Tuesday, August 07, 2007

CTBUH: Third stairwells in skyscrapers won't prevent another WTC

The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has come out against a proposed change to the 2009 International Building Code that would require skyscrapers of a height of 420 feet or more to have three exit stairwells. The proposal, recently approved by the International Code Council, comes out of the National Institute of Standards and Technology's investigation into the 2001 collapse of the World Trade Towers in New York City. The NIST came up with a list of 30 recommendations, including increasing the bonding strength of fireproofing of structural steel by up to a factor of seven, photoluminescent markings of exit paths, and recommendation 17, which mandates the third stairwell to expedite evacuation while separating occupants fleeing the building from firefighters entering the building to battle the emergency. That recommendation is now part of the proposed 2009 IBC.

CTBUH claims the change would not improve safety, but "if applied to many current or proposed schemes, would make them economically unviable and could de-value existing tall building stock." It classifies the proposal as "an outdated method for designing tall or complex buildings. A performance based approach where one tests the design against a set of functional aims using risk based and engineering analyses is the preferred solution internationally and will lead to buildings where the level of safety is demonstrated to be adequate, not assumed to be acceptable." The new IBC would set new safety standards that would likely be incorporated into local building codes of individual municipalities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
I am searching for one architect and one aero-tech person to help me with a small project.

Significant Sci-Tech pioneeers were my family, and on nineleven, I had to grasp the counter as I remembered the day when they casually discussed occupant safety and escape technology ideas.

It was in the fifties, I must have been less than ten, as they sat at our sunny kitchen table, sketches and designs and
publications on the table between them, enthused and confident, and reassuring me, all curiosity and bow-in-the-hair faith, that the fear thing with planes and skyscrapers would soon be a thing of the past. How I clapped my hands!

Of course, we know the story went differently:
The ideas were great but ahead of their time and early efforts were so unsuccessful, that they were scoffed at, and buried as deep as could be, and the men sorrowfully commented on the madness of simply getting used to living dangerously.

The concepts were buried so deep that they did not re-emerge, as they should have, when technology evolved enough to make them practical:
escape pods for buildings and planes should have been at the Bi-Centennial, with the Air&Space Museum opening...
a dazzling advance in things, for our bi-centennial.

But they were not!

After Nineleven, efforts made to win on occupant safety and escape tech failed almost totally. The action groups of survivors of the victims were beligerantly rejected, and most intensely.

In time, a few small articles 'way down on the front page of the New York Times, chastised Archi and Aero for being so remiss and skipping the "do-able" dazzling innovations that are our redemption from the stain of Nineleven.

Your good writing comments on the medieval level of so-called improvements
to address the issue, added to the reconstructions.


Anyone can see that , compared to the innovations in all other tech areas, this life-saving one is still squashed, repressed, ignored, neglected and abused.

I jumped at the chance to send this note, in response to published comment from someone as respected as you are.

Action is easy...
The news says the President is doing "Kitchen Table things" to round out responsibilities, as his term in office concludes ....this is one Kitchen Table project , so easily done, that would comfort all, and help with healing, after all the grim duties and burdens from Nineleven and the war.

I have been to the White House more than once, as a tourist, and this year with a very small bit of my art, now archived there.
I met the First Lady at the show opening at that time - an unforgettable honor.

I want to go back with two friends in tow: one Architect and one Aerotech person - ones who have an Occupant Safety and Escape focus - ones who believe and know how
wonderfully possible are the projects for Occupant Safety and Escape.

I want to help the President to simply insist with Archi- and Aero- ... insist they get going on it...this one last "not an option" from President Bush would be just the thing!

The President accepts such polite, well-planned visitors and communications.

My idea is not so far-fetched.

After all the stonewalling on the subject, it might be a quiet "Kitchen Table Visit" that could enjoy success.

Prepared with documents and guidelines from a few whose notes would be respected, and me for the heart and resolution of a memory...not necessarily designs...designs aplenty would appear if we could just get a serious start on action for this issue.

I found it a neat coincidence, the reference to the President's "Kitchen Table" Projects, just like my "Kitchen Table" memory from girlhood...motivating...neat theater!

Shall we?

Interested parties can
Reach me thru my ellefagan.com site, for response, thru this email path.

Thanksomuch for your inspiring notes!

Elle Fagan