Valley engineers play key role in $20B Manhattan project

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The Hudson Yards worksite in Manhattan, a $20 billion project that is using the services of Langan Engineering and Environmental Services in Bethlehem.
The Hudson Yards worksite in Manhattan, a $20 billion project that is using the services of Langan Engineering and Environmental Services in Bethlehem.

While the World Trade Center in New York City gets built, so too will a new large-scale development that will forever change the Manhattan skyline – a $20 billion project in which a Bethlehem firm is playing a critical role.

Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, which has an office in Bethlehem, is performing geotechnical services and engineering for the site of Hudson Yards, a project that will create a series of multistory buildings, one of which will be nearly 80 stories, on a platform above active railroad yards.

“We are involved in the foundation design and inspection of construction,” said Michael Paquette, senior project engineer for Langan and who is based in Bethlehem. “Each rail yard will remain active before, during and after the towers will be built on top.”

The firm has been involved in the project since it originally was envisioned as the future site for the New York Jets stadium.

The original work began in 2004, although construction on Hudson Yards did not start until December 2012, Paquette said. It will be several more years before the project is fully complete.

“I think the biggest challenge is, we are building something that’s never been done before in New York City,” Paquette said. “There are a lot of players reviewing everything.”

About five to 15 employees from Langan are working on the project at any given time, added Paquette, the lead manager for the project.

Construction includes carrying very massive columns and drilling deep into the rock, Paquette said. Depth ranges in New York City vary significantly, too, according to Paquette. Columns need to go about 15 feet deep on the East side and down to 100 feet on the West side.

One of the big challenges is just getting the materials to the site and building massive foundations while the site is still active, Paquette said.

The rail yards beneath the platform where the towers will be built include Amtrak and New Jersey Transit tunnels that run directly to Penn Station, he added.

“We did some advance load-testing on the rock,” Paquette said. “We were able to save the client a lot of money because our testing program was able to prove that the rock has higher capacity.”

According to the website www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com, the first of 17 buildings will open in 2015. The project includes a mix of retail, dining, office and residential space. The site covers 28 acres; 14 of these acres will be for new parks and open space.

Related Companies, a real estate firm in New York City and Oxford Properties Group, a global real estate firm, are coordinating the development of the project.

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it. Brian also has a strong interest in health and fitness. He works part-time as a personal trainer at Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem and earned his personal fitness trainer certification from World Instructor Training Schools. He loves to run and will be competing in his first half-marathon on Nov. 23 to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

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