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A Big Yard

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Hudson Yards is transforming Manhattan’s Far West Side; photo courtesy of Otis.

Otis’ general manager of new equipment across a wide swath of Manhattan shares some of the challenges and details in Hudson Yards.

by Lee Freeland

When in town for the International Association of Elevator Consultants New York Region 26th Annual Fundraiser (ELEVATOR WORLD, November 2019), your author (LF) was fortunate to have the chance to speak with John Corey (JC), general manager, Manhattan new equipment, for Otis, at the company’s 75-employee-strong Manhattan office in One Penn Plaza. Most of the discussion was around Otis’ involvement in the massive Hudson Yards site two blocks away and the challenges associated with coordinating vertical transportation on such a scale.

LF: While being responsible for all new equipment in Manhattan south of 96th Street, what are the challenges you face in coordinating so much equipment going into so many new tall buildings?

JC: In addition to ongoing work in 30 and 35 Hudson Yards, Otis is also supplying the adjacent Spiral, a supertall office building being developed by Tishman Speyer at 66 Hudson Boulevard. Once completed in 2022, the tower will reach 66 stories.

We have a very good reputation in NYC, but you have to keep in mind that you’re often as good as your last job. That pushes us to do the best we can every day. Word travels fast: it’s a big city, but it’s a small city in many ways.

The average experience in this office is well over 25 years. Here, we coordinate not only with the Otis factory, but also our supplier. I have a lot of support from my staff and coworkers. Two who stand out are Construction Superintendent Robbie Spinnato and Project Executive Michael Kaufman. Spinnato has worked for Otis for more than 38 years and was one of 30 Otis employees recognized, globally, for excellence in the field last year, being named “Field Master for New Equipment Installation.” Kaufman was also recognized as part of the same group as “Field Master, Project Management” and has been managing our 30 Hudson Yards projects since 2015.

LF: What are Otis’ most challenging jobs in Hudson Yards?

JC: Working on 30 and 35 Hudson Yards at the same time has been a challenge. At 1,296 ft, 30 Hudson Yards is the tallest in the entire development. Here, we have 63 elevators and nine escalators. We have 20 elevators in the 1,009-ft-tall 35 Hudson Yards. Both include our CompassPlus destination-dispatch system.

We have dedicated Otis employees for Hudson Yards, including Spinnato, Kaufman and a safety manager. As in other parts of Manhattan, we use International Union of Elevator

Constructors Local One labor and appreciate Local One’s flexibility. At the height of the activity, in 2017-2018, we had 70-80 union employees working at Hudson Yards. At the peak of its construction, Hudson Yards had 4,000 workers involved overall.

As intended, Hudson Yards is making the area around the Javits Center more of a destination, and three more hotels are still being built. This development is a big commitment and has been very successful for us.

LF: Is there anything new from Otis for NYC on the horizon?

JC: Skybuild™ is our self-climbing construction package that features a hydraulic assembly with machine, drives and ropes. Below it hangs a fully functioning elevator, complete with fully automatic doors (EW, July 2016). It operates at 700 fpm and is installed in a normal shaft. This gives it an advantage of not having to shut down for wind like outside construction lifts. It’s been successful overseas in such projects as 22 Bishopsgate in London. We have completed the lengthy NYC Department of Buildings approval process for it, so we’re excited for its use here to be among the first in North America.

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