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Engaging the Missing Science at the World Trade Center

A Call for Building Community Leadership and Social Care

by Henry MacLean

11/13/2015 - 13:23

In the 11 seconds it takes you to read this sentence, each of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center collapsed more than 1,300 feet, at near-free-fall acceleration, through 80,000 tons of structural steel framing. Now, 14 years later, most Americans are still unaware that World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story high-rise not hit by an airplane, also collapsed symmetrically and virtually at free-fall acceleration, into a neat pile of rubble just six stories high. WTC 7 fell at 5:20 PM, seven hours after the North Tower came tumbling down.

Scores of fundamental questions remain about the official 9/11 reports published by the government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — questions that challenge NIST's understanding of and adherence to the basic laws of physics, principles of engineering, and rules of building science. One such problematic study is the final report on WTC 7, which NIST released in 2008.

One-third of Americans surveyed on this subject want to see a new investigation of the explosive destruction of all three WTC skyscrapers. After viewing the 6.5-second video footage of the Building 7 collapse, 46% of these citizens — and nearly 95% of architects and engineers — suspect it was destroyed by controlled demolition, as was revealed by the 2013 poll, conducted by YouGov.

Building professionals interested in a brief but penetrating look at WTC 7's destruction can join Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth at this year's ABX, being held at the Boston Conference & Exposition Center from Tuesday, November 17, through Thursday, November 19. The AE911Truth exhibit booth — #1165 in the Exhibit Hall — will be freshly unpacked from the national AIA Convention 2015, which the city of Atlanta hosted in May.

Richard Gage, AIA, the founder and CEO of this 2,300 A/E member nonprofit organization, will be available to talk with convention-goers at the booth throughout the convention, along with several signatories to the AE911Truth petition here in New England. In addition, Mr. Gage will give a presentation on the Learning Stage of the Convention Center (LSCO2) on Thursday, November 19. In his talk, he will contrast the elements of NIST's official investigation of WTC 7 with the abundant scientific evidence omitted from that investigation — evidence such as video recordings of the building's destruction, eyewitness testimony, and scientific forensic evidence that has surfaced since NIST's final reports.

Meanwhile, a new booklet published by AE911Truth, titled Beyond Misinformation: What Science Says About the Destruction of World Trade Center Buildings 1, 2, and 7, is being mailed to more than 20,000 architects and engineers this fall. This fully illustrated, meticulously referenced, and professionally reviewed booklet outlines much of the key evidence that was conspicuously missing from the NIST report.

It can be summarized in these ten points:

1. Rapid onset of destruction

2. Constant acceleration at or near free fall through what should have been the path of greatest resistance

3. Numerous eyewitness accounts of explosions (including from 118 FDNY personnel)

4. Lateral ejection of multi-ton steel framing members at distances up to 600 feet and at speeds of more than 60 mph

5. Mid-air pulverization of 90,000 tons of concrete, along with a large volume of expanding pyroclastic-like dust clouds

6. Isolated explosive ejections that were 20 to 60 stories below the "crush zone"

7. Total destruction and dismemberment of all three buildings, resulting in the "disappearance" of the 220 floors (each an acre in size) of WTC 1 and WTC 2 — and of the 47 floors of WTC 7, the remnants of which became three relatively small debris piles

8. Several tons of molten steel/iron found in the debris piles

9. Evidence of thermite incendiaries on steel beams

10. Nano-thermite composites and iron microspheres found in WTC dust samples

As a new signatory of the AE911Truth petition, I am often asked by friends, colleagues, and family members with whom I've shared this material: "Henry, why not put your energies into something positive — something that can uplift our troubled world — instead of dwelling on such dark events?"

It is difficult at times, I admit, to see the value of questioning what many assume to be a "case closed" crime. Over the past year, I have been fortunate to have worked on this issue with others in the greater Boston area and throughout New England, many of whom have been actively supporting AE911Truth since its inception in 2006. Thankfully, we are not the only ones who believe in this cause. Along with us, 55 AIA colleagues cosponsored Resolution 15-6, which asked the AIA to call for a reinvestigation of WTC 7.

Why did dozens of AIA members support this resolution? I believe it's because we recognize that the three New York City high-rise building failures that took 2,700 lives on that fateful day triggered massive changes in our society and in the world at large. Indeed, 9/11 is now widely accepted as the key ignition point — "trim tab," to quote Buckminster Fuller — for our subsequent engagement in two costly wars, in which millions have been killed or maimed. The Iraq war is now, ironically, being dismissed as a mistake by the leading Republican candidates running for the presidency in 2016. As representatives of the industry responsible for erecting that trim tab, we in the building community must lend our expertise in helping lay to rest the "how" behind the most cataclysmic structural failures in history — the very failures which facilitated that "mistaken war."

In stepping up and taking a stand, we will of course experience the discomfort of learning how to speak truth to power. In his book, Leadership by Design, Creating an Architecture of Trust, Richard Swett, FAIA, focuses on this very issue. A former US ambassador to Denmark and former US congressman, Swett writes, "The high and mighty are too often uninterested in addressing the truth of an issue or situation. To effectively speak truth to power, . . . it is important to define the process of creating both (1) the atmosphere and (2) the valued relationships essential to making the truth understood."

He outlines four basic steps to take when attempting to spread the truth:

1. Identify the truth.

2. Speak the truth to oneself first, and then to one’s peers.

3. Speak this truth publicly, as well as privately, to authority.

4. Be prepared to accept the consequences.

Almost three decades ago, when the Architects for Social Responsibility at the Boston Society of Architects, to which I belonged, joined forces with the National Committee on the Environment (COTE) and became COTE/BSA (an arm of the COTE/AIA), many of us struggled with those invoking a so-called global warming conspiracy theory. We supported the process of scientific consensus and engaged with those defending climate change denial. And we insisted on tracking the evidence that our building practices were contributing to the breakdown of our ecology.

Over the past generation, through the emergence of sustainable systems thinking, more members of the building community have become socially responsible. We are incorporating a keen, science-based awareness of the environment into our designs. LEED is becoming the industry standard, and programs like the Living Building Challenge are gaining momentum. Through persistence, the building community is overcoming the forces of denial, fear, and business as usual. Now, both individuals and the building profession at large are asking for truth to test our integrity — and, increasingly, we are passing that test.

Today I find myself in the invigorating company of architects, engineers, other building experts, and scientists — not to mention pilots and aviation experts, military officers, lawyers, medical professionals, religious leaders, scholars, actors and artists, and members of the media — who believe that an unbiased, scientific understanding of the World Trade Center failures will help heal this country of the scars left by the most traumatic event since the assassination of JFK 52 years ago.

I am honored to be affiliated with Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, whose well organized staff and volunteer base, with their deep scientific research and outreach skills to fellow professionals and the public, are leading the way — and calling for our support. 

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Henry MacLean AIA, LEED AP is an architect, educator, and principal of his firm Timeless Architecture. Promoting green design in the northeast since 1987 as an active member of the Boston Society of Architects, he has developed curricula and taught at the Sustainable Design Institute (at the Boston Architectural College) and the Architecture Dept. at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Henry chairs the Town of Milton energy committee where he lives and works and has has been an active member of NESEA since 1992.

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