Work resumes at W Hotel after accident


Work on the new W Hotel stopped for 10 days starting March 31 after a piece of plywood flew off the building and fell 44 stories.

The plywood blew across the street and landed on the Port Authority’s field office for World Trade Center work. No one was hurt, Port spokesperson Steve Coleman said.

After the accident, the Dept. of Buildings stopped work on the W Hotel, under construction at 123 Washington St. The D.O.B. allowed work to resume at the end of last week, after contractor Tishman Construction Corp. added more netting to the building, said Oskar Brecher, director of development at The Moinian Group, which is building the 57-story condo and hotel tower.

“We are doing things beyond what the norm is,” Brecher said. “We’ll try to mitigate all this so it doesn’t happen again.”

The plywood that fell was part of the formwork used to shape liquid concrete. Once the concrete cures, workers remove the plywood with crowbars. As they were removing the plywood on March 31, a piece of it unexpectedly broke off.

“That’s not unusual,” Brecher said. “What’s unusual is that it was picked up by a gust of wind and flew off to the side.”

The new netting added to the building will wrap all the floors where plywood formwork is in place. The Moinian Group is also adding more safety personnel to the site, Brecher said.

This is not the first accident or report of falling material at the W Hotel. In January, a drunk construction worker jumped off the 36th floor of the building into protective netting and more wood fell off the site on the same day, landing on Albany St.

The most recent falling plywood came four days before a hammer fell from another building under Tishman’s watch, the new Goldman Sachs headquarters in Battery Park City. No one was injured there either, but the hammer hit a taxi and it was the third serious accident on that project involving falling material.

Tishman deferred comments on the W Hotel to Brecher.

Moinian expects to open the W Hotel’s 217 hotel rooms this summer, though Moinian executives have said they will wait until the Deutsche Bank building across the street comes down before they begin filling the 223 condos on the upper floors.

— Julie Shapiro