RTKL to gauge Pentagon damage

Architects from the Baltimore design company RTKL Associates Inc. will be among the first workers to enter damaged sections of the Pentagon to begin redesigning and rebuilding the nation's military headquarters.

The Department of Defense has awarded RTKL a $1.6 million contract to assess the damage caused by last week's terrorist attack and begin sketching plans to rebuild. The contract is an initial payment for work expected to cost $20.8 million, the department announced yesterday.

RTKL, which has its headquarters on South Street in Baltimore, will help restore the Pentagon as part of a team of companies. Others include structural, mechanical and electrical engineers and building contractors.

Chairman Harold L. Adams said RTKL will need 25 to 35 employees for the project and will begin work as soon as the cleanup at the site is finished, probably within several days.

"We've done this type of work before. We go into buildings that have damage and need complete restoration," Adams said

"But let's hope we don't have to do anything quite like this again."

The first stage of the Pentagon contract calls for an analysis from RTKL "advising on adaptive reuse of the structurally acceptable remaining portions of the building," according to the Department of Defense.

The reconstruction of the Pentagon, damaged when terrorists hijacked an American Airlines jetliner and crashed it into the side of the building, will require the complete redesign of some interior spaces. The RTKL contract specifically mentions the roof, bathrooms, kitchens, conference and computer rooms, windows and doors and access for the handicapped.

Workers and investigators were combing the scene yesterday for remains of some of the 189 people thought to have died in attack. About 200 truckloads of rubble have been removed from the damaged section, and Pentagon officials say some of the victims might never be accounted for.