Distinctive gullwing exterior will emerge from Lower Manhattan's grid. (Watercolor by Santiago Calatrava)
Commuter trains and subways enter station below ground level. ( Rendering courtesy of DDP)

Never mind the exoticcantilevered steel wings that, like a bird's, will flap to part the transit hall roof or the undulating concrete arches of a sunken public space to the west. Never mind the convoluteda five-acre, five-level basement for the $2.2-billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub, with future projects above, within and beside it. And never mind the supercharged atmosphere engulfing Santiago Calatrava's dove-like symbol of peace at the gateway to the site of the most heinous attack on U.S. soil ever. The builder responsible for landing the dove on its base on time and within budget, while keeping the temporary WTC transit terminal operational, is tied up in knots by something as mundane as subcontractor procurement rules.

"It is the single biggest challenge we are facing," says Gary W. Winsper, project director for local Phoenix Constructors JV, the construction manager-general contractor building the hub. Phoenix consists of Slattery Skanska and Fluor Corp., each with a 32.5% share; Granite Construction Northeast, with 20%; and Bovis Lend Lease, with 15%.

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    The procedures are intended to ensure fair and competitive bidding for the project, funded by the Federal Transit Administration through its grantee, the bi-state Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But they are so cumbersome th`at they are already scaring away bidders, even at this early stage. Winsper says there should be about five bidders per contract, even with a tapped out market. There have been two, maybe three, he says.

    The procedures, more customary for large defense jobs, call for advertising each subcontract, pre- and post-bid conferences, prequalification and vetting of subs and technical and price evaluations of bids. Phoenix can only recommend a sub to the PA, which has final approval.


    The multilayered process is taking up to two months longer than expected, per contract. "We knew [about the rules] going in but we were not aware of how significant the impact would be on our way of doing business," says Winsper.

    Without a lump-sum price, there is little hope for relief. Phoenix's main coping strategy is to self-perform as much work as it can. The contractor is also trying to get potential bidders, at prebid conferences, to identify the least-attractive elements in each package so Phoenix can perform those. Liquidated damages are a hot button because subs don't control all elements that impact their work, especially relating to security. There are discussions about enforcing the schedule other than through liquidated damages.

    Street-level interior provides space and light for travellers (Rendering courtesy of DDP)
    Wedge of Sky. Roof will open as much as 30 ft. every Sept. 11 and on temperate days. (Renderings courtesy of DDP)

    Phoenix can perform those. Liquidated damages are a hot button because subs don't control all elements that impact their work, especially relating to security. There are discussions about enforcing the schedule other than through liquidated damages. Phoenix won its bid for the job last January. The award includes a one-year, $11.5-million construction management contract, which allows Phoenix to work on constructibility with the job's local Downtown Design Partnership, a joint venture of DMJM + Harris and STV Inc., in association with Santiago Calatrava SA. Phoenix claims it has already saved $5 million by re-using existing utility lines for one part of the job. Also wearing its CM hat, Phoenix is developing a guaranteed maximum price for the hub.

    Moving Along

    The project is on a fast-track schedule for a late 2009 completion. Seven early packages, between $100,000 and $7 million, have been let, but the design will not be final until June. That creates another tension. Phoenix wants to build the hub according to "geography," and DDP wants to design it holisticallya building system at a time.

    The contractor is gaining ground. "We are in the midst of reconfiguring to redefine how design packages are prepared," says F. Ross Edwards, DDP's project director. The goal is to get long-lead items, such as escalators, elevators and electrical equipment, ordered soon.

    Concrete Arches. Buried hall will sit west of the dove. The design calls for a concrete and glass ceiling at grade level. (Rendering courtesy of DDP)

    The hub will replace a temporary terminal for the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) tubes constructed after terrorists destroyed the underground original on Sept. 11, 2001. The new hub will ultimately serve 80,000 daily commuters to and from New Jersey, and millions of annual visitors to the WTC site.

    Like an iceberg, only the "tip" of the hub, the white dove, will be visible at street level. An 80-ft-wide stair will connect the hub to the other grand space, the architectural-concrete PATH hall. Housing the paid-fare zone, it is one level below grade to the west of the expressed- steel dove, above the train platforms.

    The rest of the hub will be in a 400 x 250-ft basement, 100 ft deep. The lower three levels are for back of the house functions, and will wrap around the footprints of three planned WTC office towers. The top two levels are primarily pedestrian corridors that will link the WTC site to nearby city subway lines and points east and south. There also is a pedestrian connector from the PATH Hall toward the Hudson River.

    It's a giant three-dimensional puzzle, with overlapping and shared parts. Interface lines vary by level. Stakeholders are vying for limited space, though most of their...