It’s fitting that the ironworkers in this photo seem as if they are carrying a metal column with their own arms, with each looking like strongman Gaston in the Disney animated film “Beauty and the Beast.”
The Local 40 union members pictured, who asked to be identified as “Tommy D” and “a partner,” are shown working on construction of Disney’s 1.2-million-sq-ft Manhattan headquarters in Hudson Square.
“Someone recently wrote, ‘You make us look like superheroes,’ and if you look at old comic books you can see that they got some of their inspiration from steel construction,” photographer c.lilianmarlen points out. “The work is incredibly physically demanding, not only in strength, but also in mobility, athletic intelligence and social skills.”
As for her role, the photographer says “capturing the shot was fun.” She adds that “if you keep the distance, your mind will be tricked into seeing things. The cable that the column is hooked to becomes just another piece of the background. The mind is focusing on the big things—the crane, the steel, the energy.”
In the picture, the workers are hanging iron, setting a column at a 45° angle. “The job of the unseen rigger is placing the cable in a way that the column comes down at the perfect angle,” lilianmarlen explains. “Tommy was stabilizing it, while his partner was adjusting the shim plate that goes in between connections.”
Lilianmarlen—who used a Canon EOS 5DS with a resolution of 50.6 megapixels—also termed aspects of the project itself as “engineering marvels that have to withstand constant irregular vibrations” due to the structure’s location next to live train tracks.
The headquarters, slated to finish in 2024, was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill.