World Trade Center Attack: UC Professor Faults Design

As we come up on the six year anniversary of the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001, it reminded me of an article published last year in Design News based on my interview with a University of California professor of Civil Engineering. After conducting extensive simulation studies of the collapse, he concluded that the buildings could have survived, had one bad design decision not led to another: “The simulation model shows the plane slicing right through the outer walls of the building like it was a flimsy egg crate,”Professor Abolhassen Astareh-Asi explained. “Because of their unique design, the buildings essentially had no robustness to withstand the impact of a medium-sized plane flying into them at 800 miles per hour.”



  1. Good catch — I checked the original article and the speed quoted was 450 miles per hour. My apologies for a true made-by-monkeys editing error!

  2. im sure he meant 800km/h

  3. I have a real problem with this quote: “…[A] medium-sized plane flying into them at 800 miles per hour.” I assure you than none of the four planes hijacked on 9/11 were going faster than the speed of sound — not even the one that did a nosedive into the Pennsylvania countryside. (FWIW, cruise speed of a 757 is Mach 0.8 or ~590 MPH.

  4. I greatly enjoyed reading this and other items. I tried to register, and finally got message saying “cannot find page requested”. Did it again, and got same message. Please check if I am registered. This is an excellent email/site.
    Fred Shaw.
    P.S. I get other Reed updates O.K.

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