Saturday, May 21, 2011

Construction in The New Yorker

The New Yorker always has fascinating articles on a variety of topics.  One of my favorites is construction related.

Back in 1995, Joe Morgenstern wrote this article about the structural design of Citicorp Center in New York City.  Potential design miscalculations were brought to the attention of the structural engineer by a student working on his dissertation.  The structural engineer, William J. LeMessurier, performed calculations based on the student's alert, and became concerned that the bracing system in the tower was suceptible to quartering winds.  Based on his concerns, the engineer raised the issue with the Owner and insurers and a fix was developed.  LeMessurier explained to his students,  "You have a social obligation.  In return for getting a license and being regarded with respect, you're supposed to be self sacrificing and look beyond the interests of yourself and your client to society as a whole.  And the most wonderful part of my story is that when I did it nothing bad happened."

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