Craig Barner/ENR
Trump project brings out business brass and personal touch.

Managing construction of a 92-story building in Chicago takes brass. In Tim Snyder’s case, brass is one of the qualities that got him the job. It was in September 2004. Overseeing the final stages of the 60-story Millennium Centre condominium in Chicago for London-based contractor AMEC PLC, he heard a voice message coming from the office of another AMEC executive.

Andrew Weiss, executive vice president of New York-based Trump Organization was asking the AMEC executive for a candidate to manage the proposed Trump International Tower & Hotel for the company. “I remembered the phone number,” says Snyder, 55. He called Weiss that evening, pitched himself and the rest, as they say, is history. “I wanted to be on that job,” Snyder says.

Record Setter

The 1,360-ft-tall Trump project will be one of the 10 tallest buildings worldwide and the second tallest in the U.S. when it is completed in early 2009. Only the 108-floor Sears Tower will top it, says Geri Kery, operations manager of Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. In mid-June the Trump project is at the 32nd floor.

Today, a problem has arisen from a change to the specification of the concrete for the floor slab of the 29th level. The specification has been bumped from 12,000-psi concrete to 16,000-psi to match the outrigger beams and belt walls forming the building structure as part of the 28th floor.

“It would have taken too much coordination to try to puddle the beams [on floor 28] and pour the floor slab [on level 29] with two different concretes,” he says. “So [the concrete contractor] elected to pour the whole thing at 16,000 psi.”

But solving that problem has created another: light-to-moderate surface cracking on the first two pours of the 29th floor, due in part to the dryness of the  16,000-psi concrete. Debating a solution, team members cannot agree on a fix. Snyder brusquely breaks the deadlock, telling them to decide quickly on how to proceed. Without a plan in place for next week’s meeting with project architect, Chicago-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, the firm’s head of structural engineering “will throw up his arms and say, ‘What are we doing, guys?’” Progress needs to be continuous so the schedule is met and occupancy can occur.

Snyder moves on to the next issue. The phased occupancy plan lists the dates for three occupancies to occur this year. The first will occur Aug. 10 for about 25 to 40 employees in the building’s hotel administrative offices, hotel lobby and parking garage. “For us it is critical to get the ability to occupy this building while we’re still building the upper two-thirds of it,” he says. Because of the documents’ significance, Snyder hand-carries a copy three blocks to the office of the Fire Prevention Bureau for a meeting of the project principals.

Craig Barner/ENR
International Tower & Hotel will add to Windy City’s landmarks.

Personal Touch

But Snyder is not all business and brass. “I learned a long time ago that there’s business, and there’s the people side of the business,” he says. “When we lose that personal element, then we all become business machines. Then there is truly something lost.”

The project’s human side emerges later during the day. Kraig Riebock, an executive with Bovis, calls Snyder to talk about his father’s illness.

Touring the site at day’s end, Snyder gets an update from the curtain wall contractor. Falsework towers are being completed to support outrigger beams to support the canopy.

Snyder’s pride in constructing the nation’s second-tallest building is personal. “This is my Sears Tower,” he says.