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High-Rise Office Building Extensively Damaged By Collapsing World Trade Towers

case_leg_highrisewtcA 40-story commercial high-rise office building across the street from the World Trade Center in New York City was extensively damaged when it was hit by WTC Tower 2 as it collapsed on 9/11.  The building was gashed open, the low rise portion at the front of the building crushed, and most of the windows were blown out on the side that faced the WTC.  Even more severe than the physical damage was the environmental contamination that was driven into the building, consisting of a complex mixture of toxic chemical contaminants including asbestos, lead, mercury, PCBs, and dioxins.  The building was also affected by water damage and subsequent mold growth, and corrosion due to exposure to the weather.

Morse Associates principal, Roger Morse, was commissioned to determine the feasibility, methods, costs, and time necessary to remove the contamination and to return the building to its original condition. Extensive testing was performed to test remediation methods and clearance testing procedures in order to develop a remediation plan. Unfortunately, the cost of remediation exceeded the value of the building, making it more cost effective to demolish the building and rebuild it than to attempt to clean it.  Costs were driven by the extent to which contamination had been driven into all interstitial spaces in the building including the interior of curtain wall components and an underfloor raceway system that was an integral part of the floor construction.

Pathways by which contamination entered the building, the nature of the spaces and components requiring remediation, and remediation methods were presented during a week of testimony to the insurance appraisal panel that was attempting to adjust the loss.  Drawings, animations, videos and actual building components sealed in acrylic boxes were brought into the appraisal hearing to help explain to the panel the complex phenomena that occurred within the structural, HVAC, foundation, raceway, elevator, and curtain wall systems of the building.