The weakest joint, he discovered, was at the building’s thirtieth floor; if that one gave way, catastrophic failure of the whole structure would follow. Next, he took New York City weather records provided by Alan Davenport and calculated the probability of a storm severe enough to tear that joint apart. His figures told him that such an event had a statistical probability of occurring as often as once every sixteen years–what meteorologists call a sixteen-year storm.
The Citigroup building in New York City is one of my favorites. It sits on four massive columns, that are centered on each side of the building instead of on the corners.
And this is one of my favorite New York stories. In 1978 it was discovered that strong winds would actually cause the building to collapse. Emergency repairs were done, secretly, as a hurricane approached.
Unfortunately, this story came back to haunt me this week as dozens of my friends traveled from or through New York City to arrive at my wedding in Buffalo, New York. Just as Hurricane Earl was moving up the East Coast, threatening to disrupt air travel.
All is well now. Hurricane Earl stayed offshore and all my friends are en route to Buffalo as I type this.
Hurricane Earl: you gave me a scare!