Case Study: Time Warner World Headquarters

A Unique Challenge—The Largest Single Building Hoisting Project in the History of Manhattan

The Time Warner World Headquarters at Columbus Circle in NYC gave UBS the unique challenge of performing the largest single building hoisting project in the history of Manhattan, at over $12 million with 12 operational hoists.

The 800' tall "twin tower" feature, constructed in the heart of busy Manhattan's Columbus Circle, was further complicated by the over 100 linear foot setbacks the design by Skidmore, Owens & Merrill, Architects required. While beautiful architecturally and required by zoning, building setbacks are always a challenge in the mobilization and construction of high rise projects.

The building superstructure was built at a rate of one floor every two days. This two-day cycle style of construction is unique to New York City and requires a hoisting system that not only can handle the high volume of workers and materials needed, but also must be able to "keep up" with the fast pace of work being put into place. By being able to stay within close proximity to the floors as they were being constructed, it was reported that a worker's life was saved when he fell from his area of work, but miraculously landed on a UBS runway that was just one level below where he was working. Good practice equals lucky man.

When the AOL-Time Warner Construction was finished, dismantling of the Hoisting System scheduling advantages became critical as well: Contractually, the two (2) hoisting complexes required dismantling to be completed in 24 weeks, 12 weeks per side. UBS was able to expedite the dismantle for the overall advantage to the project to a previously unimaginable total of 5 weeks (South 3 weeks, North 2 weeks), safely and without incident.

Bringing Safety Standards to a Higher Level

Using the technologies developed and tested on the high rise buildings at London's Canary Wharf Project, UBS incorporated a new structure to bring safety during installations and removals of the hoisting systems to unprecedented levels. By allowing approximately 90% of the installation of the hoisting system to be performed at ground level, the amount of time workers were building "in the tower" at great heights with associated dangers was greatly reduced. By assembling the 16'-0" square modules (pods) at the ground, the advantages were obvious:

  • The critical "time in the tower at height" risk was minimized.
  • All work was performed in a controlled environment that was safed off.
  • Safety systems were available and in close proximity to work being installed.

The new UBS 10" x 10" Aluminum Extruded Leg provides ten times the strength at only 30% more weight of older systems. Coupled with specially designed 8' wide trussed bridge deck runbacks, UBS' system allowed the 100' spans to be mastered using an unprecedented 2 spans. The added bonus of the Aluminum System is the non-corrosive properties of the alloy providing an extra level of protection from rust getting on the finished building façade, which is why other projects like the Restoration of The Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument and Grand Central Terminal all relied on UBS and their aluminum.