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A Brief Breakdown of How 9/11 Advanced Skyscraper Design

In the September issue of Fast Company, writer Linda Tischler pens a sober, thoughtful piece on the many ways architects and engineers have revised skyscraper design in the decade since 9/11, particularly, of course, in the case of 1 World Trade Center. Here are Tischler's main points:

· To prevent the "progressive collapse" that was the Twin Towers' ultimate demise—structural elements failing in succession, like dominos—there's now "steel connections capable of redirecting the path of the upper floors' load downward through other structural members if one should fail."
· Sprinkler supply lines are now contained within an impact-resistant core.

· As with the SOM-designed 7 World Trade Center (where Fast Company holds offices), interconnected standpipes will become the norm, "so that if one should fail, the other can compensate."
· Wider staircases to provide safer evacuation routes for people on the highest floors, as well as separate staircases for firefighters.
· Proposed for a 108-story tower in South Korea: an "elevator-assisted exit system that would help people on the highest floors get out faster" and ultimately reduce evacuation time by 20 percent:
"The idea is that a building's occupants can take the stairs to designated protected refuge areas on specific floors, at which point they can take elevators—called "lifeboats"—down to exits on the ground floor."And, as architecture writer Julie Iovine of the Wall Street Journal points out, the emergency-exit stairs at 1 World Trade Center will dump evacuees onto the street as opposed to the lobby: "a voluntary rather than a mandated decision," she writes. · How 9/11 Changed the Way Skyscrapers are Designed [Co.Design]
· Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill LLP [official site]
· The Skyscraper as a Pillar of Confidence [WSJ]