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World Trade Center Architecture
Ground Floor Photo ^ | John Jamieson

Posted on 10/13/2001 9:21:55 PM PDT by John Jamieson

I don't believe I've ever seen a discussion of the architecture of the World Trade Center. From a distance, the WTC looks like two simple towers, but up close, at street level, I think it looked kind of Islamic. I was struct by how much even the ruins of the facade looked like scenes of recent architecural elements shown on TV, in Pakistan. bin Laden hates us for many reasons, but did he have extra hate for this building? See link for photo.

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Comment #51 Removed by Moderator

Comment #52 Removed by Moderator

To: John Jamieson
If you want to read magazine articles about the WTC from what is the foremost architecture magazine in the United States read this.

Architectural Record

53 posted on 10/15/2001 7:17:34 AM PDT by finnman69
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Comment #54 Removed by Moderator

To: laconas; ItCanHappenToYou
Thank you both for the interesting discussion. There is much food for thought.
55 posted on 10/15/2001 8:12:03 AM PDT by ELS
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To: solon_where_r_u
The pointed arch is a Gothic, and therefore Western, motif. I'm an architect by the way.

Yep, those entrance-way arches are Gothic.

56 posted on 10/15/2001 8:14:12 AM PDT by Fred25
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To: Nick Danger
Didn't any structural engineers ever foresee the possible problems and risks that these structures presented?

The WTC towers were very controlversial. They used a new structural method in which the floors were suspended only at the periphery and at the elevator core. There were two alarms given even before the buildings were completed.

First, there were published articles in engineering journals saying that failure of the trusses of a single floor or of the connections of a floor to its supports would cause pancaking of all floors below it in a process that would bring down the entire building. This is almost certainly what happened as seen from the videos of the buildings' collapse.

Second, the use of asbestos to cover the steel and protect it from the heat of a fire was stopped (by environmental regulations) when the buildings reached 70 stories high. The man doing the asbestos installation, named Levine, correctly and precisely predicted that a major fire above the 70th floor in either building would bring down the entire building secondary to weakening of the relatively light steel trusses carrying the floor spans between their connections at the periphery and the core. Collapse of a floor would collapse the entire structure due to the pancaking described above.

57 posted on 10/15/2001 8:28:06 AM PDT by Magician
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To: shadeaud
On Wednesday evening the A & E channel will have a special on the twin towers. I assume it will show from it's conception to it completion. It should be interesting

I think that the special about the construction and engineering design is on the History Channel as follows:

The World Trade Center Wednesday, October 17 10:00 PM-11:00 PM Eastern time, repeated at 2:00 AM (11PM Pacific time)

A historical look at the technological engineering of the World Trade Center.

58 posted on 10/15/2001 1:25:49 PM PDT by BillF
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To: supercat
I doubt that any 300+-foot-tall structure built in the last 1000 years could do any better.

With no disrespect to the WTC, I believe a pyramid shape would have done better -- is in the San Francisco skyscraper. Less weight from above, possibly a less catastrophic failure.

59 posted on 10/15/2001 1:38:41 PM PDT by js1138
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To: Nick Danger
The architect and the structural engineers deserve a round of applause, not approbation.

Main Entry: ap·pro·ba·tion
Pronunciation: "a-pr&-'bA-sh&n
Function: noun
Date: 14th century
a: an act of approving formally or officially

60 posted on 10/15/2001 1:49:18 PM PDT by Norb2569
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To: laconas
I think we are saying the same thing, but it will have to be explained/sold by using terms each can relate to.

I think we undderstood each other very well.

I like the Jungian/Feminine vs.the Fruedian/Masculine analogy. But that must be because I see the world this way. McDonald's to me is the Big Mac, Burger King is the Whopper, but Wendy's is always hot and juicy.

LOL, nice thought to start the day. I'll take a Whopper, please, and hold the onions. ;

It occurs to me that if you and I are old enough to be speaking with one another this way, we probably have been irredeemably tainted with the 20th C monu"mentality." The discussion of Freud and Jung makes that pretty clear, imo. Perhaps neither of us can adequately grasp the monumentality of the 21st, although it may be painfully obvious to our children and grandchildren.

BTW There's a weird sculpture in the middle of Harvard Sq. called oomphalos. It's suppose represent the center of the universe, so I heard. I just hope the Mother Earth stuff doesn't go too far. Everything will be lit and decorated with candles...

Is the sculpture an innie or an outie? ;-D I haven't seen it. Agree about the Mother Earth, Spaceship Earth wavy gravy stuff. It doesn't build lasting structures, does it? BTW, I like candles, but ONLY with my Whopper. ;-D

61 posted on 10/15/2001 2:52:07 PM PDT by ItCanHappenToYou
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To: John Jamieson
Huh, the arches on the WTC are not structural, but decorative. Main structure is 18" square tubes on 40" centers, with 22" wide windows.

I don't know why you say they're only decorative. They sure look structural to me. Only 1/3 of the upper vertical columns have a support column directly beneath them. The arches serve to support the other 2/3 of the upper vertical columns. While the exact shape of the arches may have been motivated by decorative concerns, either those arches were structural or there was a lot of wasted material in that building.

BTW, looking at the structure I would guess that there must have been a horizontal connection closing the top of each arch. Even though such connection isn't readily visible, does anyone know what form it would have taken?

62 posted on 10/15/2001 5:08:31 PM PDT by supercat
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To: John Jamieson
See a good documentary on the WTCs Wednesday on the History Channel, 8:00PM Central.
63 posted on 10/15/2001 5:13:48 PM PDT by HoustonKevin
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To: js1138
I doubt that any 300+-foot-tall structure built in the last 1000 years could do any better.

With no disrespect to the WTC, I believe a pyramid shape would have done better -- is in the San Francisco skyscraper. Less weight from above, possibly a less catastrophic failure.

Well, the only 300+ foot tall structures I would expect to survive a crash from a fully-fueled 767 have a pyramid shape, but they weren't built in the last 1000 years.

Otherwise, I'm not familiar with the structure you're talking about, but if its support structure is like most tall buildings it would have been severely damaged by the initial impact; the "tube building" design is from what I understand not widely used except for the Sears Tower and WTC, and it was that structure that allowed effective load redistribution when many of the exterior columns were knocked out.

BTW, one thing I've wondered about is what would be the effects of designing a building with load-bearing interior walls, but different plans on alternating floors? The walls would have to be built internally as trusses, but given their generous height-to-length ratio this should not pose a problem. It would seem that such a design might be able to redistribute loads though the internal structure in case part of it failed.

64 posted on 10/15/2001 5:24:31 PM PDT by supercat
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To: laconas
I don't have a moral judgment on 20th century architecture, it is what it is. Mies Van de Rohe has had more influence in this century than any other, and I like what he did.

To be really honest with you, I don't know enough about the history of 20th C architecture to have an opinion. The most I feel comfortable saying is that the major figures seem to have been influenced by Cubism.

The bright Greco/Roman Era transformed itself into the dark Byzantine Empire. We might be in the same historical parallel at his time in the picture. If that is the case, there are a few 20th century examples that might show us what's to come.

Right now, it does seem likely that history will call these times a watershed moment. The turn of the century, the turn towards a more realistic view of life. Perhaps architecture will reflect this awareness with structures that reflect a new soberness and connection with our own sense of mortality - something we seem to have forgotten in the last decades of the last century. IMO, as always.

A few years ago I was in Mohegan Sun Casino, in Connecticut. After I lost all my money and I borrowed a few bucks from my friend to buy a drink, while I waited for him to lose his money. Anyway, I got talking to a guy at the bar who told me the whole underground complex was a former assembly plant for nuclear warheads. ( Short distance from General Dynamics Electric Boat) But, since the military downsize of the post Cold War era, the Mohegan Indians managed to buy the plant and turn into a casino in the 90's. Sure makes one wonder how many leftover obsolete secret underground plants and silos exist in America? I watched all through the 80' everyone transform former 19th century manufacturing plants into office space, and this future transformation, of these secret spaces, does not appear far fetched. What other type of architecture would be more secure and insure record safety for commerce?

The last casino I was in was a gigantic pyramid. More stable, may have withstood the blast better. But to address your question, seems to me there are multiple factors that could improve safety. Spatial configuration is one, choice of building materials is one, height above the earth, protection surrounding the structure come to mind. This is assuming a traditional approach to structure. Perhaps we need to reconsider our idea of structure. To borrow a thought from the enemy, perhaps decentralized structures connected by contemporary communication equipment would protect us better. Instead of concentrating people and resources in one location, scattered locations with less obvious, harder to locate and hit, easier to evacuate buildings. Buildings could be located out in the mountains - build a building that looks like a mountain! or the desert. They could be designed to appear to be part of the surrounding terrain, whatever it is. A building that is an island. A building that is a mountain, or that has a forest growing on the roof. Or underground, utilizing existing excavations, recycling human labor. Guerilla architecture? Integrated architecture?

The new monumentality, as you said, might not be phallic or outward. There's also one more example of 20th century architecture that fits into this. It's that Haute? something by Corbu, the chapel that looks like an upside-down boat. It has very Byzantine feel about it. Thick walls, dark, small windows, and candle lit. Before this thread that chapel made no sense to me.

Monumentality has to do with scale, not directionality or configuration, imo. I suppose it could be argued that a revolutionary idea is ENORMOUS, and therefore would register on the scale meter, but usually we are talking about scale as measured by a human form. The Haute? is the Notre Dame du Haute ( is it du or de?) The building you cite is a prime example of what we seek in this conversation; it was designed immediately *after* WWII, when Corbu turned away from the purity ( sorry) of his early work and turned to rougher, more expressionistic design and material. WWII marked a turing point in his outlook, obviously. More inward, more protected, darker, with light coming in from small high windows. And candles. A spiritual and psychological statement. Interestingly, Picasso's work also travels a similar arc from the cool rationality of analytic cubism to the controlled riot of synthetic. IMO.

The clues of what's to come is right in front of our eyes, only we can't see it. Vaults and arches existed for thousands of years before someone did something with them.

Our children and grandchildren will be able to see them.

66 posted on 10/17/2001 7:10:56 AM PDT by ItCanHappenToYou
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