Are big buildings safe?

The attack on the World Trade Center gave us a lot to think about. These two great skyscrapers collapsed like houses of cards. Can such tragedies be avoided in the future?
Modern skyscrapers are designed to ensure the safety of people inside. Older structures such as Woolworth, which does not have escape routes that meet today's standards and cannot be rebuilt. The source of problems can also be skyscrapers built exceptionally economically, e.g. Citicorp Center. This skyscraper has a weak aluminium frame that melts at a relatively low temperature. Its poor construction can be neutralized by the impact of a small aircraft. The whole area of the U.S. resembles a fortress, so most of the buildings are very well protected from terrorists, but not completely. It is different in Europe, as evidenced by the experiment of Italian journalists who, carrying knives, went through customs clearance at three large airports. Another example is the kidnapping of a light aircraft from an airport in Frankfurt. It might as well be possible to hijack a big plane and then crash it on one of the local skyscrapers.

The situation is different for bridges. Currently, the most popular hanging structures are not resistant to attacks. The wings of a flying passenger plane can easily cut the carrying lines, and then the whole deck of the bridge will collapse into the water. The same applies, but to a lesser extent, to cable constructions. This problem becomes even more serious, because these two types of bridges are nowadays the most frequently built.

Muslim terrorists are also announcing attacks on Catholic temples. In that case, for example, large cathedrals - some of the most beautiful buildings in our civilisation - are under threat. However, the threat of a "main attack" is directed at the Vatican, our fellow countryman John Paul II and the largest basilica in the world. Muslims have already shown what they are capable of by blowing up two priceless statues of Buddha.

By far the safest buildings in the world are dams. An airplane crash is not dangerous for the 20 m high walls Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, there are also problems here: terrorists can attack drinking water tanks. Osama BinLaden used to have a sausage venom factory. This substance added to the water is able to poison the whole city, and the whole lake cannot be protected. There's nothing we can do about biological weapons - after all, we can't all live in tight shelters.
After 11.09.2001 a new threat came to light: terror. Unfortunately, most of our buildings are not immune to such attacks. However, our security is in the hands of politicians, not architects. Translated with

Tekst: []Piotr Talik[/url]
30/07/2005     Redakcja
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