Structural steel of the twin 110-story towers of the
“Had the fireproofing not been dislodged, the temperature rise of the structural components would likely have been insufficient to cause the global collapse of the towers,” says NIST in the Oct. 19 release of another interim report of its $16-million study of the WTC destruction on
Many experts familiar with the twin towers design are not surprised by the findings. But they are worth noting, say sources, because there are others, both structural engineers and fire experts, who have questioned whether the design by Skilling Helle Christiansen Robertson in some way contributed to the collapse.
According to S. Shyam Sunder, NIST’s lead investigator for the study, an ordinary office fire would likely have resulted in burn-out, not collapse.
In addition, NIST has determined that the majority of the steel was stronger than minimum requirements. “The safety of the towers was most likely not affected by the small percentage of steel below the minimum,” says the report. “Building designs routinely allow structures to withstand greater loads than are expected by including significant factors of safety. Moreover, the structural loads on
In fire tests in August, NIST also determined that the floor systems in the towers met the
The findings include an explanation for the time delay between the collapses of the two towers. (The south tower, Two WTC, survived for 56 minutes; the north tower, One WTC, for 103 minutes). NIST says the difference was primarily due to five items: the asymmetrical structural damage of the aircraft impact to Two WTC compared to the aircraft damage to One WTC; the time it took for heat to soften, buckle and shorten core columns that had fireproofing dislodged by debris impact; the structure’s ability to redistribute loads as the core columns shortened; the time it took for fires to traverse from their initial location to the face of the towers where perimeter columns were bowing inward (as seen only minutes before the collapse of each tower); and the time it took for heat to soften and buckle those columns.
NIST plans to release its final draft of the twin towers’ report in December or January. A four to six-week public comment period will follow. The final release is expected in May. The draft report on Seven WTC is set to be released in May. The final report is expected out in July.