It was a big day for me, the most significant presentation I’d ever made. I was still young, in my early forties. Most of the board agreed with my suggestion of bidding out the steel to the smaller fabricators. The Bethlehem-promoter did not.
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Tishman to deliver on budget? My answer should have been obvious to him, but I was glad to supply it: that we had no financial stake in the decision being made, and that we would not make one cent more or less, no matter what they chose to do, but going with the specialty contractors would save the project $40 million for the two towers. The PA board decided to do the bidding our way. Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel were shut out of the bidding, and eleven separate contracts were let for each unique structural portion of the steel required. The eventual cost of the fabricating and erecting the steel ended up at $96 million for each tower. Because there was so much steel to be used, and not enough room for it all on the site, the steel was shipped by rail to a point in New Jersey. There, each separate piece was tagged with a tracking number and only the correctly numbered pieces were delivered to the site by train or truck in a “just-in-time” delivery scheme.
There was never a second round of bidding for the handling of the construction phase of the WTC. Our pre-construction assignment just segued into the management of the overall construction, and we just kept on working, sending bills every month and getting them paid by the Port Authority. Tishman Construction was listed as “General Contractor” but we acted as Construction Managers and were paid a multiplier of the cost of all the supervisory personnel that we supplied to the project.
Austin Tobin was a big-picture guy, not a hands-on manager. He preferred to have his subordinates do the detail work. For instance, a subordinate who was actually a PA commissioner himself was handling the bids for the elevators.
Yamasaki and Roth had adopted the sky lobby plan first used in the Hancock Center, although in the WTC Towers there was no natural division of lower and upper stories into commercial and residential as there had been in the Hancock. Large “shuttle” elevators would carry people to an intermediate floor, while one set of smaller elevators would service the floors above, and another would service those from the ground to that intermediate floor. The shuttles were to be the most capacious elevators ever used, able to accommodate fifty people (10, 000 pounds). There was a limit to how fast such elevators could travel, because at an upward speed above 1,800 feet per minute your ears begin to pop and you feel g-forces in the way that astronauts do when they are rocketing toward outer space.
The designs called for “the largest vertical transportation system in history, ” as one report put it, including not only 200 elevators but an extended system of forty-nine escalators to take people between adjoining floors.