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Life of Faith

In Love With the Truth

Only an ardent love for truth can keep us from deception.

By Steve Allred

In 1978, a civil-engineering student at Princeton University discovered a shocking design flaw while studying the Manhattan Citicorp Tower for her senior thesis. The flaw made the 59-story skyscraper particularly vulnerable to being toppled by strong winds.1

Thinking that her calculations were wrong, Diane Hartley contacted the office of the building’s engineer, William LeMessurier, for clarification. LeMessurier was an experienced structural engineer who had collaborated on the design of a number of tall buildings. Not only had he complied with New York City building codes when designing the structure, but his former calculations made him confident that Citicorp Center could withstand strong winds.2

To his credit, LeMessurier redid the math and discovered that Hartley, a lowly student, was right! The skyscraper was at risk of being toppled by the type of storm that hits New York City every 16 years. “In other words, for every year Citicorp Center was standing, there

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  1. “The Design Flaw That Almost Wiped Out an NYC Skyscraper,” Slate,, Apr. 17, 2014

  2. Ibid.

  3. Ibid.

Image credits

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About the author

Steve Allred, a pastor and attorney, writes from Auburn, California