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Return to: 2001 Feature Stories

CLIENT: LAW COMPANIES GROUP, INC.

Dec. 5, 2001: Buildings

UNSUNG HEROES

We close this year, wishing you all good things, both professionally and personally, and offer an upbeat glimpse at the remediation, relocation, and rebuilding efforts under way in New York City following the events of September 11. Here's one story:

A major financial firm that suffered extensive damage to two of its New York City buildings - one a headquarters facility and the other a data center, both located near "Ground Zero" of the World Trade Center collapse -- is now up and running, due to the extraordinary efforts of an emergency response team from Atlanta-based Law Engineering and Environmental Services.

The day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Law's Albany, NY office received an urgent call requesting an immediate assessment of the structural and mechanical systems and indoor air quality condition in the company's two office towers. One of the buildings is a 40-plus-story structure constructed in the 1930s. The data center, dispersed among five floors of a 20-story facility built in the early 1980s, suffered collateral damage from the collapse of World Trade Center 7.

Getting to the sites was a challenge in itself. With air traffic at a standstill, emergency response team members from as far away as Dallas and Miami had to drive around the clock. According to Law Senior Vice President Fred Krishon, a 25-member team was on-site within 15 hours of the call. "We were one of the first non-government teams to gain access to the buildings in the 'hot zone' and to perform comprehensive structural, mechanical, and environmental surveys of the affected buildings."

In the headquarters building, the end-user's mandate was to quickly assess, evaluate abatement criteria, develop a plan, and oversee contractors on-site to deal with any potential toxic substances that may have permeated the building from outside sources. Selected floors needed to be operational by Monday, Sept. 17, 9:30 a.m., when the New York Stock Exchange was slated to re-open. The Law team set to work to collect samples and evaluate the conditions.

In less than 48 hours, temporary retrofits were made to the mechanical system of the building to prevent further dust contamination from outside. Teams worked round the clock and when the opening bell rang on Monday morning, six important floors were ready for business - two more than originally thought was needed. By the end of the week, the entire building was cleared for reoccupancy. Conversely, because of the proximity of the data center to the disaster scene, this project proved to be a larger challenge, but, at press time, was about to be reopened.

Although the scale and magnitude of the September 11 tragedies will remain incomprehensible, small success stories, such as this one, offer us determination and resolution to create and recreate the built symbols of our culture where we live, learn, and work.

Return to: 2001 Feature Stories