Terror devastates A/E/C firms

October 01, 2001 |

The attack on the World Trade Center left the nation numb and heartbroken, but for several A/E/C firms, the damage wrought on Sept. 11 was much more personal and devastating. Of the more than 400 employees from companies involved in building construction in or near the towers on that morning, 13 are missing, all from The Washington Group, which had offices on the 91st floor in Tower 2, the south tower.

The Washington Group, formerly Raytheon Infrastructure Inc., employed 190 people in those offices when two hijacked commercial airliners struck the center's towers. More than 6,000 people are listed as missing or killed following the towers' ensuing collapse.

"We haven't given up hope," says Rod Hunt, The Washington Group's director of corporate communications, "but [New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani] is saying that it would be a miracle to find anyone alive, and we tend to agree."

Hunt added that although many of the company's center employees are not yet ready to return to work, those who have returned are working in the company's other city offices.

The towers also housed the headquarters of the interior design firm of MancinicDuffy Architecture Design, an office of Turner Construction Co. and 15 employees of Parsons Brinckerhoff. Fifty employees of the engineering and construction firm of Edwards and Kelcey Inc. were forced from their offices in a now badly damaged building located 500 feet from Tower 2.

Of MancinicDuffy's 142 employees, 140 were in the firm's office on the 21st floor of Tower 2. "All our people managed to evacuate the building safely," says Francis Leone, managing principal of the firm's Parsippany, N.J., office. He marveled at the character of his firm's New York City staff, saying, "Those New Yorkers are really tough. They have a hell of a spirit."

Only days after the tragic event the firm said it was finalizing arrangements on a permanent office. Leone says the new headquarters will be located in a five-story walkup, noting, "I don't think we want to go to another high-rise."

The 12 employees of Turner Construction were located in an office in the third subbasement of Tower 1, the north tower. Turner had been performing renovation work in various parts of the center and had occupied various office spaces. Employees at work on surrounding buildings also made it to safety.

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