High Winds Cause Window to Blow Out of Gehry Building

The rear window of this truck shattered on Friday, after a window landed on it from the Gehry-designed tower across the street. There were no reported injuries in the incident. Photo by Jessica Terrell/Tribeca Trib

High winds early Friday morning, Dec. 21, blew out a window on the 19th floor of the Frank Gehry-designed residential tower at 8 Spruce Street, sending it crashing onto a small truck parked across the street.

“Fortunately no one was injured,” Joyce Baumgarten, a spokeswoman for the building's developer, Forest City Ratner, said. “It did fall on the roof of the garage and there was one car that was damaged.”

The apartment window shattered the rear window of a Toyota 4x4 truck parked on the roof of a four-story garage on Beekman Street. By Friday afternoon the car had been moved and most of the glass cleaned up, a garage employee said. The damage also included a broken side mirror.

“We will take care of whatever damage was done,” Baumgarten said.

Hurricane Sandy also had blown windows out of the 76-story tower, completed less than two years ago. No injuries were reported in either incident, Baumgarten said.

P.S. 397, the Spruce Street School, is housed at the base of the building. Principal Nancy Harris said that not only had windows blown out of the building's Spruce Street side during the hurricane, but large panels of glass crashed in front of the William Street plaza entrance. With that in mind, she said, she worried about safety around the school when she arrived there Friday morning around 7 a.m. amid heavy gusts.

"Before I even took my coat off I sat down with my custodian and we wrote an email to the management company expressing concern, and wondering what safeguards were put into place given the history," Harris told the Trib on Saturday. She directed arriving families to come directly into the lobby of the school and not stand outside.

According to Harris, it took hours—long after the wind had died down—to get a response from the company, Cooper Square Management, who she said "pretty much just said if there's anything you need to know, we'll let you know."

A call to Harris from the Trib on Friday about the falling glass, "escalated communication within the [Department of Education]," she said. "And after school we heard back from the management company, saying that one window had blown out and that it was an isolated incident and that everything was fine."

Carl Friedberg, who lives nearby on William Street, has also been concerned about the building. “Something is wrong," he said. "The windows should not come out with this kind of wind.”

Friedberg had been keeping an eye on the high-rise since Sandy, when he noticed shattered glass in the vacant lot next to his building and saw several windows in 8 Spruce boarded up.

“During the storm you could hear the windows popping,” Friedberg said.

Friedberg said his wife saw workers on Friday morning cleaning up glass and carrying a window frame into the garage and then across the street and into the luxury high-rise.

Plywood covered five of the windows on the Beekman Street side of the building on Friday, including the 19th-floor window that had blown out during the night.

Baumgarten said that representatives from the company that supplied the windows were investigating the building’s windows and looking into whatever changes may need to be made. She said she did not know the name of the vendor.

The building did not notify its tenants of the incidents, Baumgarten said. “It's a huge building,” she said.  “There are almost 900 apartments there so obviously I don't want to minimize this, but you know this is just a few.”

“Sandy was an aberration,” Baumgarten said. “It was a huge storm. And this is one window in what was high winds this morning.”

The Department of Buildings did not return multiple calls for comment.

Several visitors to 8 Spruce on Friday said they were aware that there had been some issues with windows during the storm, but they had not heard of the most recent incident.

An employee of Green Apple cleaners, on the ground floor of 8 Spruce, said she would like to have been alerted so she could pay more attention when walking to and from work.

“It’s scary,” said the employee, who did not want to give her name. “For something to fall from that high.”

Baumgarten said that “things do happen” in new buildings but she was confident that falling glass will not be a continuing problem.

“Adjustments need to be made and that's what they are doing,” she said. “And we know we can get this taken care of.”