Update on NYC crane collapse

Friday 30 May 2008

Two confirmed dead and one serious injury

A construction crane has collapsed at the site of the Azure Condominium, a 34-storey building located on the Upper East Side at 91st Street and 1st Avenue killing one and seriously injuring two other construction workers. The crane being used to construct the Azure snapped off and hit a 23 storey residential building across the street at 354 East 91st Street ripping out that building’s balconies before crashing to the ground. As a precaution 160 apartments from several nearby buildings have been evacuated while an investigation of the accident takes place. It is the City’s second deadly crane accident in three months and one of many mishaps the led up to the recent shake up of the City’s building department and the resignation of its top officer.

Several members of the American architecture community have spoken out following the first crane disaster to condemn Mayor Bloomberg's decision to allow a non-certified architect or engineer to head up the Building's Department. Robert LiMandri, the current stand in following Patricia Lancaster's resignation, has no such certification. Alan Weinstein, President of the AIA Queens sent out a statement to fellow architects and the press stating:

"Many changes have been set in motion over the past 2 months by the Bloomberg administration to treat the agency like a business, and to quote Deputy Mayor Skyler, by eliminating the license requirement 'we want to enlarge the selection pool for commissioner'. We have expressed the dangers of this to the Mayors office, The City Council, The Media and the public. Now, unfortunately our warnings have produced proof of the horrific result and danger to public safety that we have expressed so vehemently."

The stricken building, The Azure, located at 333 91st Street, is being developed jointly by the DeMatteis Organizations and the Mattone Group. Mayor Bloomberg said at a press conference that the building had been inspected this past weekend and passed with no issues. But the city’s web site http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/ html/bis/bis.shtml notes dozens of construction violations at this site. While most of these have been dismissed, there are several concerning violations levied against the crane. The crane which was erected on April 17th did not pass a load test on April 22nd precipitating a stop work order to be issued. Subsequent to that complaint, a partial stop work order was issued at the building for unsafe operations. That stop work notice was lifted just the day before the crash.

The crane was not one of those that was inspected after the city’s deadly crane collapse in March as this crane was erected at a later date.

WAN will keep its readers posted as this story unfolds.

Sharon McHugh in New York

Key Facts:

United States
Urban design

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