All this controversy about building a mosque or cultural center near the site of the former World Trade Center has made me think about another controversial building that once stood at Ground Zero. But in this case, mold played a pivotal role in this building’s fate. 130 Liberty Street, otherwise known as the Deutsche Bank Building, was once a 42-story skyscraper that stood adjacent to the Twin Towers. But the collapse of the towers during September 11 tore a 24-story gash into the façade of the building. It destroyed much of the interior of the structure, leaving steel and concrete poking out of the building.

Now despite this damage, the frame of the building was in tact and it would have been possible to rebuild. However, that gash that created approximately 1,700 broken windows left a huge part of the building open and exposed. Rain, snow, and other outside elements poured into the building, and brought in high humidity and condensation from outside temperature variation. Additionally, there was standing water in the basement that came from firefighting activities and broken pipes.

Of course, this led to extensive and uncontrolled bacteria and mold growth which spread from the basement throughout the remains of the Deutsche Bank Building.

What followed was an argument with the Bank’s insurance company over what actions should be taken. The mold had gotten out of hand and was no longer approved for human use. The insurers recommended the use of a biocide to treat the mold and the bank agreed. They implemented a program to remove all visibly moldy ceiling tiles and wallboard.

Clearly this effort was unsuccessful because five months after 9-11, it was decided that the building be demolished. This was nearly nine years ago, but if you live in New York, you probably know that 130 Liberty Street still stands. The deconstruction was delayed due to a number of disagreements and incidents, including a fire and a pipe accidentally cut and falling 35 stories. Currently, two floors are being removed each month and is expected to finally be removed by the end of 2011.