Reconstruction at Ground Zero: Eighteen-storey complex to replace Margalla Towers

The Margalla Towers was the sole building in Islamabad that collapsed during the 2005 earthquake. PHOTO: FILE

The Margalla Towers was the sole building in Islamabad that collapsed during the 2005 earthquake. PHOTO: FILE

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD, 08th OCTOBER 2013: 

A developer hopes to erase the nightmarish memories that the capital’s residents associate with the Margalla Towers by building a new complex at the site.

A private development firm, APCO, which on June 8, 2012 offered the highest bid of Rs1.65 billion for the Margalla Towers’ plot and its partially collapsed structure, is planning to erect an 18-storey multi-purpose tower named Park-One at the site. The firm owns residential projects including Park Avenue in Sector F-11 and Park Lane near Faizabad.  Margalla Towers was the sole building in Islamabad that collapsed during the 2005 earthquake.

APCO Chief Executive Masud Abbasi, while talking to The Express Tribune, said construction would begin by the year’s end upon complete demolition of the leftover structure of the Margalla Towers. The project will be completed by June 2016, Abbasi added.

According to building’s proposed layout plan, which is yet to be approved by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), a mega tower with 18 stories will be constructed over 11,750 square yards.

“A commercial area will be established on the first three floors and will include shopping malls, multi-purpose halls and two cinemas,” Abbasi said, adding that the residential apartments would be constructed on the remaining floors.

The development firm is currently demolishing the collapsed Margalla Towers. “We have removed 700 tons of steel from the collapsed building. It shows how poorly the building was constructed. If you go by approved standards, then there should have been over 2,000 tons of steel for a building of that size,” said Abbasi. We also found that piled raft foundation that is used for such a high-rise residential building is missing at the collapsed structure, he said, adding that those responsible for such poor construction and those who approved the plan should be punished.

APCO Director Marketing Col (retd) Tahir Butt said a foreign construction firm would be hired to prepare the layout plan for the building and for supervising the construction. “The building will be designed to withstand an earthquake up to an 8.5 magnitude on the Richter scale,” Butt said, adding that an independent electric power unit would also be established to light the whole tower during times of electricity blackouts.

Earlier, CDA in March 2013 granted permission to APCO to demolish the leftover structure of Margalla Towers on condition that the contractor take responsibility for any untoward incident during demolition.

The total area that was to be demolished from the basement to the 10th floor of the devastated building was approximately 291,063 square feet. Owing to technicalities, six months were given to the firm for the demolition.

After a long battle in court, the affected owners of Margalla Towers were provided compensation by the authorities on the direction of the Supreme Court.

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