Servicing One World Trade Center

Challenges and rewards of overseeing cleaning and maintenance for the country’s tallest building

John Mongello and One World Trade Center

Photo: John Mongello (left) and One WTC’s Oculus, a transit hub connecting 12 subway lines (right). Images courtesy of John Mongello

Coordinating all in-house cleaning and overseeing all contracted services for One World Trade Center (One WTC) in New York City is a different adventure every day and John Mongello wouldn’t have it any other way.

As senior vice president of building services at The Durst Organization, Mongello is not only in charge of building services at One WTC, but also at several other buildings in Midtown Manhattan for a total of 13 million square feet, including the Bank of America Tower and 4 Times Square.

A range of diversity under one roof

“The part of my job I enjoy the most is the diversity of clients in our buildings,” Mongello said. “In One World Trade Center we have tech firms, investment firms, advertising and publishing firms, and Legends, a tourism firm that operates an observatory on the top floors. Each space has different business hours and unique styles from industrial to classic offices. They all require different products, techniques, and equipment to maintain.”

While he likes the variety his job entails, Mongello said the hardest part of his role is working with union protocols. “The New York labor market is very unionized, so navigating the rules and regulations of different labor unions can be a challenge,” he said. 

At times, Mongello said his job feels like human relations position with all the labor union stipulations involved. For instance, employee termination is not a simple process as it requires arbitration. “We must ensure we follow all the union protocols to make our employees happy and to keep our clients safe and happy,” he said. 

However, Mongello believes the challenges are outweighed by the pleasure of acting as a liaison for his company. “We get to take the tenants out, have lunch, dinner, or cocktails with them,” he said. “It’s great engaging with new people to gain new ideas and build a great rapport. Building up this relationship is great for business and leads to more kind service requests from our clients and less screaming complaints.” 

No such thing as a typical day

Mongello stresses that every day on the job is different, especially during a pandemic. He never knows when he walks in the door each morning if there will be a labor shortage due to COVID-19 or contact tracing, or a leak on one of the 94 floors of One WTC. 

“We may have a flood or a snowstorm pop up, or a special tenant request,” Mongello said. “We may have a tenant tell us their executives are coming in from Asia and they need to have all their carpet shampooed, all their vinyl tiles stripped and polished to impress the executives. We never say no to our clients.”

Amidst all the extra work from special requests and the logistics of managing large high rises, Mongello takes pride in working for a company that always puts service before profits. 

“The Durst Organization is an owner/operator and we never put short-term gain above long-term investment. Our protocol and procedures are very strict regarding maintaining our properties.”  

Learn more about One WTC’s strict maintenance standards and its commitment to sustainability in part two of this article on 

Kathleen Misovic

Managing Editor for CMM

Kathleen Misovic is managing editor for CMM. She has a degree in journalism and an extensive background in writing for print and digital media for various publications and associations. Contact her at [email protected].  

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