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A tale of three towers

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Mishael Nuh.

There have been three major failures of tower structures in my lifetime.  Ronan Point, which suffered a partial collapse in 1968 due to a gas explosion; the World Trade Centre which suffered a total collapse in 2001 due to a terrorist attack, and Grenfell Tower which caught fire in 2017.  Each was caused by something for which the buildings were not designed, but it will be argued that each was a failure on the part of the engineer (as opposed to the architect).  Each case caused public outrage at the poor standard of our buildings, and each led, or should lead, to revisions of our building codes.  At the same time we hear criticisms that our buildings are vastly overdesigned, and are very wasteful of resources; can both criticisms be right?   We teach advanced structural analysis and probabilistic design, and we have computer codes to give more and more precise solutions for loading cases that the buildings will never see.  Are we designing buildings for the wrong thing?

This talk is part of the Engineering Department Structures Research Seminars series.

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