Pumping at the Pentagon Puts Reconstruction Months Ahead of Schedule 2002

Cached/copied 09-13-08

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Pumping at the Pentagon Puts Reconstruction Months Ahead of Schedule 2002

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On 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 America’s strength.

History Ironically, original construction of the Pentagon began 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 Asbestos and lead building materials, inadequate wiring systems and outdated communications systems prompted the Pentagon Reservation Maintenance Revolving Fund, which would involve demolishing and replacing all but the basic structural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 were recycled.

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 2000.

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 2001.

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 Wedge 1.

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."

"Let’s Roll" 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."