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News > Case Studies > Wilson Tool helps New York’s Freedom Tower reach inspiring height

Wilson Tool helps New York’s Freedom Tower reach inspiring height

Kusack Architectural Metals relied on WT-style press brake tooling to form multiple acute angle bends for One World Trade Center. 

January 10, 2017

One World Trade Center (1 WTC), also known as Freedom Tower, is steadily rising to fill the void left in the Manhattan skyline after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11. Once complete, the 1,776-foot skyscraper will be the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

At the top of the tower will be a 408-foot spire to support a world-class broadcast antenna that will serve television and radio broadcast facilities housed in 1 WTC.

The 18-piece steel spire weighs 800 tons and was manufactured at facilities in Canada and New Jersey, then shipped to Ground Zero. The final two pieces to be installed make up the top 45 feet of the spire and will form a stainless steel beacon weighing nearly six tons.   

Brooklyn-based Kusack Architectural Metals, Inc. (KAM) was contracted by structural steel fabrication firm DCM Erectors to fabricate and install the decorative stainless steel cladding that surrounds the beacon.

“We were really honored to be a part of this project. There’s so much work that’s gone into this building. It’s amazing,” said Sam Kusack, president of KAM. “We’re all New Yorkers so the project had special meaning to everyone in our company.”

Fabrication of the cladding began in the summer of 2012, but was delayed after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. The KAM headquarters is in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York, where water from the storm surge reached six feet above street level.

According to Kusack, the company’s main shop floor sits about 48 inches above the street and was under 30 inches of standing water and diesel oil after the storm. Every piece of equipment was submerged, garbage was everywhere and the shop was without power for about four weeks.

Once power was restored and the water had receded the equipment needed to be repaired before the shop could return to business as usual. All told, downtime after the hurricane added about six weeks to what would have been a 5-month job.

Despite these overwhelming setbacks, the company processed around 14,000 pounds of 1/4-inch, 316 stainless steel to create the seven tons of decorative cladding that is now mounted to the frame of the beacon.

To fabricate the decorative cladding, KAM’s press brake operators had to perform multiple acute angle bends in each piece.

Bending the seven-gauge stainless steel into acute angles was a fairly complex operation. To accomplish these tricky bends, KAM relied on WT-style precision™ press brake tooling from Wilson Tool.

WT-style press brake tooling is precision ground to a tolerance of +/- .0004 inch on critical dimensions to ensure reliable performance and help fabricators achieve more accurate angles.

“Wilson Tool’s press brake tooling worked really well for bending the acute angles,” said Kusack. “We’ve worked with them for years because of the quality of their tooling, the technical support and custom capabilities they offer. They are also a U.S. company, which is important to us.” 

KAM fabricated all of the panels for the decorative cladding and installed them on the framework for the spire, which was built by DCM Erectors at a shop in New Jersey. Once complete, the entire spire was then shipped to the site in one piece using a special carrier built specifically for that purpose.

Installing the spire will take several weeks, but once the final two pieces are hoisted into place at the top of 1 WTC, the tower will at long last reach its final height of 1,776 feet.

“This was really a meaningful project for us,” said Kusack. “I saw the towers fall from Brooklyn in 2001. When the time comes, I’ll try to be at the site to get a view of them installing these last two pieces.” 

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