See forever: The opening of the World Trade Center Observation Deck
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See forever: The opening of the World Trade Center Observation Deck

DVS, a division of Ross & Baruzzini, recently helped open the One World Observatory, the Observation Deck located at the top of One World Trade Center. The event was a capstone to more than a decade of work on the 1,776 foot tall building, which anchors the rebuilt World Trade Center and a revamped lower Manhattan skyline.

DVS and the World Trade Center:  A 13 Year Legacy

DVS has been a part of the design and construction effort at the new World Trade Center in New York since as early as 2002 when a team was assembled to begin work on Tower 7, a comparatively modest 52-story  building located just off of the north side of the site.  Since then, DVS has been involved in providing security consulting and engineering services across many aspects of the 16-acre World Trade Center plot, including Towers 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, the PATH Transportation Hub, the Memorial and St. Nicholas Church. DVS has also been engaged in a number of site wide security initiatives aimed at holistically securing the site both during construction and its steady-state full occupancy.

When the Memorial opened on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, we were stationed in the site wide Security Operations Center with the Secret Service, who were using many of the systems that DVS had designed.  When Navy Seals killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011, DVS was there as the One World Trade Center construction workers spent an entire night changing all of the construction lights to red, white, and blue – an effect which made the unfinished tower look like a giant Astro-Pop emerging from the construction site.

In many ways, the road hasn’t been easy. Developing security protocols for the site has been a difficult task involving numerous stakeholders: the City, NYPD, FDNY, the Port Authority of NY & NJ, Silverstein Properties, architects, engineers and consultants. Battles over budgets, schedules, constructability and a Great Recession have compounded the complexity of the task.  Our tenure has seen countless firms and talented designers come and go. Lasting relationships have been forged under the immense pressure to complete the work at hand. Through it all, we have toiled on, and over the past few years, we have seen years of hard work spring to life as skyscrapers have been topped, plazas were opened, and tourists have returned in droves to see the resurgence of downtown New York.

One World Trade Center: A Decade to Reach 1,776 Feet

DVS began work on One World Trade Center (originally called the “Freedom Tower”) back in 2005 as the security consultants and engineer of record for the electronic security system. This involved careful evaluation of almost every aspect of the building’s design and function: structural robustness, façade, floor plan layouts, mechanical and electrical systems, fire detection and suppression, emergency evacuation, vertical transportation, video surveillance, access control and IT.  All of these systems were designed with the mindset of increasing the resiliency and response capabilities of the building.

In 2013, with the completion of its iconic spire, One World Trade Center surpassed the Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. In a deliberate nod to the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, the building now stands at 1,776 feet, towering over the World Trade Center site and the rest of lower Manhattan.

The One World Observatory

DVS began work on the Observation Deck at One World Trade Center in 2013.  The facility, officially dubbed the “One World Observatory,” is operated by Legends Hospitality, an organization created by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees in 2008 with the mission of providing world-class entertainment venues.  The Observatory occupies the 100-102ndFloors with an entry and screening area on the first below-grade level of the building.

DVS was retained to provide security consulting and engineering services for the facility. This included adapting the base building security protocols to fit the function and operations of the Observatory while marrying a number of Observatory and base building electronic systems.  The most challenging aspect was ensuring the visitor screening facility was designed to accommodate the millions of annual guests expected to visit.  This involved evaluating a number of cutting edge screening technologies and collecting screening throughput data from similar facilities.

On May 16, 2015, as construction on the facility completed, DVS was invited to participate in Project Team Appreciation Day which allowed DVS team members and their families to visit the Observatory. This special event provided guests full access to the facility, including the entry lobby and “Foundations” exhibit, the See Forever Theater and all three levels of the Observation Deck. Despite clouds in the forecast, the view from the Observation Deck remained breathtaking.

It was a great day for DVS, Legends and the entire World Trade Center community. To see the Observatory come to life after years of hard work is a tribute to the design team, the operations and ownership group and to the resiliency of lower Manhattan. Without a doubt, the Observatory will be a major attraction for downtown New York for many years to come and will help continue to spur the incredible resurgence that is taking place there.

For those of us who have been around for a decade or longer of work on the World Trade Center site, the event held an even deeper significance.  It was a day to reflect on the dramatic transformation of the site and the many years of hard work that it has taken to get there. The walk back to the nearby DVS project office afterward highlighted another important observation: crowds of tourists clogged the streets, Memorial plaza and newly opened shops, stores and transit facilities. Lower Manhattan is back with a vengeance.

About the Author:

Brian CoulombeBrian Coulombe, PE, is a Principal with DVS specializing in the design and implementation of low voltage systems, fiber optic transmission systems, and secure Ethernet networks. For the past nine years, Brian has served as the project manager for the electronic security systems design and implementation at the World Trade Center site in New York and is also serving as the project manager for the security design and implementation at several other high-profile projects, including Skyrise Miami, Sandy Hook Elementary School and Manhattan West. Brian holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Lehigh University and an MBA from Yale University.

DVS was acquired by Ross & Baruzzini in January and is one of the oldest and most trusted independent security consulting and engineering firms in the United States. DVS has provided risk and protection consulting services since 1964.  For more information visit www.dvssecurity.com

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