Crane Accident Near WTC Site Injures Architect

Newsday - December 15, 2007

by JOHN VALENTI and THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

A crane dropped seven tons of steel Friday onto a trailer where an investment banking company is building a tower across the street from ground zero, injuring an architect working inside, officials said.

The accident occured at 200 Vesey Street, near the intersection of Washington and briefly closed streets in the area.

A spokesman for the Fire Department of New York, Tony Sclafani, said the architect was taken to St. Vincent's Hospital in critical condition. Tishman officials declined to release his name or identify the firm where he worked.

The nylon sling that was carrying the materials -- 25- to 30-foot-long pieces of galvanized steel -- "appears to have snapped," Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said Friday.

The sling's broken straps were hanging from the crane after the accident outside the future world headquarters of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The crane was lifting the materials to the 13th floor of the building, which now stands 30 stories high, said Richard Kielar, spokesman for the tower's builder, Tishman Construction Corp. The metal studs were to be used to build shaft walls at the skyscraper's core.

The sling was carrying a 14,000-pound load and is designed to carry 19,000 pounds, according to the city Buildings Department, which issued a stop-work order for crane operations at the site.

Construction on the tower, designed to house 9,000 employees and to rise to 43 stories, began in 2005.

The $2 billion tower, just across the street from the signature Freedom Tower being built to replace the World Trade Center, was considered a crucial anchor to the redevelopment of downtown Manhattan after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

After agreeing to become the first major firm to relocate its world headquarters near the site, the bank changed its mind, saying it had security concerns about a tunnel that was to be built at ground zero which would face it.

In 2005, state and city officials agreed to pay Goldman Sachs $1.65 billion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and offered millions in other incentives for the firm's commitment to move downtown.

Politicians later said they would never offer as lucrative a deal again for companies seeking to move downtown, but that the Goldman Sachs deal was warranted because the company inspired confidence in the area.