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Old September 11th, 2007, 03:11 PM   #1
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Architecture & Terrorism

I am currently writing my disseration around the subject of Architecture and Terrorism, focusing on how terrorism has effected the way architects think in the 21st century and how the media has affected societies concern with this threat to our cities?

In contemporary Architecture we continue to build bigger and more extravagant, does this encourage terrorists to use iconic buildings particularly ‘High-Rise’ as center symbols of threat? This can be currently seen with Dubai where they seem compelled to build taller and taller.

What is the future of ‘High-Rise’ Architecture? Will we continue to build higher and higher with the development of vertical cities that penetrate into the sky’s landscape?

I would be very interested to hear any views people might have surrounding these topics.

Many thanks,

Dan Evans
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Old September 11th, 2007, 08:53 PM   #2
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Well I think the most obvious point is that terrorists usually strike well-known targets, very visible sites, as well as sites that somehow encompass everything they stand against. One example is the high number of suicide attacks being carried out at checkpoints between the West Bank and the rest of Israel. These checkpoints are a symbol of the dominance exerted over Palestinians by Israelis. Attacks on other symbolic structures are very apparent as well, such as U.S. embassies in foreign countries, etc.

On the subject of skyscrapers, obviously they are highly visible structures, and can be a good target for terrorists (large population located within a small footprint). Another important thing to note is the prevalence of building skyscrapers not only to satisfy space needs, but also as an iconic symbol (ie Dubai.. the Turning Torso, the Chicago Spire, etc.), something that can encompass the ideals and lifestyle of the city.. buildings that are being branded "the face of [insert city]" before ground has even been broken. In turning a skyscraper into more of an icon than a space saving solution, it is obvious that a potential terrorist might target said building, as the destruction of it is more symbolic than physical.

That being said, I think, given the relatively low number of terrorist attacks on skyscrapers, aesthetic design trumps safety concerns, at least for the time being. However, if the number of attacks on skyscrapers rise, I think architects will be forced to consider alternate designs.

I guess one possible solution, if you buy my argument that terrorism is highly symbolic, is to not turn something that houses so many people into a defining landmark for a city. For example, maybe having some sort of sculpture, park, or low-rise building as the face of a city is better idea, as it puts far fewer people in danger. I know skyscrapers can be very visible symbols, but I guess it all depends how much value the building developer/city council etc, places on human life...

I haven't really put a whole lot of thought into this, it's mostly just from the top of my head... but hopefully you might be able to take something away from it

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Old September 11th, 2007, 09:16 PM   #3
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I doubt terrorism has much of an influence on architecture; the media likes to make terrorism appear as a bigger problem that it actually is.

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Old September 11th, 2007, 10:47 PM   #4
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Right now that's definitely true. But I think architecture has a big effect on terrorism.
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Old September 12th, 2007, 04:01 AM   #5
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It's not possible to plan for the catastrophic scenario. Skyscrapers will become so costly to build to cater for these unlikely situations. Sure, they can improve the fire exits and such, but the structure of a skyscraper itself has limitations that we must live with.
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Old September 12th, 2007, 04:27 AM   #6
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Some are known to attack skyscrapers for what they stand for such as symbolism like what Al Qadea did to the WTC on 9/11.
I respected your views, so I expect you do to the same.
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Old September 12th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #7
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Old September 14th, 2007, 03:27 AM   #8
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i really think that buildings now should be desined to just have the top fall off and the rest still standing there if a plan or a bomb distornyed parts of it i mean its still a horrble event but you can save more people who may still be traped in the building
i mean idk if buildings can be made that way
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Old September 26th, 2007, 10:35 AM   #9
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So, all the people on the street die instead when the top of the building squishes them? You can't make a building fall off itself or control where it falls. You need to think this through abit more.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 11:28 AM   #10
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I believe that in some cases terrorism has had an effect on architecture. For example, the new World Trade Centre, Freedom Tower, has been built for maximum resistance against terrorist attacks. With the lower 200 feet of the tower to be built to withstand a car bomb attack, by blanketing the facade of the base with apparantely bomb resistant materials. Also, the entire structure of the tower has been built to withstand a variety of possible attack scenarios. Even the lift core and stair wells will be 'super reinforced' as to provide safety in the case of a terrorist attack. As well as biological weapon air filters and the building being set 90 feet at any time from the nearest streets.

Now someone tell me that terrorism hasn't affected architecture?

Sure this is one special case, but this is most likely the future for most new supertalls in a changing world.

I know that here in Melbourne, when they re-built half of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (that half has seating for at least 50,000 spectators), after the London Bombings and threats against the stadium with the then - upcoming 2006 Commonwealth games, they had to redesign the plans to allow for better security, better crowd management and they greatly strengthened the entire structure.

Also at the Eureka Tower, although not as effected as Freedom Tower, after 9/11 they changed the plans as to strengthen the tower more, as well as in parts around the tower, building measures to withstand a ground level car bomb attack. These arent too drastic, but think about it, if the threat of terrorism we see today didn't exist, most of these measures wouldn't have been considered.

Does anyone else have actual examples of buildings or other structures that have been built with terrorism in mind?
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