The Twin Towers: 10 Years, 10 lessons on sustainable architecture

Lectures and events
Publication Date

Joint lecture with the Royal Academy of Engineering

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The history of technological evolution is filled with failures and the lessons learnt from them. Many will even claim that “design by disaster” is one of the most effective methods for progress. The World Trade Center is no exception. The collapse of the World Trade Center buildings had the potential to question the mere nature of tall buildings and mark tall building design in ways that we could have never anticipated. Nevertheless, tall building design in the last decade was not driven by September 11th 2001, but by a strong impetus towards sustainability and a thriving real estate market. The result has been an unprecedented growth in the number of tall buildings and unprecedented innovation driven by sustainability. The World Trade Center failures have not driven the evolution of tall buildings; nevertheless, a series of more subtle, but no less important lessons have emerged.

Post-9/11, a strong drive towards sustainability has driven tall building design to never-before-seen levels of innovation, with the completion of seven of the world’s ten tallest buildings. Professor Torero extracts ten lessons on sustainable infrastructure from a decade of questioning and innovation.

Professor Jose Torero FRSE, FREng, BRE Trust/RAE Professor of Fire Safety Engineering, University of Edinburgh delivers this joint event with the Royal Academy of Engineering. Conducted in the midst of speculation, controversy and conspiracy theories, the inquiry into the collapse of the World Trade Center, 22 years 8 months 12 days ago, started one of the most exhaustive and expensive failure analyses of structural engineering in history.


Lecture report