Why did debris fly off B3 tower? Contractor says site up to code, blames high winds (but now will exceed code)
As Regina Cahill, president of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District and a longtime neighborhood resident, put it last night, “It seems this is another case of specific site logistics, because of the area that it’s in and the high vortex winds we’ve all experienced…. have a clear effect on this building."
"We know that everyone recognizes this is an atypical project due to its location and size," the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance, a coalition of nearby stakeholders, said in a letter read at the meeting last night expressing hope and appreciation that recent coordination with ESD will lead to more community responsiveness.
(However, it did happen again, within the week, which suggests that the extra precautionary measures were not implemented by last Sunday. It was not explained last night exactly when the extra measures were decided on, or fully implemented. Presumably, full implementation before this past Sunday would have precluded the second incident.)
Eric Reid, Stephen LaSala, Miguel Padin
Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid began by explaining how "safety is a cornerstone of our company," and how they required safety plans from contractors, and follow a post-Superstorm Sandy storm preparedness bulletin from the DOB.
After the incidents, he said, "we've had multiple reviews from the [DOB's] BEST [Buildings Enforcement Safety Team] squad and other DOB inspectors in our building... They have no observation to make. If it was anything minor, we would have addressed it right away."
Also, Reid said, Tishman has increased design standards in two cases beyond the bode. The "vertial nets" at the perimeter of the building are required to be only five feet high, but they've now installed "full-height vertical nets," which are the height of a building's floor, presumably at least nine feet.
Tishman has also heightened the attachment of guardrails--the perimeter fencing that keeps workers from falling off--to the deck. "We've increased the number of stanchions," he said, and have "banded the guardrails back to the deck. So if there is a wind event, the guardrails now have more support, and they’re also lashed back to the plywood deck."
"The BEST squad has asked for a number of reports," he said. "We expect a re-inspection tomorrow, and the stop-work order to be lifted shortly thereafter."
If they were code-compliant, I asked, how then did this happen?
It was due to the incident, Reid said, and Cotton followed up. "If you’re code compliant, and an incident happened, then you’re technically not code compliant."
Tishman's Miguel Padin added, in response to my question, that the DOB had levied violations which should result in monetary fines, which will be administratively adjudicated.
"High winds," replied Reid.
"It was insufficiently secured," Ettlinger followed up.
(I'm not sure that the Williamsburgh bank wind vortex is sufficiently analogous to Tornado Alley.)
Padin then mentioned some of the additional safety measures, and added that the deck has openings to allow wind to escape, which also should heighten safety. "We don’t want incidents to happen, we don't want people to get hurt," he said. "It's in our best interest to make sure our site is safe."
Prospect Heights resident Robert Puca said those walking by the building often see wood planks sticking out from the perimeter of a floor.
"That's not a code violation," Reid responded. "That's banded and stacked, ready to be lifted by the crane to the next floor. It's braced in the back."
Puca said the wood is visible overnight.
"The code allows you to stack material," Padin responded, noting that one-third of the length is permitted to stick out from the building's perimeter.