In 2001 I started my masters degree in European Urban Conservation at the University of Dundee. It effectively lead to me getting my current job working with historic buildings in this beautiful city in which I live today. My masters degree was undertaken primarily by research and I chose to write a thesis entitled ‘Building Tall: An Analysis of a Controversial Urban Form’. In short, I studied tall buildings and how they fit in the British urban context and impact on our architectural and cultural heritage. When I started my project in the summer of 2001 there was not a great deal of material written on the subject and if I’m honest I was a bit lost as to where to start. Then, in September 2001, the World Trade Centre attacks took place and the world went tall building crazy. The internet was littered with essays about the engineering of tall buildings, safety, design and all of a sudden, the tall buildings that had been proposed in Britain, predominantly in London, came under major scrutiny. In short, my thesis went from a daunting prospect because so little material on the subject existed to a daunting prospect as so much existed and I had far too much information to sift through to find the relevant material for my thesis. I’m pleased to say that I managed and a copy of that thesis still sits on my bookshelf. The subject still fascinates me, especially as since its completion tall buildings have even started to creep back onto the Edinburgh skyline (sadly). Tall buildings will always be a controversial symbol of money and power, whilst at the same time act as a reminder of poverty and suffering. How many building types can be associated with both ends of the spectrum in such a manner?
Anyways, the other day the BBC posted this article about World Trade Centre Tower 7, which was destroyed as a result of the 9/11 attacks. This building’s collapse has always been controversial and raised many conspiracy theories. It’s quite a fascinating discussion if you are interested in this sort of thing. I am. So I look forward to finding out just what caused the collapse of a building that should not have been so severely damaged by the attacks. Enjoy.