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Bovis Faces Questions After Trump SoHo Death

January 16, 2008

By Jack Buehrer and Debra K. Rubin

New York City construction giant Bovis Lend Lease, already under scrutiny after two firefighters’ deaths last summer in a Ground Zero demolition project it was managing, now faces new questions following the January 14 death of a concrete subcontractor’s laborer in a 42-story fall from another lower Manhattan high-rise project that it manages.

Trump SoHo site
Photo © Nancy Soulliard / ENR
Concrete formwork collapsed at the Trump SoHo project in lower Manhattan, killing one construction worker.
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Work was halted at the Trump SoHo site, being developed by Donald Trump, following the fatal accident that also injured two others. The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a stop-work order and slapped Bovis with at least four violations. The project received 11 other citations previously, three to the Brooklyn-based subcontractor DiFama Concrete.

DOB says the accident occurred when concrete formwork failed on the building’s 42nd floor, causing it to collapse to the 40th floor. DiFama workers were tamping out air bubbles in wet concrete when the forms collapsed. Initial reports indicate the accident occurred after concrete beams fell from a crane and struck the building. One worker was caught by protective netting that surrounds the site. DOB says that the building is in no danger of further collapse. “We are in the process of conducting our own investigation with our concrete subcontractor, while working with authorities to determine the cause of this tragic accident,” according to a Bovis spokeswoman, who declines to give further detail.

Nearby, Bovis struggles to make progress on demolishing the remaining 26 floors of the formerly 40-story Deutsche Bank building, which was damaged during the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. The troubled project has been shut down since the firefighters died during a building fire last August; The John Galt Corporation, its cleanup-demolition subcontractor, was terminated.

On January 8, city officials announced the hiring of LVI Services, New York City, to replace Galt. It is unclear when demolition will restart, but sources say the project must meet a January 31 deadline to remove equipment and debris from its top two floors. Manhattan district attorney Robert Morganthau is continuing a criminal investigation at the site. Bovis declined comment.

This story first appeared on McGraw-Hill Construction’s ENR.com

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