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people & awards
THE TOP 25 NEWSMAKERS 2002

Many people in many ways serve the best interests of the construction industry. The editors of ENR have chosen the following individuals for achievements covered in the magazine in 2001. All of those cited here will be honored at lunch and dinner events on April 18, 2002, at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. One of them already has been chosen to receive the Award of Excellence, ENR's highest honor, and will be the subject of a cover story in the magazine's April 22 issue.

When the Pentagon was struck by a hijacked plane on Sept. 11, Dan M. Fraunfelter, a 24-year-old project engineer, was on the job, working on the Pentagon renovation for Wedge One contractor AMEC. He knew the notoriously confusing layout of the building and guided an ad hoc party of rescuers that came together in a smoke-filled hall. They searched offices and corridors on four floors above the crash site, sometimes crawling below the smoke and using wet shirts for masks, before they sought their own safety. Fraunfelter and his companions aided 40 or 50 dazed survivors, disoriented and choked by smoke. Once out of the burning structure, he ran to his office, grabbed plans and spent the rest of the day and most of the night briefing emergency workers and rescue crews on the layout and search areas.

Fully linking cities into high-speed nationwide fiber-optic networks now is possible because one telecommunications entrepreneur has solved the 20-year-old problematic "last-mile" gap of replacing slow-transmitting copper wire with fiber. Robert G. Berger, founder and chief executive officer of CityNet Telecommunications Inc., and a former county sewer commissioner, devised a solution that uses Swiss-made robots to string the cable from metro-area or beltway networks to downtown commercial buildings through existing sanitary and storm sewer lines. Use of the robots, which were originally designed to map and inspect pipe, is 60% faster than trenching and avoids surface damage and traffic disruptions.

Hundreds of structural engineers were needed at Ground Zero to find safe passage for rescue workers crawling over, under and around unstable debris and through the teetering remains of the World Trade Center. Rescuers needed "flash" engineering decisions to assess the structural stability of damaged buildings and to provide safe, secure routes for construction workers, vehicles and equipment. Local structural engineer Ramon Gilsanz knew immediately that the job was too big for one firm, or even four or five, to handle. By Sept. 13, his proposal to mobilize members of the Structural Engineers Association of New York had been accepted by the city and SEAoNY had begun its team rotation, which still continues. More than 400 engineers have participated in the effort, which the city has likened to having an engineering academy at its disposal.

Ending years of indecision and bucking strong political pressure, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman stunned critics when she decided corporate giant General Electric Co. should dredge 2.6 million cu yd of polychlorinated biphenyl contaminated sediment in a $460-million cleanup of New York's Hudson River. GE legally had dumped PCBs, used to cool transformers, into the river over a 35-year period until the late 1970s as part of a manufacturing process. It later spent more than $200 million on controls at two upriver plants. But the effort did not remove contaminated sediment from the lower 200 miles, which was declared a Superfund site in 1984. Whitman's ruling sets in motion an inexorable process that could also set the stage for other extensive PCB cleanups.

James Abadie

Robert G. Berger

John Burland

Michael Burton

Donald R. Carson

Warren G. Clary

Anthony Del Vescovo

Henry A. Edwardo

Dan M. Fraunfelter

Philip E. Geiger

Douglas P. Gillingham

Ramon Gilsanz

John H. Kissinger

Michael Lembo

Pablo Lopez

Daniel R. McDermott

Damian Murphy

Frank A. Nicotera

Ronald W. Oakley

Steven C. Sands

Terry Strobel

Jean-Paul Teyssandier

Dean Tills

Christine T. Whitman

George E. Wittich

A 400-Mw shortfall in electric-generation peak capacity loomed before New York City for summer 2001. In December 2000, Slattery Skanska Inc.'s Michael Lembo promised the New York Power Authority 450 Mw of new capacity in seven scattered sites by June 1 to meet the threat. Putting in 100-hour work weeks, he led, pushed and cajoled to keep the entire project team focused on timely completion of the $200-million, fast-track program.

Inspired by architect Rafael Viñoly's drive for transparency and minimal structure, structural engineer Damian Murphy of Dewhurst MacFarlane and Partners, in association with Joseph Goldreich, developed a block-long and wide vaulted skylight for Philadelphia's Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts that has no match anywhere. The nearly 90-ft-tall structural glass end walls that enclosed the center's glass and steel Vierendeel truss roof can move up to 32 in. in or out under wind load, thanks to a one-way tensioned cable system weighted down by a series of cast-iron blocks.

Michael Burton, executive deputy commissioner of the New York City Dept. of Design & Construction, organized the construction industry response to the massive devastation caused by the attacks on the twin 110-story towers of the World Trade Center. Amid the chaos, he marshalled engineers to assess conditions at the 16-acre site. He developed a construction management plan to organize contractors, work crews and equipment that were assisting fire and police personnel in round-the-clock rescue, recovery and debris removal. In succeeding months, Burton has been the "go-to guy" on all Ground Zero activities as work transitioned to the long-term tasks of cleanup, site stability, infrastructure repair and reconstruction preparation. With no time to develop formal project protocols, he still has managed to lead his team successfully through the labyrinth of government rules, labor-management relations and political challenges to fast-track the safe completion of a job that will help the city and the nation heal the wounds of Sept. 11.

Ironworker Terry Strobel epitomizes the spirit and determination of all building tradespeople who lent their skills and energy to assist in Ground Zero rescue and recovery efforts. He arrived at the stricken World Trade Center site as a volunteer, climbing on unstable debris and grabbing his cutting torch without hesitation if it could free someone trapped in the rubble. Fellow members of ironworkers' union Local 40 are not sure if Strobel slept during the first hellish week because he always seemed to be there. As a crane foreman, Strobel was often first on the scene to burn steel, whether high above the site perched in a basket or down in the smoky, acrid depths of the excavation crater. If the work was risky, that only seemed to inspire him to push on, with a can-do attitude that was contagious to his crews. For Strobel, it was always, "Let's go…who's coming with me?"

Navigating the choppy waters of both the Gulf of Corinth and the gulf between a build-operate-transfer consortium and the Greek government, Jean-Paul Teyssandier is keeping the $650-million Rion-Antirion bridge project on course. As managing director of Athens-based Gefyra S.A., Teyssandier waged a 15-year battle to convince a wary government and hesitant European Investment Bank that the 2.9-kilometer bridge could be built. Teyssandier led a team in creating technical innovations, and worked tirelessly on negotiations with the government. Crews are sinking 90-meter-dia concrete footings, reinforced by more than 150 steel tubes driven 25 m into the seismically active seabed.

As project manager for tunneling contractor Schiavone Construction Co. on its first building foundation job, Anthony Del Vescovo wedged his team between a rock and a delicate place–the basement under Carnegie Hall's Isaac Stern Auditorium. Despite numerous space, noise and vibration restrictions and hardship conditions, the team managed to gouge, pound and blast 6,900 cu yd of mica schist from the cave. The work, which required special equipment and careful shoring of the historic concert hall above while removing its under-floor columns, not only launched the space's transformation into a state-of-the-art concert hall, it also was completed in 22 months.

Contractor executives called in to help at the devastated World Trade Center site were already spread pretty thin managing many other company projects when the planes hit on Sept. 11. But that didn't stop them from halting work and lending managers, crews, equipment and their own skills to the rescue effort when so many lives were at stake. James Abadie, senior vice president of Bovis Lend Lease, took up that challenge. He was on site by late afternoon that first day and didn't leave for the next 72 hours. Abadie became a key leader of the Ground Zero construction response, making critical decisions, working closely with government officials, settling tensions between labor and management and ensuring coordination among the many site participants and missions. With Bovis now tapped as operations manager for the entire site, it is no surprise that city officials chose Abadie as the man in charge.

Placing structural steel can be much safer for ironworkers since Daniel R. McDermott, a retired 40-year-veteran ironworker, invented and patented the Connector, a self-contained, hydraulic motor-driven, battery-powered crane attachment. The device can clamp or unclamp four case-hardened steel jaws onto girder, pipe and rebar loads in only two to three seconds. Certified to lift 57,000 lb and with a safe working load of 11,000 lb, the device simplifies rigging and steel placement by allowing only one worker to place and release the steel remotely. Unlike chokers, the Connector can hold the steel at steep angles. The device eliminates slippage, minimizes release and hook-up time and helps reduce injuries by keeping workers off the girders.

Weeks Marine Inc. has worked on and near water for decades, but nothing could have prepared it for the tsunami of a challenge in removing from Manhattan Island more than 2 million tons of structural steel and other debris left by the collapse of the World Trade Center. Almost immediately after terrorists slammed into the twin towers, Senior Vice President George E. Wittich began to steer the firm's marine-based response. Tugboats ferried emergency workers and refugees in and out of lower Manhattan. Wittich, a skilled tugboat captain with a Wharton School MBA, marshalled volunteers throughout the diverse Weeks operation and skillfully negotiated with government agencies to dredge two waterfront sites and build a marine disposal operation that was up and running in just over a week. Four huge cranes now offload an average of 600 truckloads of debris each day to the city's landfill and to steel recycling sites. The operation avoids clogging city streets.

Within days of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the operating engineers' union dispatched its mobile hazardous materials unit to the site to make sure that rescuers operating equipment and toiling in and around the rubble had the proper personal protective equipment and training. Donald R. Carson, director of the West Virginia-based International Environmental Technology and Training Center, coordinated the team's response and distribution of almost 10,000 respirators and thousands of hardhats and safety glasses to construction workers, fire and police personnel and even the National Guard. The union also conducted independent air sampling to ensure that workers were properly protected. Still at the site, the haz-mat unit has partnered with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the city to develop and administer a three-hour, site-specific safety course that all people working in the rubble now are required to take.

By bringing the information technology revolution to a $1.1-billion, three-year statewide school renovation program Philip E. Geiger, executive director of the Arizona School Facilities Board, is helping state officials, control costs and keep on schedule over 6,300 concurrent projects at 1,210 schools. The process, the first of its type in the U.S., also is being used for a $1.1-billion new school construction program. Geiger conceived of a large Web-based extranet, created using off-the-shelf software, to link all 228 school districts with architects, contractors, and state supervisors to promote project collaboration and ensure efficient management. The extranet minimizes paperwork and supports central control, facilitating decision-making, bid letting and prompt pay.

Pablo Lopez has been called the Jacques Cousteau at Ground Zero for geotechnical firm Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers. The structural integrity of the collapsed World Trade Center's slurry wall foundation, which was keeping the Hudson River at bay, was in question. Someone had to go in and inspect. Lopez and his colleagues inflated rafts and paddled through a flooded transit station, making structural assessments along the way. As a result of this and other expeditions, the slurry wall was pronounced conditionally stable. Lopez has been a key player in the ongoing work to stabilize this critical structure through the installation of hundreds of new tiebacks.

In the first hours after a hijacked Boeing 757 slammed into the Pentagon, volunteers from four metropolitan area Urban Search and Rescue teams braved the fire and smoke to rescue survivors and shore up the damaged Dept. of Defense headquarters. Dean Tills, a principal with ReStl Designers Inc., Gaithersburg, Md., spent the next 36 hours directing the structural evaluation and shoring operation as the lead structural engineer on the Fairfax County, Va., unit. Emergency rescue work has become a big part of Tills' life. In 1995, he founded the Rescue Engineering Council, a nonprofit educational association for engineers and heavy riggers to exchange information.

Engineer John H. Kissinger, of Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer & Associates Inc., helped make possible the realization of designer Santiago Calatrava's vision for a $75-million addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. Kissinger is responsible for the structural design of the complex project, which is made up of several distinct elements, each of which would have been challenging to engineer and difficult to build in its own right. A yacht-like entry pavilion supports a skylight in the form of a billowing sail, a cable-stayed footbridge seems like a gangway and a one-of-a-kind 110-ton kinetic sunscreen spreads its "wings" to a span of 200 ft. Cantilevers test the limits of concrete and elements slant, curve and skew in every direction.

The Data Track System developed by Frank A. Nicotera, a Florida civil engineer, links accounting software, truck-mounted chips, scanners, and bar-coded tickets to automate the process of tracking and accounting for loads of fill during excavation and construction. Customers say the system virtually eliminates data entry errors and theft that have long- plagued the business, and introduces accounting efficiencies that some say enable them to commit to larger jobs than they ever could have handled before.

Warren G. Clary, an engineer with the Florida Dept. of Transportation, came up with an idea that is advancing the prospects for paperless construction by using a traditional seal and signature to secure electronic data. A system developed from his idea lets his department distribute complete sets of plans on CD-ROM by covering them with a conventionally signed, sealed and printed manifest that also has an electronic signature tied to every document in the set. The veracity of the set can be tested using FDOT-supplied software. A number is generated, and if it matches the number on the printed manifest, the validity of the entire set is assured. The Professionals' Electronic Data Delivery System he has helped develop has been approved by the Florida Board of Professional Engineers and is being used and refined on a turnpike expansion project under construction. The job's 1,200 plan sheets and supporting data were distributed on two cds and a few sheets of paper.

Because of Ronald W. Oakley, president of Fluor Daniel's infrastructure group, South Carolina finally has a highway that lets the 16 million tourists a year who go to Myrtle Beach get there without tying up traffic in all the small towns along the 85-mile stretch between Interstate 95 and the beach. Oakley was able to shave $82 million off the original $465-million cost of the project and seven months off the delivery time in spite of a hurricane, killer floods and environmental sensitivities. In the end, Fluor returned more than $300,000 to the state. To help speed the delivery process, Oakley convinced state officials to adopt a contract that clearly defined the state's rights but allowed Fluor to design and build the highway without obstruction. Highway officials applaud the contract now as a model for other states.

Concurrent construction at separate sites is shaving a year off the schedule and $5 million off the cost of replacing Pennsylvania's 100-year-old Braddock Dam. Henry A. Edwardo has managed the Army Corps of Engineers' $107.4-million project to build the dam using "in-the-wet" construction techniques. This method of prefabrication has been commonly applied to offshore marine construction, but this is its first application for an inland-waterways navigation dam. The first of two concrete modules, 330 x 106 x 33 ft and built in an off-river casting basin like a ship, was floated up the Monongahela River in July for fit-up. It was installed in December in less than three days. The project will be completed this summer.

As design project manager for Boyle Engineering Corp., Douglas P. Gillingham was instrumental in guiding Olivenhain Municipal Water District in the development and design of the world's largest ultrafiltration treatment plant. When the $30-million facility comes on line late this winter in eastern San Diego County, Calif., membranes supplied by Ontario-based Zenon Environmental Inc. will eliminate much of the conventional water treatment process, saving space, reducing sludge production and allowing easy expansion. At 242 x 102 ft, the plant's site is only 25% of a conventional plant's footprint.

Eliminating a $15-billion environmental problem while safely disposing of dredged spoils is possible in Pennsylvania because state environmental officials teamed with Steven C. Sands, president of Consolidated Technologies Inc. Sands developed mine reclamation technology being successfully used to permanently cap and recontour the Bark Camp strip mine. About 400,000 cu yd of material has been applied. The mix combines dredged spoil with combustion by-products, waste lime and waste cement to form a very dry, organic-free pozzolanic cement. This project is funded exclusively through tipping fees. Pennsylvania is considering statewide use to seal off water intrusion as many as 250,000 acres of abandoned mines to break the devastating cycle of acid mine damage.

John Burland, professor of civil engineering at Imperial College, London, boldly led the rescue of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Previous plans developed for 16 earlier rescue committees had called for massive disruption to the foundations and tower, which had been tilting more and more for centuries. Convinced that maximum delicacy was required, Burland adopted a potentially perilous technique of extracting soil from under the tower using controlled drilling. He and his team ultimately proved the doubters wrong by reversing the tilt, and adding centuries to the tower's remaining life.

Deeds Beyond Words And Awards

In the 36 years that ENR editors have been picking individuals who have made a contribution to the industry, there has never been an event as profound as the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. Thousands were killed and many people from all walks of life rose to the occasion by acting heroically.    

This year, the 16 ENR editors who picked the Top 25 Newsmakers, from which the single Award of Excellence winner will be named later, struggled with the task. ENR awards are not made posthumously and the editors were aware that those who gave their lives while helping others have made the supreme sacrifice that cannot be adequately recognized by any award.

    Many of the winners this year are being recognized for their contributions at the World Trade Center and Pentagon sites. They, in particular, represent group efforts. These winners emphasize that they did not act alone, are a little uncomfortable about being singled out for recognition and salute their colleagues. Many more could have been added. Although all events last year were overshadowed by the Sept. 11 attack, the editors felt that individuals in more traditional construction activities also should be recognized.

    But ENR wishes to honor the unsung and even unknown heroes, living and dead, who pulled this nation together in a way not seen since World War II. ENR plans a special tribute to them on April 18, when the award winners will be honored at a luncheon and dinner in New York.


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