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In Close Quarters at Ground Zero Site, A Spirit of Cooperation Reigns

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Photo by Nadine Post for ENR
A common purpose is a great motivator. The hundreds of people cooperating and coping at Ground Zero, many of whom are otherwise fierce competitors, have many reasons for putting up with the added hassles, restrictions and sacrifices.
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In the giant “ant colony” under the $18-billion World Trade Center rebuild in Lower Manhattan, there are seven major concurrent projects (eight, if the 500,000 sq ft of retail space dispersed throughout much of the development is counted). Each of the seven projects shares the WTC's four-level basement, which stretches over the 16-acre site. In the bowels of the WTC complex, building services for the WTC Trans-

portation Hub are “next door” in 3 WTC. The central chiller plant is under the National September 11th Memorial, the memorial is over the hub, and so on.

Thanks to shared delivery gates and personnel entry points, the projects appear to be interdependent even at a glance.

However, each project has its own schedule as well as its own design and construction teams, and each team has its own pressures and agendas (see p. 34).

“It's like seven people in a sandbox all building their own sand castles and sharing shovels,” says Lynda Tollner, a project director for the WTC landowner, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

The need for cross-team coordination and communication, so that all the pieces of the giant, high-profile three-dimensional puzzle come together, is unprecedented. The cooperation among the stakeholders, if at times reluctant, is historic. Instead of chaos, “coopitition” or “cope-itition” is the rule.

“There's mutual respect,” says Michael J. Mennella, an executive vice president of Tishman Construction Corp., a unit of AECOM Technology. “Everybody is helping everybody,” just as they did during the cleanup after the 9/11 attacks.

A common purpose is a great motivator. The hundreds of people cooperating and coping at “Ground Zero,” many of whom are otherwise fierce competitors, have many reasons for putting up with the added hassles, restrictions and sacrifices. For those who personally witnessed the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, or lost family and friends or were involved in the long, hard days of recovery and cleanup, working at Ground Zero is part of their personal recovery.

Even those who did not lose anyone or bear direct witness on 9/11 are extremely committed to the work's smooth, timely completion. For everyone, it is a chance to give back and be a part of history. We thank them all.

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