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Hurricane Sandy-Ravaged NYC Tower Crane Could Fall

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Photo by Cathleen McGuigan for Architectural Record
The crane atop One57, the rising $1.5 billion residential tower opposite Carnegie Hall, has fallen over in the winds of Hurricane Sandy.
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The superstructure of a 1,000-ft-tall tower crane working in Midtown Manhattan left dangling from Hurricane Sandy is at risk of falling down into the streets, says one crane expert watching the event unfold from afar.

Terry McGettigan, a tower crane expert in Seattle with 36 years of operating, maintenance and inspection experience, told ENR in a phone interview that the crane, believed to be a Favelle Favco Model 440 luffing jib unit, is in a precarious situation that should be handled with extreme care.

"That thing is not hanging on by much," said McGettigan on Oct. 29, responding to news photographs and live television coverage not long after the 1,000-ft-high crane's jib was blown backwards over its counterweight. "There is a possibility that the jib could come down."

As winds began blowing in on Oct. 29, Sandy took out the crane working at New York City's tallest residential tower, One57, a 90-story, $1.5-billion building scheduled for completion next year.

The New York City Fire Dept. said it was on the scene with other city officials and in the process of securing the area around the tower. FDNY received a call about the incident at 2:32 P.M. on Oct. 29 and was on the scene with other emergency personnel.

Owned by Extell Development Co., the Manhattan structure is scheduled for completion next year. The tower is an 882,141-sq-ft mixed-use structure that includes 95 luxury condominium residences, a hotel and parking spaces. Extell and the Dept. of Buildings were not available for comment. Lend Lease, the building's construction manager, did not respond to ENR's phone calls.

Emergency responders would want to find out if the crane was weather-vaned before it was last shut down, McGettigan said. Weather-vaning a crane involves releasing the swing brake so the crane can move freely in the wind. It is a standard procedure that crane operators typically must follow when a shift is completed, he added.

Manufacturers also require operators to "dress" the crane for weather-vaning, such as positioning the jib at a specified angle or retracting the trolley and hoist lines.

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