Long Term Professional Service

by Thomas Beller


150 liberty st ny ny 10006

Neighborhood: World Trade Center

From 1965, when the World Trade Center was in its planning stages, until 1972, Edith Iglauer was a frequent visitor to the construction site of the World Trade Center, researching an article about the building’s foundation, known as “The Big Bathtub.” The article, ‘The Biggest Foundation’, appeared in the New Yorker on November 4th, 1972. In 1993 she wrote a short piece on the occasion of the bomb that was planted in the garage, the first terrorist attack on the building that now seems quite paltry.

She spoke to Eugene Fasullo, who was then the current chief engineer of the Port Authority, to ask if the basic structure had been compromised. Here is how she reports his response:

“The foundation walls, the tunnels, and PATH all withstood the blast with no structural damage,” he said. “The way the structure was built, it withstood this attack– almost a ton of explosive planted right adjacent to Tower A, possibly to try and take the whole structure down. The structural damage, which was immense, was limited to the floor slabs and the architectural walls. It doesn’t seem to have affected the slurry walls, which we are monitoring constantly.”

His voice rising he went on, “After the bomb exploded that Friday, I was stuck in an elevator full of smoke for almost three hours. We dug our way out through the elevator wall, using car keys and nail files, in the pitch dark, and landed in the bathroom on the fifty eighth floor and walked down. I reported in at four that afternoon, and by 3 A.M. we had the design scheme set, and by Sunday we were ready to erect steel. I’ve worked for the Port Authority as an engineer for thirty five years. I’ve been dealing with every issue from memory. There’s a lot to be said for long time professional service at a time like this.”

Fasullo has since retired. Iglauer lives in British Columbia and has received a barrage of calls about the building.

“It’s not my favorite building,” she said today of the structure she spent seven years researching and reporting on. “I don’t approve of buildings that tall. 110 stories seems to be ridiculous. They swayed! They swayed somewhere between three and six feet. And when you’re up that high you can feel it. I went up in it once, and never wanted to go up again.

“I think the empire state is about as high as one would want to go. To me it’s still the expression of New York’s skyscrapers. I just found the World Trade Center building very unattractive.

“But,” she added, “that has nothing to do with the fact that these people died and that they died this way. It’s terrible.

“The building is an extreme building. I guess that’s why they chose it.

She added, “It’s a terrible tragedy to have it end that way.

“But I do feel that the message of the president should have been, some way of working things out so that we live in peace. I don’t think war or revenge brings peace.”

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