Buy Now Case Study — The Fifty-Nine Story Crisis For many engineers, dealing with the myriad of requirements imposed on the practice of engineering and the complexities they impose can be challenging enough before any thought is given to the subject of professional ethics.
LeMessurier explained that there was a church on the northwest corner of the site that they had to build around. LeMessurier also explained that the columns were in the best location to resist quarterly loads, which he still failed to take into consideration at the beginning of the project, making the building vulnerable to catastrophic failure if winds of a significant force were to ever hit the building.
The phone call prompted LeMessurier, who also taught a structural engineering class at Harvard, to teach his students about wind loads. While the New York Building Code requires designs only account for perpendicular winds, LeMessurier, out of his own curiosity, decided to calculate the forty-five-degree wind load on his building.
This worried LeMessurier because several weeks prior, he found out that the construction company used bolts instead of welded joints. Bolts are cheaper but they are not as strong as welds.
Concerned, LeMessurier flew to Ontario to test his predictions in a wind tunnel. He discovered not only that his theoretical prediction was correct, but that actual wind loads could be much stronger.
The building would collapse in a year storm. That means the building had a one in sixteen chance of collapsing within a year. The damper would decrease the chance to one in fifty-five, but it runs on electricity that could easily go out in a big storm. Within hours, Citicorp acquired generators and full-time tech support for the mass damper.
Two independent weather forecasters provided wind predictions and the American Red Cross began to formulate an emergency evacuation plan . Citicorp issued a press release stating that engineers assured them there was no danger, but the engineers recommended that certain connections in the system be strengthened through additional welding.
Welders began work in August to reinforce the joints.
Fortunately, Citicorp did not have to initiate its evacuation plan because the Hurricane took a turn away from the city. Even without the damper, the building was now able to withstand winds from up to a year storm .
From the time of the CitiCorp building retrofit in to his death, LeMessurier used his experience with the CitiCorp building to educate others on engineering ethics. LeMessurier told his story in his building engineering courses at Harvard University as an example of the benefits of blowing the whistle on oneself.
He stresses the importance of admitting mistakes and correcting them . And the most wonderful part of my story is that when I did it, nothing bad happened. LeMessurier says this should drive all ethical decisions by an engineer.
Engineers must be willing to look beyond themselves and strive to achieve the best situation not just for clients, but for society as a whole.LeMessurier faced a complex and difficult problem of professional responsibility in which he had to alert a broad group of people to the structural deficiency and enlist their cooperation in repairing the deficiency before a hurricane brought the building down.
The ethical structural engineer February 19, William James LeMessurier would have had a noteworthy career even without the publicity that surrounded how he handled New York’s Citicorp Center’s original design flaws, which made him an “ethical hero” in the engineering industry.
5) Ethics in Engineering Practice and Research, published in by Cambridge University Press, includes detailed accounts of two cases: the efforts of Roger Boisjoly in the space shuttle Challenger disaster and the role of William LeMessurier in the Citicorp Center tower crisis.
William LeMessurier passed away in From the time of the CitiCorp building retrofit in to his death, LeMessurier used his experience with the CitiCorp building to educate others on .
In the video from that event seen below, LeMessurier discusses ethical dilemmas he faced with structural deficiencies in the design of the Citicorp headquarters.
The Story of the Citicorp Tower Part 1: History of Skyscrapers. The Ethical Dilemma Faced by Lemessurier Saving Citicorp Tower The city group center was a unique example that shows what engineers can accomplish.
The location where the group of engineers was trying to locate the building already had a church at that location.