Rising From the Ashes of 9/11

Ten years have passed since the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and while we will never forget the events of that day, the scars are healing.

Construction is underway on One World Trade Center, which towers 80 stories high, on the site known as Ground Zero. It is already the tallest building in Lower Manhattan and is rising at a rate of about one story per week. New York-area electrical contractors are part of the team of thousands rebuilding the site, which includes six new skyscrapers and a 9/11 memorial.

Some electrical contractors on the site have a personal connection to its reconstruction; they were there when the Twin Towers came down a decade ago.

E-J Electric Installation Co., Long Island City, for example, has a long history with the site. About 12 of its staff members occupied an office at the original World Trade Center, where they monitored the security system the company provided to the Twin Towers. On Sept. 11, nine company employees were on site, and they all evacuated the towers before the collapse. However, it took some time until the employees were accounted for, said company president Tony Mann. He said the wait to learn of their fate made Sept. 11 the longest day of his life. Now, at least one of those men, General Foreman Augie Calabro, is working on the reconstruction.

A rebirth
The site has been an unprecedented hub of activity this year. Contractors including Five Star Electric Corp., Ozone Park, N.Y.; Hugh O’Kane Electric Co. Inc., Long Island City; and E-J Electric Installation, have brought power and light to the 16-acre plot in Lower Manhattan, initially in the form of temporary electrical power as the initial debris was cleaned up in 2001, to the ongoing construction.

The new World Trade Center is expected to match the grandeur of the original Twin Towers, while commemorating the lives of those who perished there. The site includes a 9/11 memorial plaza at the base of One World Trade Center and a memorial museum. The memorial building and museum, at 1 Liberty Plaza, will open within the next year; the memorial plaza was dedicated at a Sept. 11, 2011, ceremony.

The fine details
One World Trade Center, at 104 stories, is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2013. At Two World Trade Center, contractors are building the basement, with similar progress at Three World Trade Center. Four World Trade Center stands more than 23 stories and is rising one story per week, while the new Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) train hub is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Five Star Electric is installing Alcan Cable electric cables at One World Trade Center and is providing electrical installation at tower four and some additional lighting outside the towers. Five Star also is installing the power and emergency backup for all the electrical subsystems—such as fire alarm, security and all the mechanical, elevator and plumbing systems—to support the base-building operation and the future tenant fit-out of One World Trade Center.

Zwicker Electric Co. Inc., New York, provided power for Seven World Trade Center, which opened in 2006 as a 52-story green tower, the base of which is a parallelogram covering one city block. A Con Edison substation occupies the first 10 floors, supplying electricity to other buildings in Lower Manhattan.

For the 2011 Christmas season, Five Star Electric also installed a lighting display by trading out the existing clear bulbs with tinted ones in a broad array of colors that went beyond the traditional red and green to something more dynamic for the diverse people of New York.

E-J Electric wired Two World Trade Center, while Smalls Electrical Construction Inc. of Brooklyn provided lighting to the WTC PATH train station and distribution power for the trades.

E-J has done a lot of work on the site. Directly following Sept. 11, E-J provided emergency power at one of the four quadrants on the site and then built the electric system for the temporary PATH station. The company has provided power for Two World Trade Center on the northeast corner of the site, a building that covers 750,000 square feet. The company has been constructing the power link in the Fulton and Dey Street Passageway that will connect the Fulton Street Transit Center, a block to the east, with the World Trade Center transportation hub servicing the PATH trains. Finally, E-J is constructing the Greenwich Street Corridor and Cortlandt Street Station, Northbound Platform.

E-J recently reopened an office on the fourth and fifth floors of the transit division building that overlooks the WTC site, Mann said.

“It’s such an amazing view. You’ve never seen so much construction on one site,” he said.

E-J has about 50 workers on-site with expectations of sending up to 100 at peak.

Hugh O’Kane Electric completed the electrical installation at the 9/11 memorial. The company has installed incoming electric services for the WTC memorial and museum. It also has provided electric service for various WTC infrastructure projects. The museum project included installation of the feeder cable for the 15-kilovolt (kV) services connecting to 480-volt panels and in substations connected to switchboard and subdistribution boards. The work was completed in March 2011. In August, the company installed lighting for the Sept. 11 ceremony along the fence line and provided power to outlets. The plaza was open for the ceremony with two operating waterfalls, lit by Five Star Electric-installed lighting.

Hugh O’Kane Electric also will have completed installing permanent 15-kV feeders from Tower One to the memorial by the end of the year. The project is intended to replace the existing power from the north temporary access, said Bob Tufel, project manager.

Clearly, the electrical contractors are contributing to a new life for Ground Zero that both honors the fallen and conveys a message of American resilience.

SWEDBERG is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at claireswedberg@msn.com.  

About the Author

Claire Swedberg

Freelance Writer
Claire Swedberg is a freelance writer based in western Washington. She can be reached at claire_swedberg@msn.com .

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