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Pumping at the
Pentagon Puts Reconstruction Months Ahead of Schedule 2002
September 10, 2001, employees of the United States Department of
Defense were moving back into their newly renovated office spaces
inside of Wedge 1 of the Pentagon. Phase one of project PENREN
(Pentagon Renovation), a multi-year, $258 million slab-to-slab
renovation was just weeks away from completion. On September 11, 2001,
Wedge 1 became a search and rescue site for the victims of the
terrorist attacks. One month later, it became the site of the Phoenix
Project, an effort dedicated to the reconstruction of a symbol of
History Ironically, original construction of the Pentagon
on September 11, 1941. Crews worked around the clock and completed
construction in only 16 months. Due to shortages of materials required
for war production, engineering and management teams used reinforced
concrete in lieu of formed steel for the structural design. Instead of
elevators, concrete ramps provided floor-to-floor access, and natural
materials were used for interior piping, ducts and doors. Innovative
engineering saved 43,000 tons of steel for the war effort.
Before project PENREN was enacted under the Defense Authorization Act
of Fiscal Year 1991, none of the major building systems had been
replaced or substantially upgraded since the building’s original
construction. Asbestos and lead building materials, inadequate wiring
systems and outdated communications systems prompted the Pentagon
Reservation Maintenance Revolving Fund, which would involve demolishing
and replacing all but the basic structural system, the stairwells and
their enclosing walls.
PENREN Project PENREN began in January of 1998, with a "wall-bashing"
ceremony in February to signify the beginning of Phase One of a 12-year
project. 25,000 Wedge 1 tenants were relocated to a 910,000 square foot
"swing space" for the construction period. Barrier walls were
constructed to eliminate sound disturbance and airborne debris from
adjacent Wedges 2 and 5.
After all electrical, plumbing, and communication systems were removed,
demolition and abatement crews rid the 1,000,000 square foot space of
83 million pounds of lead, asbestos and debris. 70% of those materials
Renovation of Wedge 1’s basic structural system began in early 1999.
Facchina Construction Company, Inc. project manager Ken Wyman described
the initial phase of their work as "selective demolition," as most of
the 1941 structure had maintained its structural integrity. Facchina
crews worked six to seven days a week pouring concrete and renovating
the structure with the basic crane-and-bucket method. An S 47 SX boom
pump was also used for some of the higher pours. Wyman said that
although the crane-and-bucket method was not the most efficient, it was
the only way to distribute the concrete throughout the building. Due to
the existing structural elements, Facchina was faced with height
restrictions and small, unaccommodating openings. Despite the tedious
placing method, Facchina’s work on Wedge 1 was completed at the end of
With the structural maintenance complete, crews began construction on
the office spaces according to the requirements of the intended
tenants. New energy management, telecommunications and security systems
were installed, as well as 1,282 energy efficient window units and 386
blast-resistant window units. The final step involved rating the
completed work against the original plan and intent. It was during this
process that military and civil employees began to move back into their
newly renovated offices. The moving process continued into September of
PENREN crews also began construction on several adjoining facilities,
including a new and improved Physical Fitness and Readiness Facility,
the Metro Entrance Facility, and the Remote Delivery Facility.
Brundage-Bone & Blanchet, L.L.C., a pumping contractor out of
Maryland, pumped the concrete for the new Remote Delivery Facility. The
250,000 square foot structure adjoins the Pentagon and acts as a
shipping and receiving area for the thousands of items that circulate
through the Pentagon every day. Before September 11th, Brundage-Bone
& Blanchet also pumped concrete for surrounding utility tunnels.
September 11th, 2001 Less than an hour after the World
Trade Centers in New York City were attacked, American Airlines flight
77 took off from Dulles International Airport and crashed into the
headquarters of the United States Department of Defense. The Boeing 757
slammed directly into Wedge 1 of the Pentagon, its nose coming to rest
just inside Wedge 2 between corridors 4 and 5. Recognizing that a
search and rescue mission would soon be at hand, PENREN crews on the
site immediately offered blueprints and layouts of the interior of
Facchina crews had completed their work for PENREN nine months earlier,
and were working on a roadway system interchange for the state of
Maryland. On the evening of September 11th, project manager Ken Wyman
received a call from company owner Paul Facchina. He ordered Wyman and
members of his crew to the site of the attack. "There was no question
of whether or not we were going to drop everything and get there," said
Wyman about abandoning a job already in progress. "The State of
Maryland was very understanding. We were allowed an automatic two-week
time extension to set up new management for the job. They understood
that we needed to be in Washington."
When he arrived on the site Wyman was instructed to do whatever needed
to be done. "We were told to provide the search and rescue teams
whatever they needed to reach the victims."
Facchina provided the effort with their own of fleet equipment, but
finding some necessary items proved to be a challenge. " We grappled
for some materials. We had to find structural steel beams at two
o-clock in the morning," said Wyman. "But we found ways to get access.
We’d find things in our yard, on other job sites. Everyone was ready
and willing to give us whatever we needed." Two weeks into the search
and rescue effort, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and FEMA
personnel took over.
According to members of the construction crew and government officials,
if the plane had entered an area other than Wedge 1 the damage could
have been even more devastating. Because PENREN engineering and
management teams implemented several safety and security measures
during the renovation process, structural damage to the building was
minimal. The barrier wall ultimately minimized damage to other portions
of the Pentagon. Steel columns were bolted in place along all five
floors of Wedge 1 to strengthen the structural integrity. Kevlar cloth
built into the structure minimized the shrapnel effect much like that
of a bulletproof vest. A new sprinkler system aided in lessening fire
and smoke damage. The 386 blast- resistant windows installed into Wedge
1 remained intact during the crash.
Wyman commented that no amount of structural reinforcement
could withstand a crash of this magnitude. "The third, fourth and fifth
floors remained standing for thirty to forty minutes after the crash
before they collapsed. Most of the destruction was caused by the heat
of the fires."
The crash did not damage Wedge 1 exclusively, however. Half of the
damage was in Wedge 1, the other half in Wedge 2. The scope of work was
the rebuilding of the core and shell of Wedge 1 and the shell of Wedge
2, a foot print of 400 feet long by 200 feet deep.
Wyman commented that despite the daunting task each and
every person involved in the reconstruction effort was completely
dedicated. "PENREN program manager Lee Evey was at the site every day,
all the time. In the beginning, Donald Rumsfeld would show up four out
of five mornings. He would speak personally with project managers on
the site. He wanted to know everything about the project, and made sure
we had everything we needed."
The reconstruction job was dubbed the "Phoenix Project,"
symbolizing America’s effort to recover from serious tragedy and loss.
Crews and government officials also adopted the motto "Let’s roll," as
a tribute to Todd Beamer, one hero of Flight 93 that crashed in
Pennsylvania. And crews have certainly rolled through this project.
Facchina, also based in Maryland, signed on to aid in the demolition
and structural concrete framing, and Brundage-Bone & Blanchet were
contracted to pump all of the concrete for the damaged area. Demolition
began on October 18, 2001. With 395 Facchina crew members and on the
job site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the operation cleared
15,000 cubic yards of debris from the site in four short weeks.
The reconstruction phase began immediately on November 15th. Facchina
crews and operators from Brundage-Bone & Blanchet completed the
second floor deck pour in exactly one month. Using the S 47 SX boom
pump for the majority of the second floor, the third through fifth
floors of the E-ring, and the blast wall were completed by March 11,
the six month anniversary of the attack. Brundage-Bone also used the S
47 SX boom pump to construct the outer architectural walls. The D and
C-rings were reconstructed using a 32-XL Schwing detachable placing
boom. Two pedestals were mounted in the space, while a slick line
accessorized with a 90-degree diversion valve supplied the booms with
concrete from the truck pump. The quick pin attach system allowed crews
to detach and attach the booms for remote placements in 30 to 40
minutes, minimizing crane time. Wyman said that the placing booms
combined with the pump offered better production than their experience
with the crane-and-bucket method.
With the placing boom system, Brundage-Bone & Blanchet branch
manager Matt McDonald estimated that 1,000 to 1,200 yards of concrete
were pumped in a 6-day workweek, the most productive day resulting in a
500-yard pour. On April 5th, Phoenix Project crews celebrated the
completion of the roof with Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld and
Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz at a "Topping Out" ceremony. Wyman and
McDonald estimated that between 16,000 and 19,000 yards of concrete
have been pumped since November 15th.
The fast pace of Project Phoenix is obvious when compared with the
project’s original timeline. In the beginning, contractors were given
an August deadline. The Brundage-Bone & Blanchet crew pumped and
poured their last yard the first week of April. E-ring tenants were
promised a new office on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. At
the current rate of production, Pentagon personnel will be set to move
in months before September 11th, 2002.
"I’m so proud and grateful to be a part of this effort," said Wyman. "I
enjoyed being a part of the team that made this happen, but I would
never, ever want to go through all of this again."