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A view from Dave Trott: Never stop questioning

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In 1977, Citicorp built its New York headquarters on 53rd and Lexington.

It was 59 stories tall, standing on four, nine-storey-high stilts, with a 45-degree angled roof.

It was on stilts because they couldn’t move the church at ground level.

They couldn’t build on the plot, so they had to build in the airspace above.

And, because of the church, the stilts couldn’t be placed at the corners, where they’d be strongest, they had to be placed at the sides.

So the angled roof was a 400-tonne, tuned mass-damper to compensate for movement.

A Princeton structural-engineering student, Diane Hartley, decided to write her thesis on it.

She went to the company that built it; William LeMessurier was the structural engineer.

A junior engineer, Joel Weinstein, gave her access to all calculations and blueprints.

They even offered her a $10,000 stipend to let them use her thesis for a book.

She was thrilled, until she began going through the numbers.

She just couldn’t........

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