With the exception of the World Trade Center, there’s probably no better place to call a press conference dealing with construction issues than Atlantic Yards. At the moment the controversial project practically guarantees a large press turnout. On Tuesday, the Department of Buildings used the site as a backdrop to launch a new safety campaign for the 7th Annual Workers Safety Week with a particular focus on getting workers to wear harnesses. Sixteen workers have fallen to their death since 2008, prompting the agency to call the campaign “Experience is Not Enough.” In addition to covering the initiative, the press also got a chance to check out progress at the stadium site from “court level.”
But while DOB officials talked safety on the site, off site Dean Street Alliance president Peter Krashes complained that there were still problems for workers and neighbors. “If the community is affected, then the workers must be, too,” he said of dust and noise. “The problem with Atlantic Yards is there are holes in oversight by the Empire State Development Corporation.” Still, Krashes did not hold the DOB directly accountable. “This is not a criticism of DOB, in many respects they’ve been responsive to us.”
DOB’s Acting First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello said they chose the site for the safety-themed event because DOB wanted to highlight “the guys that are doing it right.” He added they wanted to get the message out to some of the old timers who have been on the job for 20 to 30 years. “We’re trying to report any incident that happens on a site,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if its union or non union.” To that end, thousands of campaign posters will be distributed to sites throughout the city translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Polish.
Also on hand was Linda Chiarelli, deputy director of construction for Forest City Ratner. She stopped by to check on progress and talked about the rusted steel curtain wall designed by SHoP Architects. Chiarelli was on her way to Indianapolis, where the steel panels are being produced, then shipped to New York as assembled units and fastened to the building frame. She said they hope to have a mock-up unit two blocks away within two months. She described the appearance of the wet and dry cycle machine being used to accelerate panel rust as looking like “a giant dry cleaning machine.” With over 11,000 distinct panels to process, one hopes they don’t lose any tickets.