Building Tall My Life and the Invention of Construction Management
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Building Tall My Life and the Invention of Construction Management

Building Tall My Life and the Invention of Construction Management by John L. Tishman | PDF Free Download.

Building Tall Contents

  • Growing Up in the Tishman Company
  • Innovations
  • Building Tall
  • Transitions
  • The Disney Experience
  • Inventing Construction Management
  • Being a Leader
  • Charitable and Civic Work

Preface to Building Tall My Life and the Invention of Construction Management

My office at the top of 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan—the same office I’d occupied since the building opened, more than 44 years earlier faced north, so on the morning of September 11, 2001, when a colleague came in to tell me that a plane had just hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center near the southern tip of Manhattan, I left my office and went to another that faces south, where a few colleagues had gathered.

From there, we were able to see the North Tower, far downtown. As with most people, I thought there had been an accident, perhaps involving a small plane; since we had served as the Construction Manager for the building of the “twin towers,” I knew that they had been designed to withstand an airplane crash.

One of the highlights of my career was having built the North and South Towers, then the tallest buildings in the world. And now something terrible was happening to them.

Peering through the smoke, we were horrified when a second plane crashed into the South Tower. Instantly, flames and smoke billowed from that tower as well, obscuring our view.

Now we understood: this was no accident. Unable any longer to view the towers directly, we turned to the television for information.

As with all Americans, we were aghast when the towers fell. Knowing how well the towers had been constructed, we had not expected them to collapse, nor that Number 7 World Trade Center, a two million-square-foot privately owned building for which we had also served as Construction Managers, would also collapse.

After the shock of their fall, we could only be grateful that so many people in the buildings who had been below the points of impact of the planes had been able to get out of the buildings alive.

Over the next few days, as the details of the attacks emerged, I guess I was so shocked that I was unable to wrap my mind around the enormity of the disaster.

While I felt empathy for those who had died, and for their families, and anger and sadness at what had happened, I was unnervingly calm.

For several days after September 11, I went through the motions of an ordinary workday until one afternoon I found myself staring blankly at the computer screen and realized that I had been frozen in that position for hours, just gazing at the screen as though in a trance. It was only then that I understood that I had been in shock since the event.

My thoughts as I tried to climb out of that trance centered on my friend and client Larry Silverstein, the developer who had recently taken over as the landlord of the entire World Trade Center complex, and who had also developed and owned the two-million-square-foot Number 7 building.

Reporters called us because of our supervisory role in the construction of the towers, but the reporters had very little information about what happened and even less understanding of construction, so they did not ask very penetrating questions about the buildings and how they had been erected.

Away from the reporters’ inquiries, some of us old hands at Tishman Construction tried to figure out for ourselves what had happened to the towers.

We knew that the basic design of the towers had been sound—that soundness, for instance, was what had permitted many thousands of people to successfully get out of the towers before they collapsed but we also realized that while the buildings had been designed to withstand the impact of a small plane, no one had foreseen that they might in the future be the targets of much larger planes deliberately full of fuel. Nonetheless, it was fairly obvious what forces had been at work in the fall.

The jet fuel, ignited by the impacts with the towers, had burned at an enormously high temperature, causing the steel in the buildings to soften and lose strength. Then the concrete floors, without the support that the steel had provided, simply gave way.

Each floor fell down on the next, and the cumulating floors just collapsed down and down and down until the entire building caved in under its own weight in a maelstrom of dust, glass, steel, interior partitions, furniture, and everything else that had been inside.

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