Lessons From Ground Zero

The remaining structures in the vicinity of Ground Zero are turning out to be an "engineering clinic of sorts," potentially providing valuable information to engineers and architects about ways to improve the design of skyscrapers, reports the New York Times.

12/12/2001


The remaining structures in the vicinity of Ground Zero are turning out to be an "engineering clinic of sorts," potentially providing valuable information to engineers and architects about ways to improve the design of skyscrapers, reports the New York Times .

Engineers have already begun deciphering why some buildings survived the fires and wreckage caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, while others didn't. For example, the high-rise at 90 West Street, built in 1907, was left standing after two days of raging fires, perhaps a result of the building's vintage steel structure and fire-proofing materials that were more common in the earlier part of the century.

Other buildings that sustained considerable damage, yet remained standing, include the American Express Tower that lost a structural column holding up three floors; the Bankers Trust Building that had an 11-story major steel column knocked out; as well as the Verizon Building and a City University of New York building which had debris from 7 World Trade Center shear off parts of their structures.

Even though it appears that older buildings withstood the disaster better than newer ones, it's difficult to know for certain because the amount of stress caused by the collapse of the World Trade Center varied from building to building. However, as engineers begin to learn more about how certain design elements helped some buildings survive, this may affect how structures are designed in the future.

"I think we will start seeing some of that coming into our codes, or at a minimum, engineering practice," commented Richard Tomasetti, P.E., president of LZA/Thornton-Tomasetti, New York, as quoted in the Times . Tomasetti's firm has been active in helping the city evaluate the structural soundness of buildings near Ground Zero.





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