Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ground Zero Not in Additional Danger

The New York Post had a cover story titled, "Free-Dumb Tower" on Friday, April 18, 2008. In the article, they discussed how two sets of blueprints (actually, blueprints have been broadly replaced with plots and Digital prints for at least a decade now - but I guess we should not expect the Post to get that right either) for the planned Freedom Tower were discovered in a SoHo trash bin by some homeless guy. On that same day, there were numerous reports on the TV and radio where the reporter or DJ would sensationalize the dangers of how terrorists would just "drool" over such a stupid miss-hap.

Our newsletter, titled "LAD Sketch Pad" had an article about how the architect mistakenly posted security sensitive architectural drawings of the proposed embassy to built in Bagdad. This mistake, I can see would be a dumb act to follow. But having the drawings of the Freedom Tower found in a trash can does not press my buttons the same way.

After 9-11, the security of NYC has tightened but the access of drawings at the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) still remains available to anyone with the proper identification. It is not clear if the DOB protects the sight of drawings such as this building of such publicity, but for most buildings in the city, all one needs to do is visit the NYC DOB's website to view all sorts of important data of any building in the city.

Some of these tid bits of information include: the certificate of occupancy that tells how many stories the building is, what uses are allowed on each floor, how many people can occupy each floor, what the maximum structural live load that is allowed on each floor, and the block/lot address location of the building. You can also find out what architect and/or engineer signed and sealed the drawings and forms that were filed at the DOB for each trade (plumbing, mechanical, general construction) of each building. Unfortunately, it is also very easy for a low paid draftsman at any of these architectural or engineering offices to back up computer drawings of the proposed building onto a portable thumb drive and then distribute it anyway that they see fit. So, finding the drawings in a trash can is the least of our troubles.

This latest story will profit the media and possibly the homeless man that found the drawings long before any terrorist attempts to have access to those misplaced papers.

Oh, by the way, if you are still going to be uneasy about terrorist having access to drawings of your home or office building. Then rest easy, many drawings of the existing buildings in NYC have somehow vanished in the past two or three decades. They are not anywhere to be found. The paper documents and the micorfilm copies of the drawings and forms are often of renovation projects within existing buildings. Since they are renovations and not proposed new buildings, the existing superstructure and other supporting trades are not shown in any accurate and dependable detail.

So, if someone with ill-will intensions tried to use these possibly inaccurate drawings, they might find themselves punching through your neighbor's walls with plumbing risers instead of through your apartment or office space.


thedirectpath said...

Larry, you never cease to amaze me with your creativity and knowledge base. Keep the useful information from all angles coming, so I can pass along to my colleagues who are residential and commercial realtors!

Netnurse said...

Thanks for "the other side" of the news so to speak related to architecture, safety and security. You know, it is stuff like that, when we all took a careful look and retrospect on 911, (hello..anyone see United 93) that made ya go....WTF??

It's those little slip ups that cost thousands of people their lives.