Gardiner-based metalworking company KC Fabrications Inc. has been chosen to create thick bronze name plates for the National September 11 Memorial in Manhattan. Chris Powers and Kurt W ulfmeyer, the co-founders of the firm, call the industrial section of Steve’s Lane home. Inside their spacious work area stood wavy shark-tail like benches, a massive rocking sculpture to rival anything in Dia:Beacon and a special reproduction of an Alexander Calder piece.
Compared to their larger profile of work, the 9/11 Memorial name plates might seem simple, but there is a lot of engineering marvels hidden in the piece. When assembled and unveiled on Sept. 11, 2011, there will be roughly 160 plates with 22 names on each piece interlinking and ringing the empty footprints of the two towers.
The small firm won out against bigger name fabricators on the $10 million contract because they essentially redesigned and simplified the kind of work that the Memorial Foundation and the World Trade Committee had wanted -- especially with that deadline closing in on them.
“We took it upon ourselves to redesign everything -- to re-engineer,” Powers said. “We told them, ‘this is how you’ll meet your schedule.’”
Powers and Wulfmeyer ditched much of the sanding and labor-intensive work the plans called for, and they’ll instead have names on the bronze plates stenciled out by super-powered water jets. The plates themselves will be machined to a precision where there won’t be much guess-work in fitting them together either.
Right now, the Memorial Foundation plans to turn Ground Zero into 8 acres with 400 planted trees surrounding reflecting pools which mark the former positions of World Trade Center 1 and 2. KC Fabrications’ plates will form a parapet of nearly 3,000 victims’ names around the reflecting pools, which will drain into the largest manmade waterfalls ever constructed.
For Gardiner Supervisor Joe Katz, the local firm’s success is nothing but good news.
“It will have some economic effect on Gardiner,” Katz explained. KC Fabrications plans to hire five additional crew members and work with a single-minded focus on getting the name plates done. Those extra workers will likely spend time shopping and eating in Gardiner.
“There’s going to be a lot of people coming to Gardiner,” Powers said, agreeing with Katz. People from New York City involved in the Memorial Foundation will be making regular trips to the small mountain town to check the progress of the name plates. “They’ll all be coming up here.”
Deputy Supervisor Warren Wiegand also praised Powers and Wulfmeyer. “This is an example of a unique business over in our industrial park,” he said. “We’d like to get more of these high-value companies in here.”
KC Fabrications will also be onsite in NYC to install the name plates from April until March of next year. The company has worked for at least four years developing prototypes in hopes of winning the contract.
For more information, head to www.kcfabrications.com or www.national911memorial.org.