Volume 18 • Issue 28 | Nov. 25 - Dec. 2, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Glass fell from the damaged Deutsche Building onto the street last week, the second such incident in the last 14 months. Officials with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation say new safeguards have been implemented to prevent a third incident.

Falling Deutsche glass hits Albany St.

By Ronda Kaysen

Fragments of glass fell from the former Deutsche Bank building onto a sidewalk shed and onto Albany St. last week. Although there were no injuries, the incident raised concerns from neighborhood residents about safety at the building, which is being demolished.

The 40-story tower, at 130 Liberty St., was badly damaged and contaminated in the World Trade Center disaster. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which owns the building, began to erect scaffolding and clean the tower in September. A floor-by-floor deconstruction will begin early next year.

In high wind on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 16, fragments from a 3-foot by 3-foot windowpane on the south side of the building came loose. Some of the glass fell through the perimeter protection area, but a few pieces fell first onto the sidewalk shed and then onto the street, which is open to traffic and pedestrians. Bovis Lend Lease, L.M.D.C.’s contractor, briefly closed the street to pedestrians.

Workers secured the remaining glass and installed cantilevers off of the sidewalk shed. They also plan to install similar cantilevers over the Greenwich St. shed, when it is installed next month. The contractors also checked all the glass in the building to be sure it is structurally sound and installed wire mesh over exposed windows. As scaffolding continues to go up along the building, each pane that becomes exposed will be re-inspected and covered with wire mesh.

“All of the additional precautions we’ve taken should lessen the chance of something like this happening in the future,” said John Gallagher, L.M.D.C. spokesperson.

Last week’s incident has heightened concern among nearby residents who have long worried that the damaged building in their midst is a risk to their safety.

“We feel vulnerable, we really do. In some ways, we feel like sitting ducks,” said Pat Moore, a resident of 125 Cedar St., which is directly across the street from the building. Moore is also chairperson of the Quality of Life Taskforce for Community Board 1. “I have to walk past the building now looking up, worrying that a guillotine of glass is coming down on me.”

The L.M.D.C.’s deconstruction plan was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency in September, after a lengthy review process. In the event of a serious emergency, the Office of Emergency Management will step in, delegating responsibilities to the responsible agency.

The corporation hopes the efforts their contractors took to secure the glass on the tower will put residents at ease. “I hope that will help to allay some of the concerns,” said Gallagher.

This is not the first time glass has fallen from 130 Liberty St. In Sept. 2004, glass debris fell onto Greenwich St., causing the development corporation to close the street and a pedestrian bridge for several days. There were no injuries during that incident, either.

“Is this going to continue to happen?” said Moore who has long advocated for an emergency response plan led by the L.M.D.C. for the community. “There are a lot of things happening in our corner of the world and we’re worried about a lot of things. Someone needs to be thinking: worse case scenario, what would we do about it?”



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