Engineer Defends Fallen Towers

Engineer Defends Fallen Towers

...Mr. Robertson began his review by flicking through slides of prefabricated exterior panels being hoisted into place in the early 1970s. Gripping the lectern, he faltered. "Oh boy," he said, bowing his head. He gathered himself. "Next slide."

He used a laser pointer to highlight grim photos of Ground Zero: exterior panels torn into jagged sections, twisted steel columns, towering piles of rubble. The commentary continued, like a medical examiner detailing an autopsy. "Here you see classical tension failure. Next slide. You can see the columns displaced. Welds are sheared off. Classical failures. Next slide."

Then came the question-and-answer period. "Is there anything you wish you had done differently in the design of the building?" one engineer called out abruptly. The room fell silent. Mr. Robertson paused and scratched his head. "I guess I wish I had made it stand up" longer, he said, his voice trailing off. "I mean, every man was important . . . " He stood alone at the lectern and wept....

A Mall Magnate Shapes Rebuilding Of Trade Center

A Mall Magnate Shapes Rebuilding Of Trade Center

NEW YORK -- Frank Lowy wants to put a huge shopping complex on the site of the destroyed World Trade Center. That alarms some prominent New Yorkers, because Mr. Lowy, an Australian mall magnate, controls a 99-year lease on all of the site's retail space.

"We don't want any Dallas-on-the-Hudson outcomes here," says Robert Yaro, head of a coalition of New York civic and cultural institutions, such as the Municipal Art Society, League of Conservation Voters, Guggenheim Museum and Ford Foundation. If Mr. Lowy and his business allies "are not prepared to build and manage an exemplary project, then they'll just have to find another development project to do," Mr Yaro adds. "This one is not just another site...."

Jottings May Cut Insurers' Payouts On Twin Towers

Jottings May Cut Insurers' Payouts On Twin Towers

New York -- IN THE BLOCKBUSTER insurance trial that will decide how much money will be available to rebuild Ground Zero, New York developer Larry Silverstein will be taking on some of the world's largest insurance companies. But one of his biggest headaches may come from an unlikely source: his own top insurance executive.

On Sept. 12, 2001, with four colleagues killed in Silverstein Properties Inc.'s World Trade Center office and the company's midtown office in turmoil, Robert Strachan, Silverstein Properties' risk manager, twice faxed a form that -- if the court finds he was right -- would doom most of Mr. Silverstein's case. Mr. Strachan scribbled on the fax sent to a lawyer for a key government agency: "FYI, the `occurrence' definition," pointing to insurance-contract language that would entitle Mr. Silverstein to only one insurance payment of $3.5 billion, and not the double payment he is seeking for the two airliner attacks on the Twin Towers .

In addition, during a conference call right after the attacks, Mr. Strachan scribbled a series of notes that included this phrase: "Underinsured WTC...."

With Stakes High, Trade Center Trial Hinges on 2 Forms

With Stakes High, Trade Center Trial Hinges on 2 Forms

NEW YORK -- For the past 2 1/2 years, plans to rebuild the World Trade Center have rested on the assumption that developer Larry Silverstein will get insurers to pay him about $7 billion for the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. If so, Mr. Silverstein could probably build the full array of skyscrapers often depicted in drawings of Ground Zero reconstruction.

But seven weeks into a trial with the insurers, Mr. Silverstein finds himself in an uphill struggle to get the money. He contends that the strikes on the north and south towers constituted two events, meaning he should be able to collect the maximum coverage of $3.55 billion twice. Evidence presented at the trial, however, suggests that even several members of his own team initially believed they were entitled only to a single $3.55 billion payment. The insurer with the most money at stake, Swiss Reinsurance Co., says in a press release that Mr. Silverstein cooked up an elaborate "hoax" after Sept. 11 to make it look like he could be eligible for two payments....

Before Ground Zero Rebuilding, $1.3 Billion Has Already Been Spent

Before Ground Zero Rebuilding, $1.3 Billion Has Already Been Spent

...Among the notable payouts, according to court documents and people familiar with the situation: the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre site, has quietly agreed to return all of the $125 million in equity that New York developer Larry Silverstein and his low-profile group of backers originally invested to buy the 99-year leases on the office portion of the complex in July 2001. The full details of that transaction, which closed in December, haven't been released to the public. But the deal effectively eliminates the Silverstein group's capital risk in the project, while allowing the group to retain control of 10 million square feet of office space, the people said....