escape.”
“It is truly state-of-the-art, new wave construction,” says Reidl. “It is the most advanced construction technology that is available today.”
‘This visit was a great opportunity to see all of the processes used to build as building like that,” says Ives. “For example, there are so many temporary elements – temporary electrical lines, elevators, pipes used to pump the concrete up from down below. As an architect, you draw the finished product, but architects and designers in the U.S. never really get involved in the process and the sequences of how the construction is done.
“When you walk on the site and see hundreds of people, you wonder how anything gets done,” Ives. “At first glance, it seems chaotic, but everyone seems to know what their job is. The building grows each day—somehow, it all works.
Which returns the theme to NJCREA. “One of the techniques NJCREA uses for very difficult projects is to bring the multi-disciplines to the conference table,” Ives explains. “All of us, coming from different professions, will attack any problems in that fashion. The key is we don’t have a linear process where I might never meet the guy who does the title closings, for example. But he has his own 30+ years of experience in this industry, has seen a lot, and may have a lot of valuable information to solve problems for our clients.
“You can talk to architects who never in their careers have ever sat at the same table with some of the same people we sit with—the title professional, or the appraiser, the finance people, the building maintenance company,and so forth,” he continues. “It’s the same in reverse, and that’s how we attack the big picture – all of us looking at it together and seeing a complex project like 1 WTC and the way it all ties in is a learning experience.
“Individuals can only excel in their professional careers by seeing the big picture,” Ives concludes. “Professionals involved with complex projects can see the big picture a lot better by looking at other projects and learn from it, and that was important benefit of this trip”.