Freedom (Tower) Rising

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The rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in NYC is a go:

The biggest building planned for the 16-acre site—a heavily secured, 1,776-foot office tower with a projected cost of more than $2.1 billion—will begin an estimated five-year-long rise into the sky.

Initial work over the next few weeks will include the mobilization of heavy equipment, the setup of office trailers, the installation of stair towers 70 feet up to street level and site preparation for laying the foundation….

The deal also will steer $100 million to the World Trade Center Memorial, which began site preparation work last month.

Whole thing here.

Last fall, Reason's Ron Bailey discussed the plans to rebuild the site. And September 13, 2001, I weighed in about how to pay tribute to the victims of the WTC attacks.

NEXT: For Shame (and for Grimus, too)

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  1. I think they should conclusively determine why the buildings fell b4 rebuilding. We don’t need a repeat.

    Semi-related:

    http://www.philly.com/mld/dailynews/news/local/14439058.htm

  2. Let’s Troll:

    Conclusively determine? Well, unless you count the loony conspiracy theorists who claim that the gubmint/mafia demo’d the things via explosives, I’d say that the cause has pretty much been determined. Here’s a loose version: The building structure was a “tightly knit system”. The thing was held up by a central core column; it was connected to the “skin” (exterior walls) via the floor structures, which were metal bar joists. If any of these three elements failed, the entire structure failed. Thus, it was a “tightly knit system”. As you should know, metal fails under extremely high heat. The bar joists that comprised the floor structures had spray-applied fireproofing to protect them, but that relatively thin (and old) layer was not enough to protect against the extremely hot-burning jet fuel fires that raged in the wake of the crashes. Thus, the floor systems failed, toppling vertically like dominoes. This brought the entire structure down with it.

    Or, the CIA planted explosive charges around the foundation and covertly demolished it for some reason.

    Depends on who you talk to, I guess. ?

  3. Roll,

    We have a pretty good idea why the building fell. The buildings held up pretty well, considering the damage that was caused by the impact.

    Here’s a shout-out to the school that kicked me out, Professor Barnett and the Fire Protection Engineering department at WPI:

    http://www.wpi.edu/News/Releases/20012/femareport.html

  4. ASCE investigated the cause of the collapse pretty thoroughly. That’s the report referenced in the link Xmas provided. And it’s more or less as Evan described. The only thing I would add was that the fireproofing on the floor joists and interior columns also is vulnerable to being stripped off by the impact of debris.

  5. Here’s a loose version: . . . “tightly knit system” . . . “skin” (exterior walls) via the floor structures . . . metal bar joists. If any of these three elements failed, the entire structure failed. . . . spray-applied fireproofing . . . extremely hot-burning jet fuel fires . . . dominoes. . . .

    First, I don’t think this long chain of inferences has been sufficiently examined. I remember when I was a kid and that plane crashed at O’Hare (circa ’78) they did a better job investigating and explaining the mechanical engineering causes of that crash. Ditto the Morton Thiokol seal in ’86. We deserve a more thorough, redundancied investigation here, not a lesser one.

    More importantly, I would rephrase the problem as one where we thought we had towers that could withstand a jet impact, but we (apparently) did not get towers that could withstand a jet’s impact. I am not exactly comforted by the domino theory either. So when I talk about solving the problem, a big part of what I am talking about is making sure the building inspectors and the public they serve have a more accurate understanding of what their buildings can and cannot withstand. For example, if the fireproof was sprayed too thin, then we should know that by now (through official reports, not innuendoes). Like I said: conclusive determination of what the causation chain really was, including details (that matter!) like this.

    Or, the CIA

    If there was foul play then it was probably the recipient of the insurance payout. That is simple detective skewl 101.

  6. For the life of me, I will never understand why the friggin hell they are calling this the “Freedom Tower,” or, for that matter, why they renamed NWK airport “Liberty Airport.”

    How stupid are we?

    JMJ

  7. If there was foul play then it was probably the recipient of the insurance payout. That is simple detective skewl 101.

    If I wanted to receive insurance money for mischief, I’d find something much simpler than getting 19 guys to hijack planes and having them demolish not only my property but a section of another building as well.

    Those sorts of scenarios work well on 24, but not in real life. Then again, if 24 villains did realistic schemes the show would be called 2.

  8. Nothing says “freedom” like 200 feet of bare, windowless concrete.

    You’d almost think that the picture of the skyline was a higher priority than the people who are going to live, work, and play in Lower Manhatten.

  9. How stupid are we?

    Pretty damn.

  10. And who the hell in their right mind would work there?

    After 9/11, I had a job offer at the Empire State Building. When I told my wife, she told me that she wouldn’t let me work there if the job paid millions.

    JMJ

  11. If I wanted to receive insurance money for mischief, I’d find something much simpler than getting 19 guys to hijack planes and having them demolish not only my property but a section of another building as well.

    Understand that he got more money because it was a terrorist attack. But let’s put that aside for a second. What would have been your idea for destroying the towers in a non-suspicious manner, T.?

  12. having them demolish not only my property but a section of another building as well.

    Yeah, that WTC7 thing sticks out like a loose thread.

  13. If I wanted to receive insurance money for mischief, I’d find something much simpler than getting 19 guys to hijack planes and having them demolish not only my property but a section of another building as well.

    More important point: Just because the terror attack was real (assuming it was) does not mean that the landlord didn’t destroy his own buildings. Maybe the hi-jackings were real and the landlord was prepared in advance to maximize his insurance money positioning. Or maybe the attack caught the landlord unaware and he had to find a way to make sure nobody knew that he was packing explosives in the real estate.

  14. When I told my wife, she told me that she wouldn’t let me work there if the job paid millions.

    hehe. What does your wife think about the freedom tower then? 😉

  15. Actually, I was thinking of the Pentagon. The owner of the WTC couldn’t get any insurance money for that.

    I don’t know what I’d do if I owned a giant building and wanted to get insurance money. I don’t even know how much money the owner got, and if it offsets the lost rental income over the past several years, plus lost rental income over the next few years during reconstruction, plus the cost of reconstruction. As I recall, there was a big court case that hinged on the fine details of the insurance policy.

    So I’d probably hold off on assuming that some evil genius made money off of insurance policies on 9/11 until I knew more. Can you fill me in? Do you know if the owner of the WTC actually came out ahead? Or do you just have some assumptions?

  16. “hehe. What does your wife think about the freedom tower then? ;-)”

    I think she’d take out one hefty life insurance policy! 😉

    JMJ

  17. Just because the terror attack was real (assuming it was)

    Whatever else your diseased brain my assume, there’s no denying that 4 planes were hijacked. Yes, yes, maybe the guys doing the hijacking were agents of the Illuminati and the Trilateral Commission using mind control rays to cover up the evil deeds of the Sweetener Industrial Complex, but there were still 4 hijackings.

    That’s all I have to say about that. This is pointless.

  18. “More importantly, I would rephrase the problem as one where we thought we had towers that could withstand a jet impact, but we (apparently) did not get towers that could withstand a jet’s impact.”

    This has also been explored. Set your Tivo to search for “9/11” or “september 11th” on the Discovery channel, A&E, History, etc.

    Structurally, discounting high-temp fires & stripped fireproofing, the building succeeded. It was designed to withstand an accidental crash by a smaller jet—remember, at the time when the building was designed, nothing of this magnitude had ever happened. But the designers planned for an accidental crash at low speeds anyway. Problem was, they didn’t plan on huge airliners going at near-top speeds with full loads of fuel. They also didn’t fully realize that the fireproofing would fail so easily.

    Look, I’m only a civilian (my interest in the mechanics of the crash probably has to do with my being an architect), and I know this stuff. I learned it from various cable shows and internet articles. Now, if someone like me knows all this, then I think about what those charged with the investigation know.

    The terrorists exploited the weakness of the building. The next building won’t have that particular weakness, I’d venture—but it will have some kind of weakness; that’s unavoidable.

    So, Troll, what more do you want to know?

  19. More importantly, I would rephrase the problem as one where we thought we had towers that could withstand a jet impact, but we (apparently) did not get towers that could withstand a jet’s impact. I am not exactly comforted by the domino theory either. So when I talk about solving the problem, a big part of what I am talking about is making sure the building inspectors and the public they serve have a more accurate understanding of what their buildings can and cannot withstand. For example, if the fireproof was sprayed too thin, then we should know that by now (through official reports, not innuendoes). Like I said: conclusive determination of what the causation chain really was, including details (that matter!) like this.

    The towers were designed to withstand and impact from a Boeing 707. The basis for the design was that jet and an assumption that it would be low on fuel. The designers anticipated a jet being lost on approach and hitting the towers.

    Instead it they were hit by 767s with a much larger fuel load. Could they have designed the buildings to withstand that kind of impact? Possibly. But you can imagine many things that COULD happen over the lifespan of a building. Should you design for all of them? At some point you have to stop and say, this is the type of event we can reasonably expect to happen, even though the actual probability of it happening is very small. Designing a building to withstand every conceivable circumstance is uneconomical and unnecessary.

    As for the fireproofing, it’s a similar issue. The fireproofing is rated for a certain temperature and time. The thicker the fireproofing, the longer it can protect the structure. Again the basis of the design is a reasonable estimation of what could be expected. Say a fire fueled by the contents of the building and maybe a 3 hour duration. Toss in a lot of jet fuel and an uncontrolled fire that lasts for a longer duration and the fireproofing’s effectiveness goes down. Of course if an impact strips the fireproofing from the structure then the effectiveness is zero.

  20. So I’d probably hold off on assuming that some evil genius made money off of insurance policies on 9/11 until I knew more. Can you fill me in? Do you know if the owner of the WTC actually came out ahead? Or do you just have some assumptions?

    I don’t want to assume anything. I want to know. That is the point of my posts on this thd. Glad we agree on this.

    maybe the guys doing the hijacking were agents of the Illuminati

    When I mentioned “real” attacks, this is the kind of attack I was distinguishing. I am glad we are both happy to assume that the jets did actually slam into the buildings.

    The towers were designed to withstand and impact from a Boeing 707. . . . Instead it they were hit by 767s with a much larger fuel load.

  21. I still say that it is absolutely idiotic beyond belief to build this stupid tower.

    JMJ

  22. JMJ:

    Insightful as always. With wit and insight like that, you should have your own teevee show! Call it ‘The Jersey McJones Crappy Hour’. A snippety-snip:

    “I hate red…what a shitty color…oh, and man, you know what? Guys named Larry sure do smell bad…fuck that…you know what I say? I say we should make Kansas secede…get rid of all that corn…I like pretzels…we should get rid of doorbells…they’re dumb…knocking works…ah, and I saw a cat today…cat’s are great…”

  23. 1776 feet? Let’s make sure the only colors allowed in the building are red, white, and blue, while we’re at it.

  24. The name “Freedom Tower” is sadly ironic since the government used 9/11 as a pretext to initiate a breathtaking dissolution of individual liberty.

  25. I, on the other hand, am a full-fledged 9-11 conspiracy nut.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2023320890224991194

    Hey, all I ask is that you watch the whole thing before dismissing it (it’s an hour), and realize that this doesn’t even cover all the peculiarities of the 9-11 “attacks”.

  26. Let’s see: erecting a building called “Freedom Tower” on land originally stolen from small businessmen to build the WTC. Pardon me while I throw up.

  27. Just because the terror attack was real (assuming it was) does not mean that the landlord didn’t destroy his own buildings. Maybe the hi-jackings were real and the landlord was prepared in advance to maximize his insurance money positioning. Or maybe the attack caught the landlord unaware and he had to find a way to make sure nobody knew that he was packing explosives in the real estate.

    Or maybe the landlord had secretly removed the steel supports, sold them for scrap metal, and replaced them with flammable paraffin. Or maybe the World Trade Center wasn’t really an office complex but a storage warehouse of the Manhattan library filled with easily burnable books. Or perhaps the WTC was actually the secret headquarters of an alien conspiracy to turn humans into biobatteries, and the hijackers were the only men who had both knowledge of this conspiracy and the guts to save the human race.

  28. Evan,

    No one wants to work in this silly tower, it’s going to empty longer than the last ones, it’ll be a huge target, it’s cynically coopted 9/11 for phoney “patriot” points…

    Do you have anything non-interpersonal to add?

    JMJ

  29. $100 million dollars for a frickin’ memorial?! That’s what, over $30,000 for each and every fatality?

    What a colossal waste of money.

  30. $100 million dollars for a frickin’ memorial?! That’s what, over $30,000 for each and every fatality?

    What a colossal waste of money.

  31. Jersee:

    “No one wants to work in this silly tower,”

    Polls, data, statistics, proof, backup, anything. Your blithe declarations do not constitute fact.

    “it’s going to empty longer than the last ones,”

    Ditto.

    “it’ll be a huge target”

    So we should cower under the possibility that a 9/11 v2.0 might happen? Come on. Do you really think, after 9/11, that they’re going to go after it again? I just don’t find that plausible. Maybe it is vanishingly probable…but does that mean we should build a big bunker instead?

    “it’s cynically coopted 9/11 for phoney “patriot” points…”

    So we should refrain from rebuilding on the site because of the cynical motives that some politicians might have?

    Do you have anything non-interpersonal to add?

    I added much non-interpersonal substance above. But when you show up and start yapping like a child, I find it rather satisfying to bring you back down to reality. Ahhhhh. Thaaat’s the ticket.

  32. Jennifer,

    2 responses: first a new response, then the one the server keeps eating.

    NEW RESPONSE

    “On February 15, 1898, the American battleship USS Maine in Havana harbor suffered an explosion and quickly sank with a loss of 266 men. Evidence as to the cause of the explosion was inconclusive and contradictory, but the American press, led by the two New York papers, proclaimed that this was certainly a despicable act of sabotage by the Spaniards. The press aroused the public to demand war, with the slogan “Remember the Maine! To hell with Spain!”.”

    In view of one of your recent posts, I know that you would never fall for these kind of shennanigans if an equivalent situation came to pass in modern times. 😉

    OLD RESPONSE:

    Those are creative theories, but maybe too fanciful.

    I think the most likely possibility is that the jet crashes caused the collapses.

    I think the next most likely possibility is that the collapse was cause by explosives that had been pre-planted in the building.

    That thing about parafin is less likely, only about as likely as the possibility that air defense couldn’t make it out to Shanksville, PA on 2 hours notice.

  33. Evan, there’s no poll that I know of that expresses whether or not people would work in this stupid tower. If you have suh a thing, we’d all love to see it. Of course, one should be sure that SOMEONE looked into that and the fact that we haven’t seen it should make one wonder. As for my impression, only an idiot would take the chance of working in such a building.

    It’ll still be a huge target and the fact that they hit it before only makes it a bigger one.

    We should refrain from building a big stupid tower – that’s all.

    JMJ

  34. Honestly, I look forward to the calm logic, sanity, and common sense of our killer robot successors. Yeah, they’re going to slaughter all of us (or maybe just go the enslavement route), but at least they won’t concoct bizarre conspiracy theories for every single friggin’ event. Ooh, look, there was an earthquake. Musta been some aliens.

    Though I personally don’t believe in the discovery of the New World. We’re really living in Madagascar. It’s all a Spanish plot.

  35. but the American press, led by the two New York papers, proclaimed that this was certainly a despicable act of sabotage by the Spaniards

    Had videotape technology existed back then, and had all of America seen footage (played over and over again for three consecutive days on TV) of Spaniards approaching the Maine with gasoline and torches, I think blaming the destruction of the Maine on Spanish sabotage would have been quite a reasonable assumption.

    And I think the idea of a landlord secretly selling the steel supports of his building is just as likely as a landlord using his expensive high-rise office space as an explosives-storage facility, both of which are far more likely than “the hijackings were real but the landlord still destroyed his own buildings.”

  36. Honestly, I look forward to the calm logic, sanity, and common sense of our killer robot successors.

    But will the Robots ever learn to love?

  37. Those are creative theories, but maybe too fanciful.

    I think the most likely possibility is that the jet crashes caused the collapses.

    I think the next most likely possibility is that the collapse was cause by explosives that had been pre-planted in the building.

    Dave W.,

    Would you care to put odds on each of these two possibilities?

  38. Had videotape technology existed back then, and had all of America seen footage (played over and over again for three consecutive days on TV) of Spaniards approaching the Maine with gasoline and torches, I think blaming the destruction of the Maine on Spanish sabotage would have been quite a reasonable assumption.

    I believe that the papers did accurately report that the Spanish had been (understandably) cheesed off by the fact that an American battleship was in their port. Are you saying that this means the Spanish sunk that ship? Bad as a male, I tells ya!

    a landlord using his expensive high-rise office space as an explosives-storage facility

    If there were explosives planted in the building, I don’t think they were in storage. The collapse was too neat for that possibility.

  39. Matt L:

    79.5% Jets
    19.5% planted explosives
    1% other

  40. No one wants to work in this silly tower

    Then the markets will take care of the rents until people want to work in that tower.

  41. “Evan, there’s no poll that I know of that expresses whether or not people would work in this stupid tower.”

    Then why in the hell would you say, “no one wants to work there”? What good does it do anyone to make these completely unsubstantiated comments?

    “Of course, one should be sure that SOMEONE looked into that and the fact that we haven’t seen it should make one wonder.”

    Look around, Jersey. Are the Empire State, Sears Tower, Citibank building, etc., emptying out because people are afraid to work there after 9/11? You should be wary of projecting your own feelings on the rest of the population.

    I’ve seen the designs. You haven’t? Good thing you feel confident to make all these comments, then.

    “As for my impression, only an idiot would take the chance of working in such a building.”

    You really are that stupid. Think about it, Jersey. You take more of a risk every time you get into your car. In fact, the risks are astronomically higher. Your fear is based on irrational emotion, but is entirely devoid of reason.

    “It’ll still be a huge target and the fact that they hit it before only makes it a bigger one.”

    Only if you’re a stupid terrorist. If you were smart, you’d diversify your attack plans, and hit them where they DON’T expect it—not where they expect it the most.

    “We should refrain from building a big stupid tower – that’s all.”

    That’s not all. I’ve refuted all your supporting reasons, so you don’t just get to make the same declaration all over again, and then end the discussion by tacking “that’s all” on the end.

    “2+2=8”

    no, it doesn’t. 2+2=4.

    “2+2=8. That’s all!

  42. The only conspiracy I would buy would be one sort of like the Pearl Harbor theory – that the gov’t knew an attack was coming and sort of let it happen (though they weren’t really sure exactly when or how, but generally did). After all, the Bushies did know that OBL was prepping for attack, and they knew OBL pretty well and knew that he knew them and OBL knew that an attack on a Bushized America would lead to the war they (all of them) wanted. No Bush – probably no 9/11. Also, there were some kind of war games going on that day with the air forces in the general area, which is curious. But of all this I am certainly unsure.

    JMJ

  43. Evan,

    Your fear is based on irrational emotion, but is entirely devoid of reason.

    You expected that JMJ was more rational in her private life than in her politics?

  44. The collapse was too neat for that possibility.

    The collapses were anything but neat. Debris fell all over the place.

  45. Thomas Pain:

    No one wants to work in this silly tower

    “Then the markets will take care of the rents until people want to work in that tower.”

    No, then the city taxpayers will have to make up the receipts. That’s the way real life works, dreamboy.

    Evan,

    Evan, there’s no poll that I know of that expresses whether or not people would work in this stupid tower.

    “Then why in the hell would you say, “no one wants to work there”? What good does it do anyone to make these completely unsubstantiated comments?”

    #1, more than anecdotal, because of the large numbers I asked and universal concurrence, no one I know would work in those towers, #2 I’m not a moron, #3 ONLY and idiot would think otherwise.

    Of course, one should be sure that SOMEONE looked into that and the fact that we haven’t seen it should make one wonder.

    “Look around, Jersey. Are the Empire State, Sears Tower, Citibank building, etc., emptying out because people are afraid to work there after 9/11? You should be wary of projecting your own feelings on the rest of the population.”

    Actually, yes. Many, many people (I work with people who work in two of those buildings – Sears and ESB) have either left (quite a while ago) or turned down jobs there (as I have). You just don’t know it.

    “I’ve seen the designs. You haven’t? Good thing you feel confident to make all these comments, then.”

    I’ve seen the designs. They’re eh.

    As for my impression, only an idiot would take the chance of working in such a building.

    “You really are that stupid. Think about it, Jersey. You take more of a risk every time you get into your car. In fact, the risks are astronomically higher. Your fear is based on irrational emotion, but is entirely devoid of reason.”

    Nice try at the bait n switch. I, more than you, have long lambasted the idiotically unfounded fear of terror. But – when it comes to working in a giant tower of stupidity, the chances are compounded in all sorts of ways. You just haven’t thought of them. Take insurance, or how other people, like spouses and such feel, got it? No?

    It’ll still be a huge target and the fact that they hit it before only makes it a bigger one.”

    “Only if you’re a stupid terrorist. If you were smart, you’d diversify your attack plans, and hit them where they DON’T expect it—not where they expect it the most.”

    No. The terrorist attack spots that they know will get the most visceral reaction. It’s not a war, like some morons think, it’s a political game.

    We should refrain from building a big stupid tower – that’s all.

    “That’s not all. I’ve refuted all your supporting reasons, so you don’t just get to make the same declaration all over again, and then end the discussion by tacking “that’s all” on the end.”

    You haven’t “refuted” anything. You’re friggin clueless.

    JMJ

  46. Nice post, Dave W.

  47. If there were explosives planted in the building, I don’t think they were in storage. The collapse was too neat for that possibility.

    Dave W.,

    Too neat? How so?

  48. No, then the city taxpayers will have to make up the receipts. That’s the way real life works, dreamboy.

    Uh huh.

    Don’t do much work in real estate then?

  49. Officially, this is the most imbecilic thread in this forum’s history.

  50. Nice post, Dave and TWBA!

    Thomas Pain, the PA is in on this plan and tat’s taxpayor dollars. Rather than build some smaller buildings with a little less square footage, but that you can fill, they are building one big one that they may never fill. That’s a loss for all.

    JMJ

  51. I have the perfect apparel for this thread:

    http://www.cafepress.com/tinfoiltees

  52. Too neat? How so?

    The towers fell down, not up (as they would have if the jet fuel ignited a hidden explosives warehouse as Jennifer suggested (perhaps faceticiously)).

    Some people say that the collapses were even too neat to have been caused consistently with the official account. If Loose Change 2 is still on the web, then you can explore that angle if u r so inclined. As you can calculate from my previos response 2u, I think that hypothesis is 20.5% correct.

  53. From what I understand the towers fell straight down because they were contructed sort of like a sideways abacus rod, where you have a solid column and loose floors (beads), sort of wrapped around the column, that would collapse onto each other in case of just sort of a happenstance. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    JMJ

  54. Rather than build some smaller buildings with a little less square footage, but that you can fill, they are building one big one that they may never fill. That’s a loss for all.

    Not neccessarily. If the bigger building has a higher insured value than the aggreagte of the smaller buildings and if the new building is as dangerous as you suggest, then the most profitable building is probably the larger one. the only loser is the insurance co!

  55. Oh, yeah and anybody who gets in the way during the payout event.

  56. You have a point there Dave, altought the city residents get stuck with a higher tax burden to make up for the lost future revenues… hmmm…

    JMJ

  57. But if u work in Jersey, then ur still good, Jersey?

  58. Oh, I’m fine. I live and work in Jersey now. I feel for my NY friends, though.

    JMJ

  59. Some people say that the collapses were even too neat to have been caused consistently with the official account. If Loose Change 2 is still on the web, then you can explore that angle if u r so inclined. As you can calculate from my previos response 2u, I think that hypothesis is 20.5% correct.

    Yes I am aware of those theories. That’s why I asked what you meant by “too neat”.

  60. You hit it right on the head, Isaac.

    JMJ

  61. Dave

    In order to hold your conspiracy theory together you are pretending that an extensive investigation was performed and a huge report of its findings has been published. On topp of that any number of independent agencies have looked at those results and concurred.

    Hell the original designer concurss and he has a hell of a lot lose in that it exposed some of the deficiencies in his design*.

    But then most people who build a good conspiracy theory do so by ignoring or denying most of the facts of the event. That and making up some out right falsehoods.

    *note the by deficiencies I am not implying any kind of negligence or malpractice, it’s just that we had never been presented with the opportunity to examine the failure of a building on this scale before. We now understand far more about the behaviour of high rise buildings than we did when this was designed.

  62. …you are pretending that an extensive investigation was not performed….dammit

  63. Jersey

    Your anecdotal evidence for the illadvisedness of this project may or may not be valid. But I’m fairly certain that this project is not getting the kind of financial scrutiny for profit potential that a responsible private real estate developer would give it.

    Now I’m all for symbol and all, but I’m just not sure what this things a symbol of.

  64. So they are going to prevent the domino effect in the Freedom Tower how, Isaac?

    They recommended that how many other skyscrapers be pulled because of this new domino thing they just now understand? (Runaway planes aren’t the only things that can cause hot fires you know.)

    it’s just that we had never been presented with the opportunity to examine the failure of a building on this scale before

  65. Regardless of whether one believes in “conspiracy theories”, consider this: no investigation of the materials at the site was ever done. It’s true that engineers have said “that’s how it must have happened” re impact, jet fuel, insulation, etc. The problem is that none of them actually got to examine the building’s debris. It was guarded jealously, trucked onto barges, and then sold for scrap. Normally, when a plane crashes for example, everybody has inspectors check out the scene: FAA, insurance company, airline. When the WTC went down, that valuable process was stopped cold. Why did the government do that? In all likelihood they weren’t trying to cover something up, but it’s still suspicious behavior.

  66. Wasn’t there some particular sensitivity about remains being mixed up with the debris? I seem to remember something like that being mentioned as a hindrance on the investigation.

  67. Wasn’t there some particular sensitivity about remains being mixed up with the debris? I seem to remember something like that being mentioned as a hindrance on the investigation.

  68. The building fell straight down because of simple fucking physics. Take a long tall mass; burn a whole in the middle; gravity pulls the top of the mass straight down because there is no horizontal component of gravity; there may be some minor torque applied to the upper mast because the burnt hole is not symetrical, but in general everything goes straight down.

    What’s so hard to understand?

  69. I dunno, Dave, I never got that suspicious over the whole thing. Big jets full of fuel hit big buildings head on. Explosions, heat, collapse. We were all pretty freaked out afterwards, the government included (didn’t the Senate hold hands and sing “God Bless America” or something?), so any haphazard and inexplicable actions are most likely attributable to that. The idea that the buildings were intentionally destroyed only makes sense if we went to the trouble of arranging to fly the planes into the buildings. Whatever for? We could’ve just blown them up the usual way, which would’ve been consistent with the last attempted assault on the WTC.

    Of course, if you tell me it was the Borg, well, then I’m with you.

  70. Carrick:

    If some support columns softened faster than others, then there would be a horizontal component. A moment arm, if u will, pulling on the relatively unsoftened beams as the softened beams stopped carrying their share of the weight of the upper floors.

    Now maybe all the beams softened in unison (in both towers, as well as WTC7), but, like I said: I give the jets possibility 79.5%.

  71. You will be assimilated.

  72. Hope it wasn’t the Borg, they can’t love. Cylons can. I welcome our new robot overlords!

    Seriously, the economics of the entire project – and especially the Freedom Tower – are insane. We don’t need that much office space coming on the market all at once.

    Also, what about democracy? Polls have consistently shown New Yorkers don’t WANT the damn Freedom Tower, even before we (I live a five minute walk from Ground Zero) found out it’ll be a solid, inhuman slab for the first 200 or 400 or whatever feet above steet level. Pataki is cramming his project down our throats. What most New Yorkers want is the Twin Towers rebuilt, with updated technology, on the other side of the site from the original footprint.

    Even better, IMO, would be for the Port Authority to sell off the non-memorial part of the land and let the market decide what’s to be built and where.

    And yes, at the risk of sounding heartless, the memorial is getting too overblown and costing way too damn much.

  73. Given the number of floors above the fire zone (and the corresponding amount of mass above the weakened columns), it is highly unlikely that even if half the columns retained their full strenth they could have applied any appreciable torque to the upper floors.

    Once some failed, they all failed — catestrophically.

    You can assume with many “nines” of certainty that the fire produced by the jet fuel cause the collapse of the buildings.

  74. The idea that the buildings were intentionally destroyed only makes sense if we went to the trouble of arranging to fly the planes into the buildings. Whatever for?

    If the official story was that the towers were brought down by terrorist explosives then we would want to know exactly where the explosives were planted. There would be an investigation of that. If you are a landlord or spy planting explosives in a building then that is the last thing you want to have happen after you take down the building. Better to destroy it in a way that will not lead to any sort of serious investigation.

    Second point: who said the landlord arranged the plane crashes? (not me)

    Third point: we are willing to believe that Osama thought the plane crashes were the most reliable way to do max carnage without getting caught. If we think Osama could think that, then we should be prepared to think that other ppl could think that as well.

  75. Given the number of floors above the fire zone (and the corresponding amount of mass above the weakened columns), it is highly unlikely that even if half the columns retained their full strenth they could have applied any appreciable torque to the upper floors.

    Says you. Frankly this is the kind of thing I expected to have surface in the official reports.

    Also, altho I think I take the intended meaning of this passage, what you are literally saying is that the unsoftened columns could not apply the torque required once the soft columns softened. If this is true then one side of the building would be expected to fall sooner than the other side — or maybe one side would fall and the other not. Your language suggests this possibility, even tho I assume you are really trying to say the opposite.

    Add’l point: since the columns “softened” you would expect catastrophic failure, but not neccessarily instantaneous catastrophic failure.

  76. …consider this: no investigation of the materials at the site was ever done.

    No investigation was done at the site because the were trying to find remains (in fact for the first few days there was some hope of finding suvivors).

    The problem is that none of them actually got to examine the building’s debris.

    There was extensive examination of the structural steel at the disposal site. It is shown on the Nova documentary that was shown on PBS.

    This is typical of the kind of urban legends that spring up to create or support conspiracy theories.

    The other thing that aids the conspiracy theorymonger is his ability to exploit the general ignorance of the public. None of us knows enough about engineering, aviation or the layout of the site to not be somewhat vulnerable to misinformation.

    Does anyone remember the King of the Hill episode where Dale goes to Dallas to prove once and for all his theory on the JFK assassination and finds that the site doesn’t look anything like he imagined it did. None of the conditions match his scenario but the Warren commission version fits perfectly. It was a perfect explanation for most conspiracy gullibility.

  77. Dave

    Even if the towers had not collapsed it would have been a runaway success for Osama et al. It was a terror attack, and people were fucking terrified. Not just in NYC but all the way to Bumfuck, Nevada.

    For Christ’s sake, give it a fucking rest.

  78. Isaac,

    If u are serios about the stuff then you pay people extra to separate the livers from the louvres and you keep all the metal so that it can be restudied and restudied.

    Think about the UUS Maine mystery that Jennifer and I were discussing above. They studied it in 1911. The 1911 study said it was a mine. Now, in modern times, after more modern forensic investigations in 1976 and 1999 we understand that we have no idea if it was a mine or an accident. The primary reson for this continuing uncertainty is that they trashed the wrecked ship in 1912 and nobody knows where it is now.

  79. Even if the towers had not collapsed it would have been a runaway success for Osama et al. It was a terror attack, and people were fucking terrified. Not just in NYC but all the way to Bumfuck, Nevada.

    This has nothing to do with how the towers fell. No one is disputing that this was a runaway succes for OBL. All I am asking is who else was this outcome a runaway success for?

  80. The impact of the crash actually did very little damage to the building as a whole. The floors above the impact zone remained intact and essentialy functioned as one monolithic block.

    As a thought experiment, assume that someone goes through a single floor randomly cutting one support column at a time. When you cut each column, the weight of the floors above is instaneously transfered to all the remaining columns in a mostly uniform way.

    At some point, you cut one more column and exceed the carrying capacity of all the other columns and they all “blow-out” at the same time. The floors above come straight down in unison.

    That is how I imagine the fire caused the building to fail.

  81. Exactly, carrick. Now, if all of the initial failures happened simultaneously on one side of the building then it’s quite plausible that there would be torque. But if the burning fuel spreads out then there’s no reason to think that all of the initial failures will be on one particular side.

    Also, it’s not like there were some really soft columns and some really hard columns. They were all softening from the fire, so the differences between the columns were only matters of degree. If enough of them go out, then the others are pretty close to failure anyway, and under the great weight they all go.

    Now, of course, that’s just a rough approach to the problem. An expert could do it more thoroughly. But if none of the knowledgeable folks are contradicting the common sense analysis, and if we know for a fact that planes hit those buildings (they did), then it seems pretty obvious what happened.

    There’s a part of me that would love to believe in conspiracies, but in this case it’s pretty obvious what happened.

  82. What most New Yorkers want is the Twin Towers rebuilt

    Not this New Yorker. The original WTC was a cold, sterile relic of the 60s. All the street life was pushed into an underground shopping mall. Why make that mistake again?

    I don’t care for the “Liberty Tower” either, but at this point almost anything is better than a giant gaping hole.

  83. The impact of the crash actually did very little damage to the building as a whole. The floors above the impact zone remained intact and essentialy functioned as one monolithic block.

    Here is your thought experiment, Carrick:

    Imagine you have a standard 3 legged stool with an oil drum full of oil placed on it. The oil drum is wider than the stool, but the drum is centered on the stool so that the assembly stays up. Then you cut through one of the legs of the stool (quickly or slowly it doesn’t matter).

    Which way does the oil drum fall?

  84. But if the burning fuel spreads out [evenly]

    79.5%* correct, T.!

    FOOTNOTE

    * see above post for derivation of this figure.

  85. Imagine you have a standard 3 legged stool with an oil drum full of oil placed on it. The oil drum is wider than the stool, but the drum is centered on the stool so that the assembly stays up. Then you cut through one of the legs of the stool (quickly or slowly it doesn’t matter).

    Which way does the oil drum fall?

    ===

    No, in your example the two remaining legs remain intact causing the drum to fall sideways. This is not an accurate model.

    Instead, imagine a one ton block of granite sitting on a support structure that has been carefully engineered to support the weight of the block and nothing more. Cut one leg, the others collapse instantaneously. Everything goes straight down.

  86. Okay, Carrick, let’s do the experiment again, but we will expand it to address your objections.

    This time we have two stolls and a hell of a lot of oil barrels.

    We use the first stool to determine the maximum number of barrels that a stool can hold up so long as nobody plays with the legs. We do this by stacking barrels until the stool collapses straight down, smashing all the legs under compressive stress.

    Then we use the 2d stool to make a new assembly. On this one we stack only as many barrels as the stool can hold (but no fewer). On this 2d assembly we have somebody use a heat source to soften one of the stool legs, but not the others.

    Which way does the oil barrel stack fall for this second assy?

  87. One comment on the “torque” theories.

    The orientation of the load applied to the remaining columns matters. A H shaped column has a greater resistance to loading applied to the flange sides then the web sides. If the additional load creates a bending moment perpendicular to the web it will fail with less load than if the moment is applied perpendicular to the flange.

  88. Even better, IMO, would be for the Port Authority to sell off the non-memorial part of the land and let the market decide what’s to be built and where.

    It strikes me that the last time the market decided anything in NYC was sometime before John Roebling arrived to build that bridge. 🙂

    But you’re right that’s what I’d prefer to see happen, but I guess as a non-New Yorker it’s none of my business. 🙂

  89. I have a cunning plan. Let’s skip the tower and build a gigantic statue of the Prophet. We build it all the while insisting it’s an attempt to reach out to the Muslim community. In the meantime, they go freakin’ nuts over the gigantic representation of Mohammed bestriding New York like, like, a gigantic statue of something.

    Yes, I am a super genius. My plan would have the unfortunate side effect of offending the moderate Muslims, but no plan of this nature can be perfect.

  90. Dave W.,

    Neither of your “experiments” comes close to modelling the structure of the WTC. There is a bit more to the collapse than what your models describe.

    Carrick,

    Your model is a little lacking too.

  91. Carrick,

    Your model is a little lacking too.

    ==

    Yes it is. Tough to do hardcore engineering in a blog forum.

  92. Carrick,

    The simplest model I could think of would be to stand on an empty soda can and then have someone poke the can. BOOM. Down you go. And straight down.

  93. Neither of your “experiments” comes close to modelling the structure of the WTC. There is a bit more to the collapse than what your models describe.

    All my experiments were meant to knock down is the idea that it should be self-evident to a layperson that of course the towers would go straight down, all 4 walls substantially in sync.

    Don’t forget, I give all you guyes pet theory a 79.5% shot at being the actual truth. This 79.5% derives mostly from the difficulty of predicting a successful terrorist attack than it has to do with any “intuitive” feelings I have about torques or moment arms. I am not trusting my “intuitive” feelings regarding the physics of skyscraper collapse to bolster the official account and neither should Carrick.

  94. I am not trusting my “intuitive” feelings regarding the physics of skyscraper collapse to bolster the official account and neither should Carrick.

    ===

    I have a degree in physics and 20+ years as an engineer. I get paid to trust my intuitive feelings. Do you?

  95. All my experiments were meant to knock down is the idea that it should be self-evident to a layperson that of course the towers would go straight down, all 4 walls substantially in sync.

    If it’s not self evident to a layperson then perhaps one SHOULD defer to the opinions of those who do understand the mechanisms of building collapse. Like, perhaps, the engineers who prepared the ASCE report.

  96. Funny that. I get paid not to trust other people’s intuitive feelings. I guess this clash was predictable.

  97. so be it

  98. carrick, your intuition is informed by training and experience. That’s a very valuable sort of intuition.

  99. The ever-creepy John Derbyshire of National Review fame once wrote that the WTC site should be subdivided into 50X100 foot lots, and each lot sold individually. A brass plaque should be installed, he went on, in the sidewalk, and every day, a municipal employee could polish the brass plaque.

    I think that idea is ungerous, crabbed, glib, narrow-minded, ill-informed, and lacking in any understanding of urban form and and function.

    But it is still miles better that what is actually proposed for the site.

  100. carrick, your intuition is informed by training and experience. That’s a very valuable sort of intuition.

    And I’m sure sometimes it is or can be backed by extensive calculations.

  101. lacking in any understanding of urban form and and function

    Yeah, it’s not like much of the rest of NYC is built on small, individual lots. Er, wait a minute – yes it is.

  102. The world needs professional skeptics. I have no problem with being challenged in any forum. That is the essence of peer review.

  103. Of course the very nature of peer review requires the person doing the reviewing to have a knowledge of the subject that is somewhat greater than a layperson.

  104. That is the essence of peer review.

    and exactly what I say is missing from the WTC investigation.

    You can’t have a peer review if you trash the evidence.

  105. rhywun,

    In the middle of the Lower Manhatten business district?

    That’s an awful lot of two-deckahs and bodegas for a skyscraper neighborhood.

    I love my 4504 square foot lot with the porch 6′ feet off the back of the sidewalk, but I don’t think I’d like it quite as much if I had a few dozen stories of office space across the street and a multi-lane road out my front door.

  106. What? No comments on my Prophet on the Hudson plan? What’s wrong with you people?

    Oh, I get it. You’re simply unwilling to die for a Hit & Run thread. Cowards.

  107. The simplest model I could think of would be to stand on an empty soda can and then have someone poke the can. BOOM. Down you go. And straight down.

    DAMN! Why couldn’t I come up with that previously? That’s perfect!

  108. Of course the very nature of peer review requires the person doing the reviewing to have a knowledge of the subject that is somewhat greater than a layperson.

    Dave’s only knowledge is Google. If he can’t google it, he has no idea and he’ll refute it.

    He’s one of the new “google genuises”.

  109. In the middle of the Lower Manhatten business district?

    Sure. There are few neighborhoods in NYC that are *all* skyscrapers. You’d be surprised how many 1 or 2 story buildings there are even in Midtown. Unfortunately they tend to get snapped up and turned into soulless headquarters for the likes of Conde Nast and the NY Times… But the 50×100 lot resembles the standard lots that are built up to around 6 to 12 stories all over Manhattan – especially on side streets. If Derb’s plan were taken seriously, we’d likely wind up with one or two large skyskrapers (if 2 or 3 adjacent lots combine) and the rest would look like a typical residential/commercial mix. Which would actually be more appropriate for its location almost right on the waterfront than the enormous skyscrapers we’re going to get. Unforntunately the awful World Financial Center is in the way.

  110. He’s one of the new “google genuises”.

    They build skyscrapers like balloons now. One rupture and the fluid pressure is released throughout the entirety of the body substantially instantaneously (at the speed of sound anyway).

    No, I don’t think they build skyscrapres on that model. Can you see why this would be a bad way to design a skyscraper? Where do they store the pressurized fluid? This pressurized fluid is the thing holding you up in the can scenario — I mean, you do understand that it is not structural integrity of the can that hold you up prior to the point in time at which the leak is sprung, don’t you?

  111. No. It’s the corn syrup that holds you up. Corn syrup is the secret ingredient in buildings. No more corn syrup and all the buildings fall down.

    Damn it! Where is my tinfoil hat? Oh yeah, soaking in corn syrup.

  112. “There are few neighborhoods in NYC that are *all* skyscrapers.”

    Yes, I realize that, but the WTC superblock, and the area in its vicinity, happens to be one of them. This would be a case of dropping a dramatically different urban form in an island in the middle of blocks and blocks of a different, incompatible urban form. I don’t care that 5000 square foot lots roolz in Brooklyn, or Harlem, or even in certain parts of the southern half of Manhatten. That’s not what’s there.

    I’m against radical clearance and anti-contextual redevelopment. Even when the redeveloped morphology is something I like. I’m pretty much pro-5000 square foot lots across the board, but I have to make an exception here.

    Also, though I didn’t say this before, Derbyshire recommended that no one be able to buy more than one of the lots. He really was postulating a clutch of two-deckers and bodegas.

  113. Check out the vid that J. Bruno links to at April 27 11:25 AM concerning the peculiarities of 9/11! It’s quite intriuging:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2023320890224991194

    Also, check out PHYSICS 911… http://www.physics911.net/
    …and see what these scientists and engineers have to say about it.

  114. Yes, I realize that, but the WTC superblock, and the area in its vicinity, happens to be one of them.

    The WTC site is on the edge of the financial district. Immediately north is Tribeca, an area of shorter buildings (6-10 stories with a few skyscrapers). The original WTC towers were the ones that were dramatically out of place. Anyway I agree with you more or less – I think the best solution would be to restore the original street grid and build stuff that fits into the surrounding context. But it seems like we’re not going to get anything like that. Probably because it’s a superblock instead of individual lots.

  115. “Immediately north is Tribeca, an area of shorter buildings (6-10 stories with a few skyscrapers).” But you can’t do 6-10 story buildings on 5000 square foot lots. If the WTC property was a penninsula of highrise juttign into a traditional neighborhood of apartment houses and mercantile buildings, I’d be right there with you.

    “The original WTC towers were the ones that were dramatically out of place.” Yes, that’s true. But the neighborhood has grown up around them over the past three+ decades.

    I don’t think the original street grid is necessarily realistic, but that’s the right direction. At least they’re reconnecting one of the streets they eliminated for the WTC superblock, and cutting the site in half.

  116. Not this New Yorker. The original WTC was a cold, sterile relic of the 60s. All the street life was pushed into an underground shopping mall. Why make that mistake again?

    I don’t care for the “Liberty Tower” either, but at this point almost anything is better than a giant gaping hole.

    Actually, I agree – was just saying that given a choice between the “Freedom Tower” and a rebuilt Twin Towers, polls consistently show most New Yorkers reject Pataki’s monument to his own ego.

    I’d prefer to see the street grid restored, a reasonable monument built, and the market sort the rest out.

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