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(Slate)   A look at the design flaw that almost destroyed an NYC skyscraper. No, not thermite   (slate.com) divider line 116
    More: Scary, New York City, emergency evacuation, Lutheran Church, structural engineers, black outs, 53rd Street, Invisibles  
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16942 clicks; posted to Main » on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:35 PM (27 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-17 04:17:54 PM  

Lord Dimwit: Mikey1969: I figured it was going to be about this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-25_Empire_State_Building_crash

Because a B-25 bomber crashing into your skyscraper is definitely NOT by design...

That's also the one and only time someone an Otis elevator's safety mechanisms failed. I'd say "our elevators can survive everything up to a direct hit by a B-25 bomber" is still a pretty good safety record.


Interesting.. I hadn't heard that one, that IS a pretty good safety record.
 
2014-04-17 04:18:52 PM  

The Bestest: ...also, I'm no architect, but my question would be, if the problem was fixed with some emergency welding, why wasn't it designed with those welds to begin with? Cost?


The original designer didn't consider wind loads from all directions, just what they thought were the principal directions, and missed the most severe wind load case. This was compounded when the contractor changed the welded joints to  weaker bolted joints, which was in turn made worse by the installer farking up and building the connections with an eccentricity that magnified the forces in bolts.
 
2014-04-17 04:20:40 PM  

Eriond: I really hope he died at the plane's impact and didn't have to go through all of that while conscious...


I think you just gave Action Park a new ride idea for their grand re-opening.
 
2014-04-17 04:21:18 PM  
www.slate.com
c453.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com

Your engineering degree should be more than "I'm really good at Simple Physics"
 
2014-04-17 04:21:25 PM  

DrunkWithImpotence: Mikey1969: I figured it was going to be about this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-25_Empire_State_Building_crash

Because a B-25 bomber crashing into your skyscraper is definitely NOT by design...

The Empire State Building was was over-enigneered, there is probably twice as much steel in that thing than absolutely necessary.  In a gale force wind I think the top floors sway only an inch or so, if that.  It is not however, resistant to giant ape attacks.


Bob Newhart--King Kong

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7Oh1SI9lbs&feature=kp
 
2014-04-17 04:21:27 PM  
I tried using bolts for joints once.


They don't stay lit.
 
2014-04-17 04:22:08 PM  

lindalouwho: I had to stare at it for a minute to figure it out. I have never read NYC without saying New York City in my head.

I would think City is added to differentiate from the state of New York to avoid any potential confusion.



Growing up in NY we always referred to New York City as "The City".
 
2014-04-17 04:23:31 PM  
They welded throughout the night and quit at daybreak, just as the building occupants returned to work.

I remember my high school physics teacher discussing this in class, and showing the class a clip from a TV science program about it.  IIRC the above sentence hides another story. The welding wasn't just a design flaw -- the firm hired to actually build the building cut some corners and bolted the "chevron bracing structure" together, when the design had actually called for welding.  Maybe they discovered that flaw when they were reviewing the potential damage, I don't remember that part.

In retrospect, considering all the farkups surrounding that building, it's a miracle that it hasn't fallen over and killed a bunch of people yet.
 
2014-04-17 04:26:53 PM  
2.bp.blogspot.com
And yet this thing is still standing.
 
2014-04-17 04:27:03 PM  

Arkanaut: it's a miracle that it hasn't fallen over and killed a bunch of people yet.


yeah, but when it does it won't be called terrorism.
 
2014-04-17 04:30:56 PM  

DrunkWithImpotence: Mikey1969: I figured it was going to be about this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-25_Empire_State_Building_crash

Because a B-25 bomber crashing into your skyscraper is definitely NOT by design...

The Empire State Building was was over-enigneered, there is probably twice as much steel in that thing than absolutely necessary.  In a gale force wind I think the top floors sway only an inch or so, if that.  It is not however, resistant to giant ape attacks.


Wait, I thought the ESB survived King Kong?

Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.
 
2014-04-17 04:32:04 PM  

Arkanaut: archbishop: Personall, I hate the way NYC sounds and looks and try to avoid using it.

Yeah, especially in Wingdings.


Sounds like something an antithermite would say.
 
2014-04-17 04:32:51 PM  
In what weird world does Subby live where thermite was part of the design of the WTC? It was clearly added afterwards, when the security went home that night before, by the guys who left the multiple unmarked black vans in the basement parking which were never traced to owners!

It's so obvious its painful, but you sheeple will never wake up anyway. Back to Honey BooBoo I guess!
 
2014-04-17 04:37:01 PM  

The Bestest: keypusher: I worked in that building.  I think most people who do absolutely hate it.  Creaks like crazy in the wind, and it's just ugly, like lots of things from the 1970s.

http://failures.wikispaces.com/Citicorp+Center

What strikes me is that the iconic slanted roof was meant for solar panels, but apparently the building faced the wrong way? That seems like a pretty big oversight, no?


Mostly?  It depends on who you ask, if I remember right.  Like it's supposed to face due south, but the actual angle of the island is 29 degrees off of north-south due to the Hudson's angle.  And some people say panels are not supposed to angle due south or something.  Can't find the article about it, but I remember it being on Fark at one point.

So short version is, yes, but not quite as badly as it sounds on the surface.

\ugly, but it's definitely identifiable, which is an architectural goal
 
2014-04-17 04:38:10 PM  

DrunkWithImpotence: The Empire State Building was was over-enigneered, there is probably twice as much steel in that thing than absolutely necessary. In a gale force wind I think the top floors sway only an inch or so, if that. It is not however, resistant to giant ape attacks.


The building did just fine. The ape, not so much.
 
2014-04-17 04:42:33 PM  
Subby, please don't wake up the Alex Jonesians. Let's just let sleeping retards lie.
 
2014-04-17 04:45:36 PM  

RevMark: Subby, please don't wake up the Alex Jonesians. Let's just let sleeping retards lie.


I think they're still pre-occupied with the Bundy Ranch
 
2014-04-17 04:46:14 PM  

lindalouwho: You dolt


Fancy a game of questions?
 
2014-04-17 04:46:56 PM  

Arkanaut: Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.


All the structural steel in the ESB is encased in masonry to fireproof the steel.   The steel in the original WTC used sprayed on fireproof coating.
 
2014-04-17 04:47:56 PM  
I like rivets and welds.  You can have a bad weld in the right place.  Rivets are a known quantity.
 
2014-04-17 04:52:36 PM  

Mr. Eugenides: So Slate writers are plagiarizing off of old episodes of Nova now?


Thank you. I new I'd seen this old news somewhere before, I just couldn't remember where.
 
2014-04-17 04:53:23 PM  
Design flaw, or false flag?
 
2014-04-17 05:01:09 PM  

Fissile: Arkanaut: Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.

All the structural steel in the ESB is encased in masonry to fireproof the steel.   The steel in the original WTC used sprayed on fireproof coating.


I can't remember which of the floors it was in the 30's but they used an asbestos fireproofing in a sticky tar-like setting.  When the ban on asbestos came down they were forced to go to the spray on applied fireproofing.  It's great stuff as long as it's not disturbed.  But when you have a large explosion it's gone.  Now you have exposed steel with no fireproofing.  That allowed for the steel to become heated, soften and the single hardened bolt on the end of each floor joist to tear through.  One joist failed, the adjacent joists were not capable of holding the additional load in their heat weakened state.  The floor failed rapidly and fell straight down.  The impact load caused the floor underneath to fail and so forth.

Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.
 
2014-04-17 05:02:04 PM  

SenorPez: Wasn't this featured on an episode of Law and Order or something, where the architect killed the student who figured out the building was going to fall over if the wind shifted?


I wish this story could be featured as you stated above, only change that to tomorrow's news, and switch out the student for the writer, and the murderer to anybody....I almost fell asleep....nobody make's me fall to my own sleeps...
 
2014-04-17 05:04:17 PM  

The Bestest: keypusher: I worked in that building.  I think most people who do absolutely hate it.  Creaks like crazy in the wind, and it's just ugly, like lots of things from the 1970s.

http://failures.wikispaces.com/Citicorp+Center

What strikes me is that the iconic slanted roof was meant for solar panels, but apparently the building faced the wrong way? That seems like a pretty big oversight, no?


Yes.
 
2014-04-17 05:06:36 PM  

Arkanaut: neversubmit: Subby misspelt Termite and wouldn't it be more than one?

No, I believe subby is telling us to study it out

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Trade_Center_controlled_demolitio n_ conspiracy_theories


Walking near the WTC (I work down the street), I heard some people discussing Sept 11. One of them said his uncle or his grandfather or whoeveritwas worked on the construction of the towers and they were built by mob-family-owned construction companies. And that they used less steel than the construction specs called for in order to save money.

I find it kind of hard to believe (really does sound like an urban legend) but a quick google just turned this up: "According to the indictment papers, an alleged mobster named Ralph Scopo, Jr., took a reform-minded Ground Zero foreman for a "meeting" with the Colombo crime family in 2007 to warn him not to defy the mob. Scopo's son still runs the local branch of the concrete union, but has not been accused of any wrongdoing."

Just curious if anyone's ever looked into this....
 
2014-04-17 05:07:39 PM  

wichitaleaf: The Bestest: keypusher: I worked in that building.  I think most people who do absolutely hate it.  Creaks like crazy in the wind, and it's just ugly, like lots of things from the 1970s.

http://failures.wikispaces.com/Citicorp+Center

What strikes me is that the iconic slanted roof was meant for solar panels, but apparently the building faced the wrong way? That seems like a pretty big oversight, no?

Yes.


Odds are somebody had a bright idea, told the drafters to draw it and then couldn't be bothered to take the time to do the most basic of solar studies.

/I know nothing about project managers that cannot be bothered by little things like that
//nope, not me
///it never happens
////where is that bastard anyway?
 
2014-04-17 05:07:47 PM  

Smeggy Smurf: Fissile: Arkanaut: Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.

All the structural steel in the ESB is encased in masonry to fireproof the steel.   The steel in the original WTC used sprayed on fireproof coating.

I can't remember which of the floors it was in the 30's but they used an asbestos fireproofing in a sticky tar-like setting.  When the ban on asbestos came down they were forced to go to the spray on applied fireproofing.  It's great stuff as long as it's not disturbed.  But when you have a large explosion it's gone.  Now you have exposed steel with no fireproofing.  That allowed for the steel to become heated, soften and the single hardened bolt on the end of each floor joist to tear through.  One joist failed, the adjacent joists were not capable of holding the additional load in their heat weakened state.  The floor failed rapidly and fell straight down.  The impact load caused the floor underneath to fail and so forth.

Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.


Um, I wasn't implying anything about controlled demo.  I was pointing out that the fireproofing used in the WTC was not capable of withstanding any kind of impact or explosion, it was fragile, light-weight stuff.   So yeah, when the planes hit, the impact and explosion literally pealed away the fireproof coating on the steel.
 
2014-04-17 05:08:41 PM  
Old news. In fact this was referenced in an episode of Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place. Pete designs a skyscraper on stilts and Ashley blows his model over.  .
 
2014-04-17 05:10:57 PM  
That was the worst summary of the actual story that I have ever read. As mentioned above (and in the original news story that this idiot paraphrased), the design called for welding. Had the chevron supports been welded there wouldn't have been a farking problem. But no, people decided to bold the supports because the building code allowed it and it was cheaper. Only problem was they never asked the engineer why he called for welds. It was pure luck he found out before the thing blew over because that would have been one shiatstorm of a lawsuit otherwise.

Jesus, Slate. Read the 20-year-old article you're paraphrasing. Then use your brain. fark.
 
2014-04-17 05:14:02 PM  

Fissile: Smeggy Smurf: Fissile: Arkanaut: Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.

All the structural steel in the ESB is encased in masonry to fireproof the steel.   The steel in the original WTC used sprayed on fireproof coating.

I can't remember which of the floors it was in the 30's but they used an asbestos fireproofing in a sticky tar-like setting.  When the ban on asbestos came down they were forced to go to the spray on applied fireproofing.  It's great stuff as long as it's not disturbed.  But when you have a large explosion it's gone.  Now you have exposed steel with no fireproofing.  That allowed for the steel to become heated, soften and the single hardened bolt on the end of each floor joist to tear through.  One joist failed, the adjacent joists were not capable of holding the additional load in their heat weakened state.  The floor failed rapidly and fell straight down.  The impact load caused the floor underneath to fail and so forth.

Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.

Um, I wasn't implying anything about controlled demo.  I was pointing out that the fireproofing used in the WTC was not capable of withstanding any kind of impact or explosion, it was fragile, light-weight stuff.   So yeah, when the planes hit, the impact and explosion literally pealed away the fireproof coating on the steel.


Sorry if it looked like I was implying you in particular.  I tend to go off on on rambling tangents when it comes to architecture.
 
2014-04-17 05:17:58 PM  
Still, I'm surprised some truther doesn't point at the "secret repairs" and say, "See!  They could do the demo setup in secret!"
 
2014-04-17 05:24:13 PM  

MythDragon: [www.slate.com image 590x509]
[c453.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com image 320x213]

Your engineering degree should be more than "I'm really good at Simple Physics"


What game is that from?
 
2014-04-17 05:24:15 PM  
The Bestest:

My understanding of the situation is this: it was designed to withstand a 55-year storm, but turns out someone forgot to carry the 2 and was only rated as a 16 year storm, so some emergency welding later and viola, it can now withstand a 700 year storm.

Not exactly.  In the video, the original original calculation based on the wind tunnel tests indicated that the bolted chevron section connections would not withstand hurricane force winds, which were predicted to occur once every fifty-five years.  However, when they considered the fact that the tuned mass dampener would be rendered useless during a power outage, they adjusted the probability of a storm capable of knocking out power to the TMD and having enough wind force to topple the building without the TMD to once every sixteen years.
 
2014-04-17 05:27:08 PM  

daisygrrl: That was the worst summary of the actual story that I have ever read. As mentioned above (and in the original news story that this idiot paraphrased), the design called for welding. Had the chevron supports been welded there wouldn't have been a farking problem. But no, people decided to bold the supports because the building code allowed it and it was cheaper. Only problem was they never asked the engineer why he called for welds. It was pure luck he found out before the thing blew over because that would have been one shiatstorm of a lawsuit otherwise.

Jesus, Slate. Read the 20-year-old article you're paraphrasing. Then use your brain. fark.


I thought the same thing. The Slate story indicates the student as the hero. Reading a bit further into it, it sounds like the student called and said, "My professor said all skyscrapers should have the columns at the corners." The engineer explained his design, but then after he hung up, went to further study the quartering winds on his own, which is when he discovered the bust in the design.

Hurts my brain to imagine the pucker factor experienced by the engineer when he figured out his building might fall down.
 
2014-04-17 05:31:27 PM  

Smeggy Smurf: Fissile: I tend to go off on on rambling tangents when it comes to architecture.


Do you wander around, tilting at windmills?
 
2014-04-17 05:42:16 PM  

peterquince: Walking near the WTC (I work down the street), I heard some people discussing Sept 11. One of them said his uncle or his grandfather or whoeveritwas worked on the construction of the towers and they were built by mob-family-owned construction companies. And that they used less steel than the construction specs called for in order to save money.


During the 1980s and 1990s, at least among construction workers, it was nothing but rumors about how poorly constructed and way below code the WTC was. After 9/11, it is almost impossible to recall decades of rumors and all those conversations without looking like a conspiracy nut.

But I grew up with construction workers talking about how terrible the WTC corner-cutting and mob deals were. The conversations were always in the context of how every construction site is a crooked scam, because the WTC was only special because it was so high profile. The tone of these conversations (by people who worked on them and who did not work them) was basically, "There is no getting around it, construction is a crooked business everywhere, no matter how much it looks like there is oversight." So you know...the rumors are nothing to take seriously. If they were, the US government would have declared war on those mob families as well as on Al Qaeda, for causing so much damage to New York with their willful negligence - all those poisonous construction materials, a building not built to specifications catching fire, falling down, etc, etc. Heck, average US citizens would have gone Frank Castle on mob businesses the like restaurants, the same way they went vigilante against mosques and became racist against Middle eastern people. Long story short, the mob families would have been partially responsible for 9/11, and none have been held accountable, either by the government or by rednecks throwing stuff at their businesses, so therefore the rumors must be false.
 
2014-04-17 05:46:40 PM  

archbishop: cwheelie: "an NYC"?

Yes, an enn-why-cee.  Personall, I hate the way NYC sounds and looks and try to avoid using it.  Never mind that the city's name is "New York" and not "New York City"


If it's good enough for New York City, it's good enough for me. http://www1.nyc.gov/
 
2014-04-17 05:55:26 PM  

WelldeadLink: Smeggy Smurf: Fissile: I tend to go off on on rambling tangents when it comes to architecture.

Do you wander around, tilting at windmills?


Nope, I fight gazebos
 
2014-04-17 05:56:24 PM  

lvdata2: MythDragon: [www.slate.com image 590x509]
[c453.r53.cf1.rackcdn.com image 320x213]

Your engineering degree should be more than "I'm really good at Simple Physics"

What game is that from?


Uh...Simple Physics. On Droid. I assume iOS.
 
2014-04-17 06:10:55 PM  
Very old news if you were a New Yorker reader.

*But I thought they knew who the graduate student at MIT was.
 
2014-04-17 06:20:14 PM  

OKSteveOK: Hurts my brain to imagine the pucker factor experienced by the engineer when he figured out his building might fall down.


Worse, it might have fallen over.

farm6.static.flickr.com

Consider how many other buildings it would have dominoed over. It was considered possible the building failing laterally could have started a building cascade extending to Central Park.
 
2014-04-17 06:22:37 PM  
How did anyone keep a straight face operating with a huge construction project where the most conspicuous aspect of the design was LITERALLY cutting corners? How many people had images of the Titanic flash through their minds and didn't say anything? I imagine a lot of people chuckling and saying "I hope they know what they're doing".

And all these years later, guys like Frank Gehry still get payed megabucks to design buildings that are amazing as long as nobody stops to ask how well the design actually supports the intended function of the building.
 
2014-04-17 06:26:48 PM  
"LeMessurier calculated that a storm powerful enough to take out the building his New York every 16 years. In other words, for every year Citicorp Center was standing, there was about a 1-in-16 chance that it would collapse. "


No, that's not how math works!
 
2014-04-17 06:49:36 PM  

Target Builder: Jesus Christ Slate, this story is almost 20 farking years old.

The story remained a secret until writer Joe Morgenstern overheard it being told at a party, and interviewed LeMessurier. Morgenstern broke the story in The New Yorker in 1995.

You even mention it's ancient news in your own damn article

Man, apparently I could make a living paraphrasing well known and widely researched civil and structural engineering farkups.

Piza, Golden Gate Bridge, WTC Fire Protection...


Citation needed.

(Thinking of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, perhaps?)
 
2014-04-17 07:02:12 PM  

The Bestest: RevMark: Subby, please don't wake up the Alex Jonesians. Let's just let sleeping retards lie.

I think they're still pre-occupied with the Bundy Ranch


The Randy Bunch?!?
 
2014-04-17 07:11:06 PM  
Smeggy Smurf:
Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.

Counterpoint, I have visual proof that a jet fuel fire cannot damage a concrete/steel structure:

img.fark.net
 
2014-04-17 07:43:29 PM  

The Bestest: ...also, I'm no architect, but my question would be, if the problem was fixed with some emergency welding, why wasn't it designed with those welds to begin with? Cost?


I think I saw a History channel thing on this. The building was designed with welds but the construction company wanted to use bolts. If I recall correctly they asked the architecture team if bolts would suffice, got approval, and moved ahead with the bolts.
 
2014-04-17 07:43:34 PM  

dsmith42: Smeggy Smurf:
Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.

Counterpoint, I have visual proof that a jet fuel fire cannot damage a concrete/steel structure:

[img.fark.net image 640x480]


The scary thing is there are people who actually believe that "evidence" proves fire can't weaken metal. How do they think blacksmiths make horseshoes and swords?
 
2014-04-17 07:55:20 PM  

Fissile: Smeggy Smurf: Fissile: Arkanaut: Also, it has a lot of concrete, that's gotta help with absorbing big hits.

All the structural steel in the ESB is encased in masonry to fireproof the steel.   The steel in the original WTC used sprayed on fireproof coating.

I can't remember which of the floors it was in the 30's but they used an asbestos fireproofing in a sticky tar-like setting.  When the ban on asbestos came down they were forced to go to the spray on applied fireproofing.  It's great stuff as long as it's not disturbed.  But when you have a large explosion it's gone.  Now you have exposed steel with no fireproofing.  That allowed for the steel to become heated, soften and the single hardened bolt on the end of each floor joist to tear through.  One joist failed, the adjacent joists were not capable of holding the additional load in their heat weakened state.  The floor failed rapidly and fell straight down.  The impact load caused the floor underneath to fail and so forth.

Only an idiot would believe in controlled demolition.

Um, I wasn't implying anything about controlled demo.  I was pointing out that the fireproofing used in the WTC was not capable of withstanding any kind of impact or explosion, it was fragile, light-weight stuff.   So yeah, when the planes hit, the impact and explosion literally pealed away the fireproof coating on the steel.


The Port Authority was and is exempt from city building and fire codes so they only did what they felt like to meet the local codes when building the WTC. They claim to be meeting code on new projects.
 
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