Byline: Jim Lucy, Editor; Sarah Tobaben Dolash, Managing Editor; and Amy Florence Fischbach, EC&M staff w
Maybe it was the college summers I spent sweeping sawdust, making coffee runs and working as a "gofer" on construction jobs that first gave me an eye for unusual construction jobs. While working for a test boring and drilling company that gathered core samples of rock, I spent a summer working on an offshore drilling platform two miles off the coast of New Hampshire, and another summer living in a cabin on the Allagash River in northern Maine on the Canadian border while drilling for potential sources of aggregate for a dam that was never built. I even spent several weeks underground, inside a dam in upstate New York, cleaning out vent holes drilled into a shelf of shale on which the dam was built, to release the methane gas percolating through the rock.
It could have been the many dinner table conversations my family had about New York metropolitan-area construction projects because of my father's career in the surety bonding business. Or perhaps it was the cold winter day my dad took me and my two brothers to the World Trade Center construction site to get a first glimpse of what would be a mammoth building when it was first growing out of Manhattan's bedrock.
Some way, somehow, I became really interested in construction projects. It was only natural when I came to Electrical Wholesaling in 1982 that I particularly enjoyed article assignments that offered opportunities to visit construction sites with electrical distributors to see how they handled the delivery and logistics for construction jobs.
It wasn't only the big jobs that were of interest. In fact, in some ways, the smaller jobs were just as much fun to cover.
Kennedy Electrical Supply's Jerry Eichwald once took me to the sub-basement of the Gimbels department store on Manhattan's Herald Square to meet the electrician who got the store back on line during a power outage a day before Macy's across the street. Kennedy had supplied the generators.
Years later, Eichwald took me to the site of an office being built for a zillionaire commodities trader who bought and sold coffee futures. The trader insisted on having his own espresso machine so he could sample the coffee he was buying and selling. Workers were putting in the plumbing lines for the machine the day of my visit.
While visiting a Wall Street bank vault to see the installation of under-carpet wiring, I was thrown off the job site by a union electrical contractor who didn't want me taking photographs inside the vault.
One of the reasons I find construction jobs - big and small - so interesting is because they put electrical distributors to the test, and give them ample opportunity to walk all the talk about the importance of having the right inventory when and where the customer needs it.
John Moore, who was president of Moore Electric Supply, Charlotte, N.C., (now part of Hughes Supply) once told me that one of the biggest challenges for an electrical distributor on a big construction job is keeping the service level high throughout a project that can span a year or more. Moore said the customer will easily forget your impeccable sourcing and delivery throughout the life of a construction job if your truck shows up on the job site the day before the inspector's final walk-through of the job loaded with the wrong receptacle plates or cracked lenses for the light fixtures.
Despite a still-sluggish construction climate gripping many metropolitan areas, plenty of interesting construction jobs have recently been completed. This article showcases several of these jobs. They aren't always the biggest job in the world, but they all have unique features that make them in some way notable or perhaps a bit unusual.
If you supplied or are currently supplying an interesting construction project and would like Electrical Wholesaling to feature it, please call me at (913) 967-1743 or e-mail me at email@example.com. - Jim Lucy
THE BIGGEST TROPHY JOB OF THEM ALL
World Trade Center, New York
One of the highest profile trophy jobs ever built in the United States will be the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, expected to break ground later this year at the World Trade Center site. The building is expected to have 2.6 million square feet of commercial space and be completed in 2008. Wind turbines will generate 20 percent of the building's electrical power needs.
Another project is well underway at the WTC site - 7 World Trade Center, a 1.7-million-square-foot office building.
Leonard Impastato, a 40-year electrical industry veteran employed by Five Star Electric, works with John McManus, the general foreman, to supervise a team of 45 electricians on the landmark $700 million initial rebuild of the World Trade Center.
"There's a real spirit of cooperation that you normally wouldn't see on a construction project," Impastato says. "You can almost feel it when you walk through the area. It's heartening to see the area coming back and becoming more and more vibrant. Every week I go down there I see an increased level of activity."
Five Star, E-J Electric Installation Co., and Zwicker Electric are providing electrical, lighting and control services for the construction of 7 World Trade (7 WTC).
The destruction of the Twin Towers structurally weakened 7 WTC, which was built on top of a substation building that supplied electricity to downtown Manhattan. The construction crew leveled the existing building and cleared the land for the new 7 WTC.
Five Star and E-J Electric are preparing the space for the Con Ed utility substation, which will include five 138kV transformers. Once that phase is complete, Zwicker will provide electrical services for the core of the 50-story, parallelogram-shaped high-rise, which will be built on the footprint of the former 7 WTC and the surrounding area.
Dwight Millman, a project manager for E-J Electric, says his team faced many challenges in the initial phases of the project. Because the team was working on the site of the wreckage of an existing building, it was difficult to safely access the job site. The construction workers also encountered underground obstructions, remnants of the former building, and massive amounts of groundwater. To make the building structurally sound and protect it against future possible attacks, the engineers specified that many of the walls be 2 feet thick in the lower levels of the building. The first five floors were constructed of poured concrete, and a steel-based structure will be built on top of this foundation to form the shell of the building.
"There are massive amounts of concrete from the cellar to floor," Impastato says. "It looks like a fortress."
On a traditional high-rise construction project, a team builds one floor at a time, but on the 7 WTC project, the electricians are working on four or five different floors simultaneously. Five Star is installing thousands of feet of cable tray, conduit, and power and control cable, putting in lighting fixtures, and placing conduit into the poured concrete.
E-J Electric, the Long Island City, N.Y.-based firm that installed the security system for the original WTC, is providing a temporary service of 4,000A for the initial and future phases of construction, installing nine miles of conduit for medium-voltage and high-voltage distribution duct banks and putting in 8-foot by 8-foot horizontal ground plates and ground rods for lightning protection.
Last December, New York's governor and mayor led a "topping off" ceremony to celebrate the end of the first phase of the project - the completion of the five-story concrete base of the building.
New York Governor George Pataki said the Consolidated Edison power substation located in 7 World Trade Center is expected to begin service by the end of May, replacing equipment destroyed in the attack. - Amy Florence Fischbach
St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at Skaggs Catholic Center, Draper, Utah
Although Consolidated Electrical Distributors' Monte Robertson, outside salesperson, didn't really consider St. John the Baptist Catholic Church a high-profile job for CED, this contemporary Catholic church certainly qualifies as a trophy job for the lighting designer on the project.
Joseph M. "Jody" Good, of Spectrum Engineers, Salt Lake City, won the prestigious 2003 GE Edison Award from GE Lighting for his work on the church.
The lighting for this new 32,000-square-foot contemporary worship space was designed to complement the extensive natural daylighting. The lighting maintains the open feel of the architecture, brings intimacy to the space as required and has enough flexibility to accommodate a range of activities - from education to worship.