Local businessman, David E. Puza, of Merritt Construction Svcs, Inc, was invited guest of friend and colleague Santiago Calatrava to attend the opening celebration of Calatrava’s newest high speed train station in Liege, Belgium.
Calatrava and Puza began their friendship in 2008, when work on the new Calatrava-designed World Trade Center transportation hub, part of the rebuilding of Ground Zero, brought them together. Puza tells the story of their meeting with admiration and fervor, explaining that it was first a problem, then the solution that brought them together as friends.
Puza was told to solve a problem related to the ever-important cost, and had to explain to Calatrava that something in his design had to go; it was too costly to construct the early stages of the supports. Of course without that early stage of construction, there was no structure to follow. However, when Calatrava looked over the blue prints, and realized that not only was Puza correct, but as usual the politics of the workplace, especially one so ridden as the WTC site, had come into play. Puza essentially saved Calatrava’s project from complete oblivion. This meeting was to evaluate the constructability and risks associated with the Calatrava design, and with all of Silverstein Properties and the Port Authority ready to scrap the design, and the architect, Puza saved the day.
"I want to express my gratitude for all the support and good ideas you have given for the PATH Terminal [World Trade Center]. The project is going ahead thanks to people like [David]. I am honored to work with someone who has the amount of knowledge and integrity that you have,” Calatrava stated speaking of Puza.
Their affection and friendship is obvious, as they greeted each other during the pres conference and private tour of the station for invited media and VIPs in Liege, Belgium. There is a genuine bond between two men who hope to tie together and unify a city starting from the bedrock up. When entering the station, Puza’s face lights up a thousand Christmas’, and is immediately the most informative person in the room in respect to the artistry of Calatrava’s architecture. To view the station in a guided tour by Calatrava and alongside Puza was a treat, and increased my appreciation for what the station had evolved into from the beginnings as a sketch on Calatrava’s drawing board. Puza boasts of the design, “The train station and high speed rail system are both a magnificent engineering and construction endeavor. The precision and tolerances to which the concrete and steel were constructed were unbelievable. The station was certainly built with a lot of pride from the work force. “ Puza’s enthusiasm for design and construction are inspiring.
Liege has distinct similarities with the WTC site, as this station is the first realization of Calatrava’s use of light and space as materials central to security and safety. In Calatrava’s “illuminated spaces”, he hopes in both locations to build stations that will “gather and protect,” explains Calatrava. Puza is on hand, diligently and quietly, helping Calatrava to achieve this in a city where change isn’t always accepted easily. New York City is a tough crowd, practical and cynical- and that’s just the commuters. So in many ways, Liege was a practice run and with 11 years in the making, practice made perfect. Puza is hopeful for the great city of New York, hoping “That we (the contractors and craftsmen) will deliver a new transportation hub second to none with the same pride and quality that I experienced in Liege. “
David Puza resides happily outside the grind, in Stamford, CT and is originally from Massachusetts. In every project he is called on to oversee, it is his knowledge and expertise which is valued above any others. You can see more on his website, http://www.merrittconstructionservices.net