Sky-high grime: Durst can’t wash windows of 1 WTC

System used to wash skyscraper's windows is broken

Dirty windows at One World Trade Center (illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for <em>The Real Deal</em>)
Dirty windows at One World Trade Center (illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for The Real Deal)

One of the most iconic modern skyscrapers in New York City hasn’t had a proper bath in a year.

A majority of the windows at One World Trade Center haven’t been washed since 2015, because the system used to suspend the washers isn’t safe, a representative for the Durst Organization [TRDataCustom] told The Real Deal. Typically, a boom at the top of the building lowers a window-washing rig that moves horizontally as the boom moves along a track on the roof. But in early 2016, Durst noticed that welding in the track — where pieces of metal are joined together — was riddled with cracks. The track, built in 2013, also has undersized bolts and suffers from other design flaws, said Jordan Barowitz, a spokesperson for Durst.

“The window washing units at One World Trade Center have failed and are being replaced,” Barowitz said in a statement. The developer is in the process of finding a company that will build a new system, which is expected to cost millions of dollars (though a total price has yet to be determined).

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Typically, skyscrapers will have their windows washed once or twice a year, so skipping a year isn’t quite as dramatic as it sounds. Still, until the system is replaced, 1 WTC will have to wait to wash off the grime of 2016.

1 WTC has had issues with window washing in the past. In 2014, two window washers were stranded for over an hour on a dangling scaffold at the 68th floor. At the time, the incident was attributed to a cable malfunction, and Barowitz said the issue was unrelated to the track design issues now at hand.

Luckily for tourists paying upwards of $28 to travel to the tower’s 102nd floor, the building has an auxiliary system that washes the uppermost windows, including the observatory. So, views for them will remain unsullied by whatever detritus is usually flung at 1,000-plus foot buildings.