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(Slate)   A look at the design flaw that almost destroyed an NYC skyscraper. No, not thermite   (slate.com) divider line 26
    More: Scary, New York City, emergency evacuation, Lutheran Church, structural engineers, black outs, 53rd Street, Invisibles  
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16933 clicks; posted to Main » on 17 Apr 2014 at 3:35 PM (22 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-04-17 03:47:21 PM
4 votes:
The student (who has since been lost to history)

one of its viewers was Diane Hartley. It turns out that she was the student in LeMessurier's story.


Um?
2014-04-17 09:44:14 PM
2 votes:

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.


One of my professors was involved in the WTC investigation, and he thinks that the mob paid off the inspectors to turn a blind eye to skimpy fireproofing.  He didn't find any evidence of less steel being used.

It wouldn't have mattered.  The problem was the design - not that it was flawed, but it was vulnerable to being flown into by a plane full of fuel.  Most tall buildings have heavy columns every 30' or so; they would tear a plane's wings off.  Most buildings have interior columns too, and normal beams holding up the floors.  If a beam fails, you only lose perhaps a 10'x30' area of floor.

The Twin Towers were designed by a guy scared of heights, so he came up with a design that had HSS (box) columns every 4' or so around the perimeter.  With so many columns, they could each be thin, like 3/16" or 1/4" thick in the upper stories.  An airliner's wing can apparently penetrate that and deliver its payload inside.  Also, there were no interior columns between the core and the perimeter tube columns.  Architects love that because it means wide open spaces.  But it means you have to replace the beams with long trusses, and like most trusses, these were statically determinate.  Lose one member and the whole thing fails.  In the heat of a fire steel doesn't melt, but it loses a percentage of its strength - probably around 50% in this case.  That was enough to cause a floor failure, and the falling floor caused the next one to fail, etc.  I don't remember all the details, like what happened to the core, but the point is that this kind of fire was more harmful to these particular buildings than to most others.  Al Qaeda had engineers among them.
2014-04-17 05:10:57 PM
2 votes:
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 04:07:13 PM
2 votes:

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?


If only they had discussed that on the article...
2014-04-17 04:04:25 PM
2 votes:

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.
2014-04-17 04:01:51 PM
2 votes:
Well, my Father in Law knew this as it was happening. The story he told me was that the issue was that there were bolts where welds needed to be, and that is why they welded. The story left out that the City of NY knew about it, and they didn't have an evacuation plan, they had a recovery plan.
2014-04-17 06:20:14 PM
1 votes:

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 05:27:08 PM
1 votes:

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 04:47:56 PM
1 votes:
I like rivets and welds.  You can have a bad weld in the right place.  Rivets are a known quantity.
2014-04-17 04:38:10 PM
1 votes:

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 04:26:53 PM
1 votes:
2.bp.blogspot.com
And yet this thing is still standing.
2014-04-17 04:16:15 PM
1 votes:
Ugh I am so conditioned by the media in the Great Recession that all I got from this story is that when bankers fail, they can divert 2500 people's volunteer hours from the important duties at the Red Cross for months, effectively getting tens of millions of dollars in support for free from the general public, not counting the opportunity cost the public lost by donating all those hours. Ugh, imagine trying to explain to a space alien why a bank's complete disastrous failure is rewarded by the government and ordinary folks with the authority to command 2500 people to work for free.
2014-04-17 04:11:09 PM
1 votes:
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...
2014-04-17 04:10:26 PM
1 votes:

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 engineer states in the videos that it *was* designed with welds.  But for some reason it was built with bolts holding those joints instead.
2014-04-17 04:03:37 PM
1 votes:

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"


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.
2014-04-17 04:02:50 PM
1 votes:
Yeah, I ruled out thermite when you said "almost" subby.


/pass the tinfoil.
2014-04-17 03:59:08 PM
1 votes:

lostcat: I was expecting the article to talk about current day. Has the building's structure been altered in any way? Is just standing as is? Do people work there, and realize that it could collapse in strong wind?

Am I expecting too much from my journalists?


Do I have any reading comprehension?
2014-04-17 03:51:01 PM
1 votes:

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?
2014-04-17 03:47:17 PM
1 votes:

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.
2014-04-17 03:46:50 PM
1 votes:
A little light reading to kill some time in your 53rd floor office.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_structural_failures_and_collaps es
2014-04-17 03:45:20 PM
1 votes:

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"
2014-04-17 03:43:16 PM
1 votes:

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...


Not with that attitude.
2014-04-17 03:42:25 PM
1 votes:
I had heard about this before, but I didn't know the anonymous student had come forward.
2014-04-17 03:41:39 PM
1 votes:
So Slate writers are plagiarizing off of old episodes of Nova now?
2014-04-17 03:40:01 PM
1 votes:
"an NYC"?
2014-04-17 03:37:34 PM
1 votes:
Subby misspelt Termite and wouldn't it be more than one?
 
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