Monday, September 28, 2009

102 Storeys, 19 months, 1931


Architect William F Lamb had been given a very simple brief, the Empire State Building was to have as many floors as possible, was to be as big as possible, no space to be more than 28 feet from window to corridor and to be completed on May 1, 1931 at an agreed fixed cost.

4 Weeks Later the design and execution strategy had been decided upon. It was to be a collaboration using the combined talents of Balcom – Steel Frames, Jones – Elavators, Brutsky – Plumbing, Starrett – Contractor, Meyer – HVAC with Lamb and Raskob the masterminds driving it.

While being interviewed as a potential contractor, Paul Starrett was asked how much plant and equipment he had to carry out the work. His Reply was crisp “Not a thing, Not even a pick and shovel”

Having bowled over his interviewers, he was quick to add: “Gentleman this building of yours is going to present unusual problems. Ordinary equipment wont be worth a demn on it. We will buy new equipment fitted for the job and at the end sell it and credit you with difference. That’s what we do on every big job.”

The May 1 deadline was indeed met and to this day, no-one has ever matched the construction time period of just 19 months, to complete a 102 storey building.

Michelle Govender
Association Minute Secretary

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