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For Immediate Release
March 15, 2008

STATEMENT ON CRANE COLLAPSE AT 303 EAST 51ST STREET IN MANHATTAN

Earlier today, Buildings inspectors, forensic engineers and high-rise and crane experts responded to emergency calls regarding a crane collapse at 303 East 51st Street in Manhattan, a proposed 43-story new residential building under construction.

A tower crane installed at the construction site, fell southward onto a property across the street at 300 East 51st Street, a 19-story residential building. The fall caused a portion of tower crane's mast, approximately 75 feet in length, to break and fall onto 305 East 50th Street, a four-story residential building with a restaurant/bar on the street level. While search and rescue operations continue, Buildings forensic engineers have confirmed at least six buildings sustained damage:

  • 300 East 51st Street. This is a 19-story mixed use building with 119 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 301 East 50th Street. This is a 6-story residential building with 20 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 305 East 50th Street. This is a 4-story mixed-use building with 4 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 306 East 50th Street. This is a 3-story mixed-use building with 3 dwelling units.

  • 308 East 50th Street. This is a 5-story residential building with 3 dwelling units.

  • 311 East 50th Street (water damage only). This is a 14-story residential building with 111 dwelling units.

A preliminary investigation indicates the accident occurred while workers were adding tower sections to extend the crane upwards, an operation known as "jumping" the crane. While crews were jumping the crane to the 18th floor, a heavy-duty steel collar, which wrapped around the mast of the crane and used to tie the crane to the side of the building, fell as workers attempted to install it. When the steel collar fell, it damaged a lower steel collar, installed at the 9th floor. The collar installed at the 9th floor served as a major anchor securing the tower crane to the building under construction. With the elimination of the support provided by the steel collar at the 9th floor, the counter-weights at the top of the crane's tower caused the entire structure to fall southward.

The investigation into the exact cause of the accident continues. Forensic engineers and inspectors from the Buildings Department remain on scene to provide structural expertise once remedial work begins to remove the broken crane and debris from the accident.

While search and rescue operations continue, Buildings inspectors have issued vacate orders for 16 buildings:

  • 301 East 50th Street / 944 2nd Avenue. This is a 6-story residential building with 20 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 306 East 50th Street. This is a 3-story mixed-use building with 3 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 308 East 50st Street. This is a 5-story residential building with 3 dwelling units.

  • 310 East 50th Street. This is a 3-story residential building with 1 dwelling unit.

  • 311 East 50th Street. This is a 14-story residential building with 111 dwelling units.

  • 300 East 51st Street / 956 2nd Avenue. This is a 19-story mixed use building with 119 dwelling units and commercial use at the street level.

  • 306 East 51st Street. This is a 4-story residential building with 1 dwelling unit.

  • 308 East 51st Street. This is a 5-story residential building with 3 dwelling units.

  • 310 East 51st Street. This is a 5-story residential building with 5 dwelling units.

  • 312 East 51st Street. This is a 5-story residential building with 5 dwelling units.

  • 314 East 51st Street. This is a 5-story residential building with five dwelling units.

  • 318 East 51st Street. This is a 3-story residential building with one dwelling unit.

  • 320 East 51st Street. This is a 2-story residential building with one dwelling unit.

  • 322 East 51st Street. This is a 3-story residential building with two dwelling units.

  • 324 East 51st Street. This is a 1-story residential building with 2 dwelling units.

  • 954 2nd Avenue. This is a 4-story mixed-use building with 6 residential units and commercial space at the street level.

The new building under construction at 305 East 51st Street is part of the Department's High Rise Site Safety Program and is inspected proactively at least once a week by Buildings inspectors.  Inspectors with the Buildings Department's Buildings Enforcement Safety Team (BEST) Squad performed an inspection of the site this morning in preparation for the high winds forecasted for tonight and tomorrow. Upon inspection, a partial Stop Work Order was issued to halt all work associated with concrete operations at the site. This partial Stop Work Order did not apply to crane operations underway at the time of the accident. The partial Stop Work Order was issued because inspectors found material stored too close to the building's edge on several floors, and because the general contractor, RCG Group, failed to provide the approved drawings at the time of inspection.

Owned by New York Crane and manufactured by the Favelle Favco Group, the tower crane has been inspected approximately 5 times over the course of its operation history at 305 East 51st Street. The permit for the crane was issued January 17, 2008 to JCI. The most recent inspection of the crane occurred on Friday, March 14, 2008. On that day, inspectors with the Buildings Department's Cranes & Derricks Unit inspected the mast sections to be used to jump the crane this weekend. No violations were issued as a result of that inspection. Prior to Friday's inspection, the crane was inspected on March 4, when Buildings inspectors scrutinized the crane in response to a complaint and found it to be erected according to the approved crane notice (the crane permit).

Contact:     Kate Lindquist/Carly Sullivan (212) 566-3473

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