Safety News - 14 : New York WTC 'Cocoon'

NEW YORK — Workers building the signature tower at the World Trade Center site are being protected by a state-of-the-art “cocoon,” designed to keep them — and anything else — from falling off.

Safety is a top priority for the Port Authority, Steve Plate, the Port Authority’s director of World Trade Center construction, said during a presentation on what he called a “first-of-its-kind perimeter protection system” during today’s board meeting.

For that reason, the agency has agreed to pay $9 million to DCM Erectors of New York City to wrap what is essentially a four-story blue cage around the uppermost floors of One World Trade Center , the building formerly known as the Freedom Tower , now under construction.

“The cocoon is the first of its kind to be used on a steel skyscraper in New York City ,” Plate told Port Authority board members.

As the building climbs toward is 1,776-foot height, Plate said, the device will be hoisted up it’s exterior, continually wrapping around the uppermost floors where the steel framework is being erected.

“The cocoon will move up and encapsulate the iron workers as they do their job,” Plate added.

Below the four floors of blue cocoon will hang another 16 stories of fire resistant netting.

Plate said it could also be used essentially as a huge, four-sided billboard, bearing, for example, the Port Authority logo. As the future tallest building in New York rises above the lower Manhattan skyline, Plate said, it will provide what he called “a unique communications opportunity.”