- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Buried virtually unnoticed in the rubble of the World Trade Center's landmark twin towers — which collapsed with a force equal to a minor earthquake — are two other skyscrapers and several shorter buildings that fell, were crushed, or may tumble momentarily.

Thought to be at imminent risk are the sleek 53-story One Liberty Plaza building, the new home of the Nasdaq Stock Market, that stands one block east of the center on the historic site of the old Singer Building, once the "world's tallest building," and the American Express Building, which is in the World Financial Center on the west side of the collapsed towers.

The top 10 floors of One Liberty Plaza began buckling yesterday afternoon, forcing nearby rescue workers to flee the area surrounding the empty building. Rescue personnel working around and in the American Express Building, which was being used as an emergency triage center, were also forced to evacuate yesterday afternoon when emergency officials thought it might collapse.

Like the towers that collapsed after Tuesday's terrorist attack in New York City, One Liberty Plaza's structural integrity was reportedly weakened by intense heat from the towers' fires started when each was hit by a hijacked jet airliner laden with so much fuel they were flying bombs.

Each airliner's impact was the equivalent of a minor earthquake measuring 0.8 on the Richter Scale, and the collapsing buildings measured out at 2.0. The Richter Scale technically applies only to true earthquakes.

Other buildings toppled in Tuesday's attack were the 22-story Marriott World Trade Center hotel and the adjacent "Building 7," the usual home of New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani's Office of Emergency Management, which was relocated, and 760 federal employees who worked on eight of the building's 46 floors.

Regardless of whether One Liberty Plaza falls, analysts say the 28-year-old building at 165 Broadway at Liberty Street is no longer stable and must be demolished, according to CoStar Group, an information service for commercial real-estate interests. It was refinanced in January for $432 million.

Despite the grim assessments, Brascan Corp., the Canadian company that owns One Liberty Plaza, and two other buildings in the World Financial Center, disputed reports that any of its properties were in danger of collapse.

Nasdaq spokesman Scott Peterson said only 10 percent of the organization's employees work in the building and that its loss would not have an impact on the technical operations of the equity market when it reopens.

The six-floor U.S. Customs House, at which more than 2,000 federal employees work, stands amid the devastation within the World Trade Center complex, stripped of power and other utilities and likely uninhabitable for some time if ever.

The General Services Administration headquarters in Washington did not respond to inquiries about the fate of an estimated 2,800 federal workers, including "Building 7" workers, or where survivors' jobs will be relocated.

Despite the absence of GSA comment, other federal sources and a published report in the trade journal Government Executive said few government workers were inside the buildings when the attack began at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday. All but "a handful" are reported safely accounted for but no comprehensive figure was confirmed.

In addition to the Customs Service, CoStar lists other tenants in that relatively small building as the Departments of Labor (OSHA), Commerce, and Agriculture, plus the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and the Export-Import Bank.

Large federal tenants listed by CoStar rented a quarter million square feet of space in "Building 7" where 760 government employees toiled.


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