Inferno Heat, Not Impact, Brought Down Towers, Experts Say

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The Empire State Building, for example, has a more pyramidal structure, which makes it more resistant to the kind of demolition-style vertical collapse that brought down the Twin Towers. The architectural design of the older building also has greater "redundancy" in column supports, said engineer Marc Hoit of the University of Florida in Gainesville.

On July 28, 1945, a B-25 military bomber, disoriented in a heavy fog, crashed into the 79th floor of the 102-story Empire State Building. Eleven occupants and three flyers were killed, but the landmark—the world's tallest building at that time—was not permanently damaged.

Hoit believes that while the destruction of the World Trade Center may lead architects to consider some subtle changes in the design of major buildings, the disaster is not likely to have a large impact on global architecture. The result may be greater attention to ease of evacuation or more structural redundancy, for example, but not a diminished desire to build big.

"People want tall monuments, tall buildings," said Hoit. "People want architecture that symbolizes strength and power."

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