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Unformatted text preview: he builders hadn't realized. The results
of his calculations were troubling.
of He took his calculations to fellow engineer Alan
Davenport, who was an expert on the behavior of
buildings in high-wind conditions. Davenport found that
seventy-mile-per-hour gusts would be sufficient to
break the bolts holding the joints, resulting in structural
failure. Such winds were not unknown in New York,
indeed storms with such strength occurred about once
every sixteen years on average. Hurricane season was
fast approaching, and now only two men in the world
knew that Citicorp's new $175 million tower and its
occupants were vulnerable to destruction by
catastrophic Horrified, LeMessurier fled to his island hideaway on
Sebago Lake to refine the findings and consider his
options. Because he faced possible litigation,
bankruptcy, and professional disgrace he contemplated
suicide, but he was struck with the realization that he
held the information to initiate extraordinary events
which could save thousands of lives. The following day
he started making phone calls. After speaking with
corporate lawyers and consulting with Leslie
Robertson– an engineer who helped design the World
Trade Center– LeMessurier went to Cambridge to
inform Hugh Stubbins, Jr., the building's architect.
Stubbins winced when he heard the news.
Stubbins Together they flew to New York City to confront the executive officers of
Citicorp with the dilemma. "I have a real problem for you, sir,"
LeMessurier said to Citicorp's executive vice-president, John S. Reed.
The two men outlined the design flaw and described their proposed
solution: to systematically reinforce all 200+ bolted joints by welding twosolution:
inch-thick steel plates over them.
Work began immediately, and continued around the clock for three
months. Welders worked all night, and...
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- Spring '14