Canadian Consulting Engineer

Buildings can’t defend against a jet

"I think the worst thing we could have done post 9/11 was to stop building important buildings, and particularly tall buildings, because we were afraid someone was going to attempt to bring them down. We have to make our buildings as safe as we...

September 12, 2011   Canadian Consulting Engineer

“I think the worst thing we could have done post 9/11 was to stop building important buildings, and particularly tall buildings, because we were afraid someone was going to attempt to bring them down. We have to make our buildings as safe as we can, without compromising their significance, their beauty, or the quality of life that goes on inside and around them. The bottom line is that a building’s design shouldn’t be the first barrier of defense against an attack from a jet, from unnatural forces. The responsibility for defending against such an attack lies elsewhere.

“We can learn how future skyscrapers can be designed better by looking at the way buildings are being built in other parts of the world, such as Asia, South America, the Middle East, and even London. The building and fire codes in Asia, where we are currently designing a number of tall buildings, are more conservative than they are in the United States. These building codes require a reinforced-concrete core, refuge floors located every 13 floors, pressurized vestibules leading to the fire stairs, and special elevators for firefighters. Fireman’s lifts in Europe allow the firemen to reach the top of the building quickly, which facilitates easier evacuation for those in need, handicapped people, etc., in lieu of  walking up the stairs as in the World Trade Center.

“I am confident that the tall building is here to stay….”

– Eugene Kohn, of Kohn Pedersen Fox. Quoted in “Wider Impacts: Tall Buildings as a Viable Proposition,” CTBUH Journal, 2011 Issue III.

To read more reflections on 9/11 in the Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat journal, click here.


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