“You are going to build the trade center,” Guy F. Tozzoli was told on his 40th birthday in 1962 by the head of the Port of New York Authority. Eleven years later, he had.
Guy F. Tozzoli, at the World Trade Center in 1998, directed development of the twin towers and then saw them come down.
Mr. Tozzoli, among the most important figures in the development of the original World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan, died on Saturday in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He was 90.
His death was announced by the World Trade Centers Association, an international group that he helped found and then led for more than four decades.
As director of the World Trade Department of the Port Authority, Mr. Tozzoli not only superintended development of the twin towers, but was also given credit for having brought the architect Minoru Yamasaki to the job, after admiring a pavilion by Mr. Yamasaki at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle; for shepherding the enormously popular Windows on the World restaurant atop the north tower into existence with his friend, the restaurateur Joseph Baum; and for coming up with the idea – while shaving one morning – to use the tremendous volume of rubble from the trade center excavation as landfill for Battery Park City.
“Tozzoli led the team of dreamers, planners, architects and builders who overcame countless obstacles to construct the tallest buildings on earth,” James Glanz and Eric Lipton wrote in The New York Times Magazine of Sept. 8, 2002. “Sometimes it seemed as if Tozzoli, the director of the project for the Port of New York Authority, had personally willed the towers into existence – outfoxing enemies, bullying colleagues, maneuvering around one intractable problem after another.”
Though it was not Mr. Tozzoli who first proposed making the World Trade Center the tallest building in the world, he embraced the idea.
Mr. Yamasaki himself favored a plan to build two 80-story towers, not 110-story behemoths, Mr. Glanz and Mr. Lipton wrote in the 2003 book “City in the Sky: The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center.”
“Yama, I have something to tell you,” they quoted Mr. Tozzoli as telling the architect. “President Kennedy is going to put a man on the moon. You’re going to figure out a way to build me the tallest buildings in the world.”
Patrick J. Foye, the current executive director of what is now known as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said Mr. Tozzoli was “one of the agency’s groundbreaking pioneers.”
Guy Frederick Tozzoli was born on Feb. 12, 1922, in North Bergen, N.J., to Silvio Tozzoli, who owned a construction company, and his wife, Rose. He received a bachelor’s degree in analytic mechanics and a master’s degree in physics from Fordham University. He served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.
Mr. Tozzoli’s first marriage, to Miriam Lane Johnson, ended in divorce. Their children – Susan Tozzoli, Kathleen Bernaldo, Richard, William, Michael and Tom – survive him, as do his wife, Cynthia; his sister, Rita Albert; and two grandchildren.
Mr. Tozzoli joined the Port Authority in 1946. As the manager of marine terminal planning and construction in the 1950s, he supervised the construction of cargo-handling centers in Brooklyn, Port Newark and Elizabeth, N.J. Mr. Foye credited him with having helped build the first container port in New Jersey.
In 1960, Austin J. Tobin, who was then executive director of the authority, lent Mr. Tozzoli to Robert Moses to help develop the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens. The fair had not even opened before Mr. Tozzoli learned of his next horizon while dining with his wife at an Italian restaurant on East 14th Street. Mr. Tobin, at a nearby table, summoned him over. He wanted to know what Mr. Tozzoli thought of the embryonic trade center project, which was then planned as a complex on the East River designed by three prominent New York architects.
“It looks worse than the bus terminal,” Mr. Tozzoli said, according to Mr. Glanz and Mr. Lipton in the book. “It’s for the birds. I just don’t think three architects can do it. It is just impossible.”
On Feb. 12, 1962, Mr. Tobin rewarded Mr. Tozzoli’s candor by telling him: “I’m going to create the largest department the Port Authority has ever had, the World Trade Department. And I’m going to put you in charge of it.”
There were benefits to the job as well as headaches. Mr. Tozzoli liked to say that he, his father and his son Michael were the first diners at Windows on the World as it was preparing to open to the public in 1976. To the disappointment of the chef, however, the elder Tozzoli and the young boy both asked for hamburgers and French fries.
As the towers took form in 1970, Mr. Tozzoli was instrumental in establishing the World Trade Centers Association, which promotes international commerce. In his dual role at the authority and the association, he was caught up in a 1977 scandal over extravagant travel budgets. While not denying that he and his wife had taken many trips to cities around the globe at the authority’s expense, Mr. Tozzoli said, “never have I put a penny in my pocket.”
Mr. Tozzoli remained at the authority until 1987. After retiring, he became the full-time president of the association, with an office on the 77th floor of the north tower.
That was where he was headed on Sept. 11, 2001, hoping to make a 9 a.m. meeting. Instead, as he approached the Holland Tunnel entrance after leaving his home in New Jersey, he saw smoke pouring from a gash in the tower, not far from his own office. “ ‘It’s going to take us a long time to fix that,’ Tozzoli said in his gravelly voice to someone in the clot of people around him,” Mr. Glanz and Mr. Lipton wrote in the book. No one answered. Then the second plane struck.
Source: NY Times