2005 Safety, Security and International Affairs

Dave Gabel

Led the reconstruction of the 400,000 square feet of the Pentagon that was damaged on 9/11, getting the job done ahead of schedule and under budget.

For more than a year, Dave Gabel and his construction crews had been working to renovate Wedge One of the Pentagon. They were only five days away from completing the project when American Airlines flight 77 flew into the building.Less than a year after that fateful day, the stain left by the terrorists had been wiped clean, and the “point-of-impact” offices at the Pentagon had been completely rebuilt. Our country is indebted to Dave Gabel and his Phoenix Project team for making it happen.

Immediately following September 11th, the Pentagon Renovation and Construction Program Office promised to have the damaged offices rebuilt and fully operational in time for the one-year commemoration of the terrorist attack. The ultimate speed of this project exceeded even the most optimistic estimates. The demolition, originally projected to be a six-month undertaking, was completed in just 32 days. The first building tenants returned to their offices on August 15, 2002, 28 days ahead of the original goal. By September 11, 2002, the entire outer ring of the Pentagon was 100 percent occupied. In addition to finishing their work early, the cost of the project was $200 million less than the original estimate.

The impact of the Phoenix Project’s success was not only symbolic but practical. The September 11 attacks thrust the United States into an elevated state of military readiness. As American fighting forces were being deployed, restoring the Department of Defense headquarters to full operations was paramount.

Dave Gabel’s team worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a year-long effort to return office space and resources to the civilians and soldiers who provide planning, support and communication to our armed forces. At the height of construction activity, more than 1,000 workers were on site each day. And Gabel was always there at 4:30 a.m. to coordinate each day’s work.

Aside from the practical implications of rebuilding the Pentagon, the swift resurrection of this building partially leveled by terrorism also served as a morale booster. Many citizens drew inspiration from the media coverage given to the workers, architects and project managers working around the clock to restore this symbol of American might. The effort was viewed by Americans as an act of defiance to those responsible for a crime against our nation.

The Phoenix Project was also instrumental in restoring a sense of normalcy to the Pentagon employees who survived the terrorist attack and provided closure for more than 600 workers who returned to their once demolished office spaces. The completion of the project was also part of the healing process for those who lost co-workers and loved ones on 9/11. On September 11, 2002, ceremonies were held at the Phoenix Project site to remember the lives lost in the Pentagon attack and honor the men and women of the Armed Services. This newly built section of the Pentagon, reduced to rubble exactly one year before, served as the perfect backdrop for the celebration.

There can be no denying that the reconstruction of the Pentagon is not only a model of how these types of projects should be done but also a source of inspiration.