Rising Steel Prices Plague Construction
Industry takes hit for materials demand. Also, Jean Nouvel wins the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Materials Demand Painful for Industry
Due to the increasing demand for steel, many vendors have been forced to raise the prices of iron, altogether creating a spike in the cost of construction.
The demand has led many companies, such as North Carolina-based equipment manufacturer Volvo Construction Equipment, to raise their prices. Like many others in the industry, Volvo has increased the cost base of heavy equipment and plans to raise the price of its machines and components by 5% globally.
Scott Hall, an executive vice president for Volvo, said in April that restricted supply and demand for steel has led to the cost of iron ore rising by over 70% on the worldwide markets.
“Manufacturers of heavy construction equipment are being particularly hard hit by the current record prices of commodities, such as steel, oil, iron ore and rubber,” he said. “With no sign of commodity prices cooling in the foreseeable future it has become unavoidable that these costs be offset in the form of a price increase.”
Aldo’s Iron Works in Brooklyn, New York is taking hits from the increase and also does not see the situation as temporary. “We are raising our prices quarterly,” said employee Enzo Frustaci. “We have no choice, so we have to pass it onto the customer, but we also eat a little [of the cost].”
Other local companies are experiencing a similar strain. Steel distributor Atlantic Steel & Processing, LLC in Waterbury, Connecticut is “definitely feeling the effects of the increase,” said a spokesperson for the company. “Unfortunately, it’s affecting everybody.”
Times Square Building Construction Ahead of Schedule
|Steel erection began at 11 Times Square, the 1.1 million-sq-ft commercial and retail tower in Manhattan, and will use approximately 7,000 tons of steel within the 40-story building during the construction period.
|Photo courtesy of SPJ Properties.
Steel is rising at 11 Times Square, the 1.1 million-sq-ft commercial and retail tower on the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
The project, which broke ground in June 2007, will use approximately 7,000 tons of structural steel. The 40-story building is expected to top out by the end of 2008.
11 Times Square will employ a concrete core which will allow for fewer columns on the office floors, making the space versatile for both office-intensive and open layouts. The building will have seven column-free corner offices on every floor.
Project architects FXFOWLE decided to use a concrete core because “It’s a tremendous safety benefit,” said Dan Kaplan, senior principal at FXFOLWE. “The concrete core gives 11 Times Square a robust enclosure for the building’s various critical elements, including stairways, elevators and critical utility risers. Second, there are acoustic benefits to using concrete. The mechanical room on each floor will be fully enclosed within the concrete walls, shielding offices from vibrations and noise.”
The building in Times Square is also seeking LEED Gold Certification. Sustainable features will include a building management system to control and monitor mechanical systems and increased air filtration from higher elevations that will provide 30% more outdoor air than required by American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers standards. Additionally, exterior sunshades or silk screened fritted glass will be utilized to reduce interior glare and improve thermal comfort. A storm water detention and filtration system will reduce site runoff and collected water will recharge the cooling tower. Low consumption plumbing fixtures will be used to reduce the building’s water usage by over 30%.
“Less than a handful of new buildings will come close to meeting the environmental standards that will be the foundation of 11 Times Square,” said Kaplan.
Developer SPJ Properties has not yet released information on possible tenants for the 53,000 sq ft of retail and 14,000 sq ft of commercial space.
The project is currently two months ahead of schedule and is expected to be turned over by late 2009.
Nouvel Wins Pritzker Prize
Jean Nouvel is the 2008 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, the profession’s highest honor, announced award sponsors, The Hyatt Foundation.
|Jean Nouvel, 2008 recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is currently designing a 75-story, glass and steel condo tower in midtown Manhattan. Rising more than 1,000 feet, it could become the tallest residential building in New York.
|Image courtesy Ateliers Jean Nouvel.
Nouvel is the second French citizen to receive the Pritzker after Christian de Portzamparc in 1994.
Many of Nouvel’s more than 200 works are concentrated in France but increasingly they are located around the world. His current work includes a branch of the Louvre Museum at the Saadiyat Cultural District in Abu Dhabi – expected to open in 2012 – as well as several designs currently under construction in New York City.
In New York’s Chelsea district, Nouvel has designed 100 11th Avenue, a 72-unit luxury condominium tower located adjacent to a women’s jail and a state highway, and across the street from Frank Gehry’s iconic InterActiveCorp headquarters. Looking beyond this freighted urban context, Nouvel was instead struck by the site’s views of the Hudson River and the light it receives at sunset.
“It’s clearly a game with the nature of light and how to catch sparkles of light, a little bit like an eye of an insect,” he said recently of the south- and west-facing facades, composed of more than 1,700 differently-shaped glass panes attached to a steel frame at varied angles. “It’s a very special building for this exactly spot.”
Nouvel also designed the 40 Mercer Street Residences in Soho, and Is currently working on a new 75-story residential and hotel building next to the Museum of Modern Art.
The Pritzker, first awarded in 1979, is given to a living architect and carries with it a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion. This year’s honor was bestowed during a ceremony on June 2 at the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C.
DOB Completes Crane Inspection
Eight of the 29 cranes inspected this spring by the New York City Department of Buildings were ordered to be shut down after safety and paperwork violations were discovered.
The inspection spanned all five boroughs and investigated 29 tower cranes. Twenty-one of the cranes were in accordance with engineered plans approved by the Buildings Department and were functioning safely at the time of inspection. Eight tower cranes were immediately issued stop work orders and shut down. Two had administrative violations, lacking the proper paperwork available on site at the time of inspection, and six had safety-related violations, including broken decelerators, missing pins and conditions contrary to the engineered plans.
The inspections were ordered by former Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster, who then resigned in late April during the fallout of a rash of construction-related fatalities. Lancaster’s deputy commissioner Robert LiMandri, is filling Lancaster’s seat the interim.
DOB launched the inspection initiative following the March 15, 2008 crane collapse at 303 East 51st Street in Manhattan. Workers lost control of the crane during a 205-ft-tall jump. The crash killed seven people and 24 were severely injured.
Brookfield to Alleviate Traffic Issue
A $90 million construction project on the Route 7 is progressing in Brookfield and New Millford, Connecticut.
General Contractor O&G Industries began construction for the Connecticut Department of Transportation in April 2007. The project is expected to help alleviate heavy traffic problems by reconstructing Route 7 to looparound Brookfield instead of through the town. As a separate project, CTDOT is in the process of widening Route 7, and upon completion, four lanes of traffic will run from Interstate 84 to the Housatonic Bridge in New Millford.
Although the projects are running concurrently, CTDOT’s widening project is abutting the traffic reconstruction project.
“They don’t really have an effect on each other,” said John Gemetro, vice president of O&G Industries. The widening project will be completed this summer.
Work on the north and south ends of the project area has started and the construction team will work towards the center area at different times.
Three new bridges are also being constructed. Two will be built over wetlands and the third over North Mountain Road.
“We consider this a large earth and rock moving project,” said Gemetro. “There aren’t many [similar projects] being done anymore in Connecticut because most of construction is being done on existing roadways and not on virgin ground.”
Each bridge is currently under construction in various stages. O&G Industries anticipates completing the three bridge structures by the end of 2008.
O&G considers the environmental portion of the project to be the largest. “A lot of aspects of the project were specifically designed to deal with the wetlands,” explained Gemetro. The team is constructing habitats throughout the two main wetland areas and various others in the project.
A retaining wall is also being constructed near North Mountain Road, which will incorporate tunnels to allow for indigenous turtles to migrate across the highway.. Following a migration study, CTDOT modified construction plans and the turtles’ migration schedule will dictate when the restricted area the center portion of the project can handle construction work. “Four are scheduled to be constructed, so that the turtles can get from one side of the highway to the other,” said Gemetro.
The most challenging aspect of the project thus far, according to Gemetro, has been sequencing the project. “Because of the environmental aspects of the job, there has been a number of design issues that came up, foundation had to be redesigned since we began excavation and it’s almost like putting a puzzle together,” he said.
The project is slated for completion in November 2009.
Staten Island Hospital Tops Out
|General contractor Skanska USA put the last beam in place on the new 39,000 sq ft trauma and emergency room building at Staten Island University Hospital.
|Photo courtesy of David Formichella.
The new 39,000-sq-ft trauma and emergency room building of the Staten Island University Hospital has topped out.
The new $40 million facility in the Ocean Breeze section of Staten Island is expected to double the hospital’s current emergency room capacity.
“We have 100,000 emergency room visits each year at our North and South Site hospital facilities. The busiest is our North Site ER, built in 1979 to accommodate 25,000 annual patient visits,” said Anthony Ferreri, president and CEO of Staten Island University Hospital. “With this new structure, we can look forward to decreased wait times and length of stay, improved patient confidentiality and privacy, and introduction of new technology to improve delivery of care.”
In addition to the emergency and trauma center project on the first floor, New York-based architects Perkins Eastman designed the second floor to house an educational center, which will be used for residency programs for doctors, medical education for the community and a medical library. An additional $10 million will be spent on the interior and furnishings in the educational center.
Construction managers, Skanska USA broke ground in late 2007. Susan Loheide, senior project manager at Skanska, said that to avoid disruption, the existing, adjacent second-floor operating suite and the ground floor emergency room and trauma center required careful construction when demolishing existing walls to tie in to the new structure.
“It’s not easy to do this with operating and emergency rooms in high demand,” said Loheide. “And certainly you don’t want to interfere with the flow of medical gases, steam lines and chilled water.”
Following the new center’s completion and occupancy in the fall of 2009, Skanska will build an elevator from the new emergency room’s trauma area to the existing operating room suite, as well as renovate the existing emergency department for office administration use. A new ambulance entry bay, separate emergency room parking and landscaping will also be part of the post-project completion phase, which will end in October 2009.
The hospital has expanded four times before the new trauma and emergency room project. Recent projects include the Medical Arts Pavilion, the Breast Imaging and Surgery Centers, the Nalitt Institute for Cancer and Blood Related Diseases and the Tower Building.
Major NY Theater To Get Facelift
The Atlantic Theater Company has selected Coburn Architecture of Brooklyn, New York to design the renovation for its Linda Gross Theater on West 20th Street in Manhattan.
“Coburn Architecture understands the aesthetic that is so vital to Atlantic Theater Company’s audience and artists,” said Atlantic Managing Director Andrew Hamingson. “This is a delicate project in a building that is over 100 years old.”
Renovating the 6,300-sq-ft space will include restoring a 199-seat theater and constructing a 5,100-sq-ft basement that will be used as an enlarged lobby with new restroom facilities, a prop-building workshop, a costume shop and backstage support offices. Atlantic Theater Company intends for the renovation to update the building without destroying the original architectural details. “The renovation and expansion will be contained within the envelope of the West 20th Street theater, digging down 11 ft,” said Hamingson.
Since its erection in 1985, the theater has featured off-Broadway plays and has only undergone minor previous renovations such as upgrading the restrooms and installing steel beams to support the lighting grades.
“Since it is a 125 year old building, it is time to do it,” said Hamingson. “We have big problems with infrastructure; there is no heat or air conditioning in the lobby and our sets are loaded through a window, which actually costs us more money because we have to do it in pieces.”
A 12-ft by 8-ft door will replace the window and the lobby will be expanded to bring concession and restrooms into one area, altogether allowing for easier production and creating ease for guests.
A general contractor has yet to be selected, but the project will go out to bid this summer, because of the funding the theater receives from the city, said Hamingson.
The project is expected to be completed in December 2009, just in time to celebrate Atlantic Theater Company’s 25th Anniversary.
Summer Roadwork Begins in New Jersey
New Jersey Department of Transportation has begun work to resurface Route 202 in Bedminster, Branchburg, Bridgewater and Raritan Borough in Somerset County and Raritan Township and Readington in Hunterdon County.
In March 2008, general contractor Intercounty Paving Assoc, LLC began resurfacing work at the south end of the project in Raritan and is now progressing north to Bedminster, according to NJDOT. The project also includes construction of new curbs and sidewalks along Route 202.
“NJDOT is committed to providing our residents with safer highways and extending the useful life of our infrastructure,” said NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri.
NJDOT anticipates completing the $85 million project in September 2008.
Meanwhile, the Connecticut Department of Transportation is also performing a full-depth reconstruction on Route 202, at Silvermine Road and Elbow Hill Road in Brookfield.
Waters Construction Company, Inc. of Bridgeport began construction in March 2008 and will complete the project in July 2009.
NJDOT also recently announced a project to resurface Route 55 southbound in Vineland and Millville, Cumberland County.
“Resurfacing Route 55 will improve the quality of the roadway and increase safety for Cumberland County residents and through-traffic,” said NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri.
Construction began in April 2008 to repair “severely deteriorated and exhibits rutting, cracking and heavy potholes,” said NJDOT. The $5.6 million contract awarded to South State Inc. of Bridgeton also includes resurfacing on Route 322 in Logan Township, Gloucester County as well.
Since only the southbound lane of Route 55 has been selected for resurfacing, NJDOT predicts minimal impact to traffic flow.
The project is scheduled for completion in October 2008.
Meanwhile, NJDOT recently began a project to rehabilitate Route 21 in Newark, Belleville, and Nutley in Essex County and Clifton and Passaic in Passaic County.
The construction involves resurfacing 5.57 miles on Route 21, both northbound and southbound lanes. Crisdel Group, Inc. of South Plainfield has been selected as the general contractor.
“This $9 million project will improve the condition of Route 21 throughout a highly congested, nine mile segment of Route 21 in Essex and Passaic counties,” said NJDOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri.
The $9 million project began in April 2008 and is scheduled for completion in October 2008.