One57 crane had 80 percent chance of falling

Behind the scenes, drama unfolded as engineers worked to secure crane

TRD New York /
Nov.November 07, 2012 03:00 PM

It appears that the boom of the One57 crane – an enduring image of last week’s storm – was alarmingly close to plummeting 1,000 feet to street level. Building engineer Michael Alacha estimated it had an 80 percent chance of falling, the New York Times reported, in a play-by-play account of what transpired at the site during the storm.

“In my mind, the boom was going to go,” said Alacha, who was on the scene at One57 shortly after the collapse. “We still had another 6 to 10 hours of severe wind,” he added. “It was rocking. Usually, metal gets fatigued and it would let go.”

Alacha wasn’t alone at One57. Two other men — Nicholas Grecco, a senior vice president at Lend Lease, the site’s construction company, and Timothy Lynch, who leads the Department of Buildings’ forensic engineering unit, had rushed to the scene and ran up the stairs together amid high-speed storm winds to assess the damage. Lynch barely avoided an open hatch on the way up. The ties holding the crane’s mast seemed to hold up well after the collapse, but the boom remained a concern.

Later, officials began the hours-long process of shutting down the gas main at street level and evacuating people from nearby properties. The following day, Alacha once again climbed to the top of the building and saw that the mast was not in danger of falling down. On Saturday, the crane was secured.

As previously reported, surrounding buildings reopened last weekend.

“We are grateful that 57th Street and the surrounding areas are reopened and all of our neighbors were able to return safely,” Extell said in a statement provided to The Real Deal today. [NYT]Zachary Kussin

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