No. 71 . 17 October 2001 
ArchitectureWeek
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Engineering Forensics of Collapse

by Michael J. Crosbie

Behind the slowly shrinking heaps of rubble in lower Manhattan and Arlington, Virginia, a phalanx of forensic engineers, supported by a variety of research grants, is working against the flow of debris as it is carted off to recycling sites and landfills, searching for clues about how three of the largest U.S. buildings were mortally wounded.

Twisted steel, melted insulation, tangled rebar, shards of aircraft fuselage these artifacts and more might begin to suggest what happened on September 11, 2001 that brought down several buildings at New York's World Trade Center, and left a gruesome gash in the side of the Pentagon.

Research Groups Take Action

The forensic activities are being propelled by research grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), and other private and public agencies that have hired engineers and architects to help figure out how the buildings failed.

Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other structural engineering associations, AISC has formed a task force to investigate the World Trade Center collapse. The ASCE has fielded its own teams of engineers to study what happened at the trade center and the Pentagon.  

Continue...

Related Stories:
Rebuilding in New York
Pentagon Battered but Firm
Beyond Disaster

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