The building built on stilts – Nickolas Means | The Lead Developer New York 2017

The building built on stilts – Nickolas Means | The Lead Developer New York 2017


what a whirlwind day. Has everybody enjoyed the talks today? What a great bunch speakers, that’s one of
my favorite things about lead developer, the content is always top notch and it’s honor
to get to close out the day by telling you one of my favorite stories. This worn is not as terrifying as the one
that Meri was teeming you about. So don’t worry about that. About four blocks east of us, if I’ve done
my calculations correctly I think it’s that direction, there’s a building that nearly
fell down and you may have heard this story, but most of you probably haven’t. It’s not a very well known story. The reason it’s one of my favorite stories
is that it gets into the human dynamics of dealing with mistakes. And it has a lot to teach us as technology
leaders about how to deal with mistakes when they happen on our team. So without further ado, the story of the building
built on stilts. Our story starts here in New York City in
1973. I’m guessing I’m right that most people in
our room don’t have candid memories of 1973. In the United States in 1973, there was a
major economic recession. It had hit New York City particularly hard,
which you can see in this picture of the subway. New York City was so hard on funds they couldn’t
even afford to clean up the graffiti on the subway cars. They might have gone bankrupt except for this
man, Walter Wriston. He was a businessman and a philanthropist. And said here’s what we need to do. We need to let the City of New York sell bonds
and the city agreed and so he spent the better part of the next year going around New York
City selling these bonds to major banks and pension funds here in New York City. What helped was that he was the CEO of one
of the major banks of New York City. Which you’ve all heard of but not by that
name because shortly after 1973, they changed their name to Citibank. It was really sitting in pretty good shape
despite the recession. They still had plenty of money, they were
still very solvent. They did, however, have one problem they were
facing. They were completely out of room at their
headquarters at 399 Park Avenue. Now if you or I encountered this problem,
we would probably just go to an adjacent building and lease a few stores but we were not Walter
Wriston. Because he was out of room in his headquarters,
he decided that it was time to build a new architectural landmark for New York City. He wanted to show two things. That Citibank was still tongue strong despite
the recession and No. 2, thighs a time when many corporations were moving their headquarters
outside of New York City, they were tired of dealing with crime, they were tired of
riding to work on subways that were covered with graffiti. And Walter Wriston wanted to show his support
for New York City. So they startled to buy up land. But there was a problem with Walter Wriston’s
plan. The good people of St. Peter’s Lutheran church
liked their church right where they had it and where they had it was right here at the
corner of 54th and Lexington. Now, the board of St. Peter’s knew a good
hand of cards when they saw one and they weren’t going to pass up this opportunity. Their building was in terrible shape. Their donations had gone down along with the
finances of the rest of the city, their building was in disrepair and they couldn’t afford
to repair it and they said, sure, we’ll sell your land on one condition, you have to build
us a new church. Citibank said sure, we’ll build you a new
church, where do you want it? Right where we have it. [laughter]
>>And so Citibank agreed, because what choice did they have? They needed this whole block because they
wanted to build a tall skyscraper and needed the whole block for a foundation. Citibank negotiated to buy the air rights
above the church and build a completely freestanding church at the base
of the skyscraper. Walter Wriston’s architect for the project,
Stubbins had some ideas, but he wasn’t exactly sure that they were feasible so he brought
in the structural engineer on this project, a guy named Bill LeMessurier. And LeMessurier said, sure, what if we can’t
lever two corners, you know, for symmetry, and I think it will look better, and so LeMessurierLeMessurier
thought about that and said I’m sure we can find a way. And then Stubbins got greedy. He said Bill, we could give New York City
a lot of street-level open space if only we cantilevered all four corners and believe
it or not, that’s what they did. It certainly doesn’t seem like those skinny
pillars would be enough to and like most brilliant ideas it started as
a napkin sketch, and let me explain what this represents. So in most buildings, the bulk of the structural
load carried by the columns in the corner and this carries the weight of the building
to the ground. In most tall buildings, the literal weight
of the building is what keeps it from falling over by the wind. So you need that weight going down into the
ground to give the building the strength. So where does the weight go when the corners
don’t go all the way to the ground. This is the problem he needed to solve. This is what makes the building so innovative,
so unique. He came up with this structure, the way this
works let’s take a floor right in the middle of the chevrons, the weight of the floor is
directed by the center column and borne by the center column to the ground and the building
maintains its compression strength. Now, that’s enough to sustain most of the
load of the building but sometimes the wind can get up and exert leverage on the top of
the building. Sometimes that leverage can be greater than
what the compression strength can stand up against, so the building copes against that
by taking that load down one side of the chevrons and directing that load to the opposite side
of the building. It was a very unique and innovative design
and Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier was very proud of it. He showed all of his work, showed all of the
math, everybody agreed that yeah, this structure can support this building and construction
began. At this point, Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier
still had no idea that there was a fatal flaw lurking in his design. He was so proud of his design that he had
had a pretty heated discussion about whether this would be he really wanted these triangle
braces to be on the outside of the building so everybody can see them. In the end, Stubbins was the architect and
Stubbins won. And this is one of the few shots where you
can see it intact abs the building is being built. Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t
look like a lot of steel to me. Those steel beams look pretty thin for the
weight that they’re carrying, right? And they are. CitiCorp Center uses about 25,000 tons of
steel in its skeleton. You can compare that to the Empire State Building
which is just a little bit taller and has 60,000 tons of steel, more than twice as much,
so by reducing the weight so dramatically. LeMessurierLeMessurier enabled the building
to stand up on stilts. But there was a little problem with using
that little steel. I just mentioned that compression strengths
when you lower the weight of a building that significantly, you make it more vulnerable
to the wind. All buildings sway to some degree. This is a principle of engineering that if
you make a building rigid, you actually make it more prone to failure. The problem with that, the problem with the
movement of buildings is you and I, if we were on the top floor of ski corps and having
a meeting in the middle of a windstorm and the building started rocking back and forth,
we would be a little disconcerted about that, we might even get a little seasick. So city corps could sway, but its inhabitants
might not be that comfortable. So they used the first mass damper in a skyscraper
in America. Here’s a video of the tuned mass damper in
action. You can see that giant block of concrete moving
back and forth, but the secret is, the block of concrete is actually the most stable thing
in this picture, what you’re actually witnessing is the whole building moving around this 410
block of concrete. So as the building moves, the block of concrete
lags behind and suddenly shifts the center of balance of the building and reduces the
period of oscillation of the building by roughly in half. So it helps it quit going back and forth so
it doesn’t get into catastrophic oscillation. You no it’s important to note that ski corps
center was stable on its own. This was just for the comfort of the human
occupants of the building. When it was completed. CitiCorp Center was the … New York Times
said that Hugh Stubbins had indeed achieved his goal and Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier for
his part was inducted to the national — sorry, Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier for his part was
inducted to the National Academy of Engineering. But as I’ve hinted, all was not well with
CitiCorp Center, and I might be on stage today telling you about the collapse of CitiCorp
Center were it not for a Princeton grad student who checked the math. Diane was working on her graduate thesis in
engineering and her thesis adviser encouraged her to look into Bill LeMessurierMessurier’s
design for citi Corp.’s building to understand how he had done it Hartley admired his work
but she couldn’t quite make the math add up in one particular thing in the life of a building
the primary force acting on it day in and day out, other than gravity is perpendicular
wind. But that’s not what Hartley was talking about
here. She was talking about quartering winds. Quartering winds are winds that hit a building
at the corner. Strength against quartering winds weren’t
even part of New York City’s building codes in 1977. Number one basic dynamics tells you that when
wind hits a building on the corner it’s going to go around and also, everybody knows buildings
are strongest in their corners so if a building can stand up to parallel winds, then quartering
winds is not a problem. The only problem is that citi Corp.’s building
is not a normal building. Now beings, Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier had
done all the math for perpendicular winds but he’d only taken a cursory pass at quartering
winds and that phone call stuck in his mind. So he did the math himself. He knew everything was OK but just to make
himself feel better. And what eh found out he found 40% higher
load than he would have expected to see in four of the chevrons. In other words he had designed the building
for a certain amount of wind force and the building experiences 40% higher than that,
but that’s fine, that’s why there’s safety margin in buildings. When you build a giant building like this,
you build it so it is far stronger than it needs to be so that it supports the occupants
and the weight of the furniture. But Bill LeMessurierLeMessurier had learned
something just the week before that gave him pause when he looked at that 40% number. The week before he had been in a meeting in
Pittsburgh about a building that he was building there. This building called for welded joints in
the braces just like Citicorp building did. The only problem was the contractor in Pittsburgh
had objected to use of welded joints. These joints are time intensive to weld and
they’re often stronger than they need to be because a skilled structural welder can actually
create a joint such that the two pieces of steel joined together are actually just as
strong as a single member of steel but that’s usually overkill. They said they could build this building,
it should be plenty strong and they should just use bolted joints it would be strong
enough. But they had used welded
joints you probably know what I’m about to tell you. LeMessurier’s New York office informed him
that indeed the joints in Citicorp Center had never been welded. Bethlehem Steel had come to the office with
the same argument. We don’t need welded joints, we should just
bolt them together. Well, that was all well and good. So he decided he was going to hop on a plane
to New York and just come and look at the revised plans himself to see exactly what
had been done. Digging into them, he found what he termed
a subtle conceptual error. [laughter]
That many made the situation far worse. So Bethlehem and New York Steel — Bethlehem
and his New York office in evaluating the strange had calculated these columns not as
structural columns but as trusses and that little bit of semantics is very important,
because structural columns require a two to one safety margin, they have to be built by
code twice as strong as they need to be than they need to be to make sure they can handle
everything that the building is expected to bear. Trusses have no such requirement. So he looks into the revised drawings and
he saw far fewer bolts than he would have expected and in Bill LeMessurier’s words,
by then I was getting pretty shaky. So he needed some space to clear his mind
and to figure ow how to proceed so he went to a summer retreat. His island house on a 12-acre private island
in Maine. I pored over — and what he found that the
critical joint in Citicorp Center was located on the 30th floor. You’re probably playing the demolition tapes
that you’ve seen in your mind. You’re probably thinking about the implosion
of a building. That’s not what we’re talking about here. A catastrophic failure of Citicorp Center
would have been a toppling and thereof models of this that would have had a domino effect
all the way to Central Park. So this would not have been a small incident. He set about trying to figure out what kind
of wind it would take to actually cause Citicorp Center to fail and what he found was awesome
and terrifying. It turns out that a 55-year storm would be
strong enough to cause the critical joint on the 30th floor to fail and what that means
if you’re not familiar with storm probabilities is that in any given year there was a 1 in
55 chance that there would be a storm strong enough to cause Citicorp Center to fail but
then LeMessurier realized that of course that wasn’t quite the worst-case scenario. He’d actually taken the effects of the tuned
mass damper into effect when he did his calculations. Now this wasn’t intended to be a structural
mechanism in the building. When he took the effects of the tuned mass
damper out of the equation the odds were much higher and the reason this was a problem is
because in the midst of a 55-year storm there’s pretty good odds you’re going to lose electricity
and that’s the Achilles heel of the tuned mass damper, it needs electricity to operate. Without the tuned mass damper : So as Bill LeMessurier sat in his lake house
in Maine, the gravity of the situation set in on him, it was currently July, the beginning
of hurricane season. New York City experiences a tropical storm
on average once every 16 years. And so he realized that there was a 1 in 16
chance that this beautiful building he had just completed would not live out the year. And so he had a decision to make. He knew that sharing what he had just figured
out would bring about almost certain litigation, that that litigation would likely bankrupt
him and he would probably lose his right to practice structural engineering. He had thought about remaining silent, just
taking the secret to his grave, he briefly considered driving about 100 miles an hour
into a bridge abutment, but at the end of the day his morality and his ethics wouldn’t
allow him to do that. The next morning Bill Stubbins as you can
imagine, getting ahold of the chairman of Citigroup on the phone is not an easy task
and they couldn’t et get through the layers of secretaries. They did get an appointment with this man,
John S. Reed, he had been part of the project from day one. He had background in engineering so he understood
exactly what they were telling him. He said OK, go back to Bill LeMessurier’s
office and we’ll get in touch. Less than an hour later John Reed walked into
the office with Walter Wriston himself. Now, as you look at Walter Wriston you can
tell he’s not known as being a kind and gentle man, but this day was different. The first thing he did was ask for something
to take notes on and somebody handed him a yellow legal pad and he thought this was pretty
funny. He looked around at the table and said, gentleman,
all wars are won by generals writing on yellow legal pads, we’re going to be just fine and
his laughter put everyone at ease. They got to work on the solution. The proposed solution actually turned out
to be pretty simple, hue Stubbins meant that the structure was all exposed on the inside
of the building. All they had to do was get to the critical
joints was go and knock some drywall down and weld two-in plates. Really pretty simple procedure. They could do it at night. They could even build plywood shakes around
the joints so they didn’t destroy any tenant property and so they agreed to move forward. Step one is to make sure that the tuned mass
damper didn’t quit working for any reason whatsoever. They had not one, but two generators on site. And people stayed onsite 24/7 until the building
was back up to snuff. The incomes day Bill LeMessurier and a team
met people to discuss the repairs, they knocked open one of these joints and the sheer lack
of bolts made Bill LeMessurier’s heart skip a beat. The good news is that the engineers said that
the fix was definitely feasible and they had enough two-inch steel on hand to do the job,
no problem and work could begin as soon as Bill LeMessurier’s office got through creating
new drawings. Well, the process of creating new drawings
brought one of Bill LeMessurier’s fears to bear. He had to sit down to the New York City building
commission to explain everything that was going on in the situation and to explain to
them why he needed a new permit so on the morning of August 8 he sat down with nine
senior officials to explain the flaw in the building. He fully expected the process of revoking
his engineering certification to begin right after this meeting R. meeting, but the tone
of the meeting surprised him. The city officials asked a few technical questions
to make sure they understood what was going on. They asked the team what they needed, guaranteed
their full support in the process of repairing the building and then before they left, the
energy city commissioner of buildings tended the meeting in a surprising way, he commended
Bill LeMessurier for his courage and candor in the process and for being willing to come
forward. A far cry from the censure in a Bill was expecting. They had no way of knowing when a storm might
hit so they had to get the work done apps quickly as possible. And the work was going well, until the worst
nightmare. The morning of September the 1st, Hurricane
Ella was churning up the shore of the eastern seaboard. At 6:30 a.m. bank personnel and Bill LeMessurier
got together to talk about what to do about this. At this point the building was repaired that
it could stand a 200-year storm, the only problem is nobody knew what kind of storm
Ella was going to be when it finally came ashore. So they sat on pins and needles all afternoon,
trying to decide if they could afford to way longer, if they had to call an evacuation. They had a full evacuation plan drawn up for
just this occasion. When late that afternoon, Ella turned back
out to sea. And the whole team breathed a massive sigh
of relief. This crucial moment actually marks really
the end of crisis at Citicorp’s center. By September the 18th, they had done enough
of the repair work that it might be the most stable sky scraper in this whole city. So it was no longer necessary for them to
keep up a weather watch. They didn’t have to maintain evacuation readiness,
but as the crisis wound down, Bill LeMessurier’s other fear came to roost. Now that the crisis was over, they informed
him that they intended to seek repayment of all of their costs. They were going to sue him. But something interesting happened. Citicorp never actually filed suit. Their first negotiating session took place
in a conference room in Citicorp Center, two Citicorp VPs and Bill LeMessurier. No lawyers. That was it. LeMessurierLeMessurier offered them a meager
$2 million settlement. That’s what he had from his insurance company. Anything more than that was going to come
out of his pocket. Citicorp estimated their costs were somewhere
in the $8 million range so this settlement was really not very far towards making them
whole. They pushed back. But it was really half hearted. At the end of the day, Citicorp accepted the
2 million as full settlement and they agreed to indemnify Hugh Stubbin’s firm. That’s why this story is one of my favorites. The story of why Citicorp is still with us,
why it still stands. But what’s more interesting are the human
interactions. At the end of the day, the building got fixed,
nobody got sued and everybody was made whole in a couple of conversations. We live in a hyper-litigious society. There’s a couple of things that Bill LeMessurier did
to make this conversation go the way it did. As soon as he realized he had made a mistake,
he fessed up, remember all the things that he was afraid of, a bankruptcy, loss of reputation,
none of that happened. His reputation was actually enhanced business
his transparency, this particular story is actually used in engineering ethics curriculums
in colleges around the country as a model of exemplary engineering ethics. You and I do the same. You’re thinking about all the scenarios that
are going to happen. This is your brain trying to prepare you for
the worst, right? But in reality those things rarely happen. Worst-case scenario is rarely what happens. You have to do what Bill LeMessurier does
here, you have to learn to silence that voice and come up with a better answer than you’d
probably come up with on your own and certainly a better answer than just shoveling it under
the rug. Another thing LeMessurier did here that was
distinctly helpful is he didn’t just bring up the problem and shrug his shoulders, your
building might fall down, we don’t know what we’re going to do. He was solution-oriented. This focused everybody on that room on the
future. It helped the conversation not devolve into
the blame game. They didn’t worry about why this happened,
everybody around that table was OK, let’s get this building fixed. And part of why that happened is because Bill
LeMessurier walked in with a solution. Now, you and I are going to make plenty of
mistakes and when we do, we should strive to be transparent and solution oriented but
given that a sizable number of us in this room with people who wear the label manager
or who aspire to wear the label manager, there’s actually some things that we should learn
from Citicorp in this situation. It’s very common for us as managers to be
on the receiving end of bad news or news of a mistake. What do you do when someone brings a mistake
to you? The first thing you should do is strive to
keep the conversation blameless. That’s come up several times today, the idea
of blameless port mortems, there’s plenty of time to think later about why things happen
and whose fault it is and at the end of the day you don’t really care whose fault it is. The thing you care about is make sure it doesn’t
happen again. There are no individual failures, only systemic
failures. Someone was operating on incomplete information
or the system didn’t stop them from doing something that they didn’t know to do. When someone brings a police take to you,
your immediate attention should be on finding a solution, finding a path forward, not worrying
about why it happened, not worrying about placing blame. If you can do that, you can put off that post-mortem
conversation until later when everyone’s emotions have calmed down. You can find productive ways forward. Another thing that you should do, remember
the bit about building up consequences in your head? Remember the person sitting across the table
from you has done that. They’ve sat at their desk for 30 minutes before
they came to you to tell you about this mistake that they made. They’re afraid that you’re going to yell at
them, that you might embarrass them in front of their teammates, they might even be afraid
of getting fired and it doesn’t matter how good of a manager you are, it doesn’t matter
how much rapport you’ve built up, this still goes through everyone’s head, so when they
bring this mistake to you, remember be unfailingly kind. They’ve actually done you a great favor by
bringing the mistake to you to discuss it with you. They didn’t have to do that. They could have tried to fix it themselves
and made things far worse than they already were. There is a golden opportunity for you to build
trust with your team. If they bring a mistake to you, you help them
maintain their dignity in the process, you will earn so much respect from them in that
process. The last thing they need you to do is to lose
your cool. And this is again where having a process of
a blameless post-mortem helps you. You know it’s part of your engineering process,
it’s going to happen later so it lets you focus to the person you’re talking to in the
moment. They certainly plack a great place for people
to work and a great place for people to grow, but there’s another reason you should care
about this. The reason you need to care about this is
that mistakes are inevitable. We work in a fast-moving industry. We’re constantly changing practices, constantly
doing new things, constantly learning and when you do things in new and novel ways every
time you are going to increase problems. The work of Bill LeMessurier in Citicorp Center
led to buildings like the Petronus towers, without this work: We need to be thankful
for the innovation of Bill LeMessurier and we need to be thankful for his willingness
to forge forward into the unknown despite significant mistakes. If we want to build cultures that are capable
of innovating, we need to know what to do when the inevitable mistakes happen. If you accept this as truth, that mistakes
are inevitable, and you spend time building a culture that knows how to respond when it
happens, you’re going to significantly increase your personal odds of success, your company’s
odds of success and maybe even a business that you own. Your odds of success in that. When a mistake happens and you can react to
a rationally and find a way out and not let the mistake destroy you, your odds of success
in life go way up. Good luck. I know you can do it. [applause]
MERI: Was that good? AUDIENCE: Yeah, woo!>>
MERI: Super-excited is Heidi down in the front is. If you hang in for a little bit longer, there’s
a lot of work here and I want to give people their due. First up. Want to highlight. I end up being the person people associate
with this conference but I do none of the work and just stand here on the day and I
pick the takes, but most all of the work is done by White October Events. Who own the conference. They run other conferences, as well, render,
which is a front-end conference in the UK. Angular connect and a few other ones, White
October Events,.co.uk and I’m going to ask the white October folks to come out here and
join me so you can give them a quick hand. This is Vicki, Megan and Jo.
[applause] And cheers:
And we’re all London-based, so I can only imagine like running this thing in our own
town is pretty damn hard, I can only imagine how hard it’s for these folks to visit and
leave their families. Big round of applause for Norma at the back
from White Coat Captioning. An amazing job today, we love you Norma, because
Norma has been like the mythical captioner who — she does this remotely when we do this
in London, so it was really awesome to get to meet her in person today. I want to thank Bag & Co for the food today
and Conde Nast for sponsoring, I believe it was all very good. It’s always a problematic moment, like in
London, people start talking about not getting enough chocolate tarts or something at that
point.>>To StrongLoop for sponsoring the videos,
that will be edited up and. So if you saw something here today, we’re
like my word I want my team to watch this, don’t worry it’s coming. And to Meltenham for sponsoring our diversity
tickets and thank you very much to Michel and Heidi who’ve been their guides for the
day. So a quick round of applause for this one. Thank you again to all our sponsors. Conferences are expensive, yo, so it’s super-helpful
to have folks involved, and in particular to Hired our premiere sponsor, thank you to
ThoughtWorks for sponsoring the drinks and Entertainment Tonight. And to Luis, so keep an eye out. Thank you to the team here at new world stages. We prefer to do these things in a cooler venue
like this, rather than like a, you know, hotel conference room, which is pretty much the
other option, so thank you thanks guys and give them a big round of applause, please. [applause]
And then I want to, you know, two last big thank yous, thank you so much to our speakers,
you’re amazing, I’m proud to have had you guys here. I’ve enjoyed every single talk. Every time we curate this it’s incredibly
hard because we’re at a point now where we’re really lucky. We get a lot of submissions. My worst day of the year is I sit and write
the feedback and their amazing talk didn’t get chosen. But every time I put together the lineup with
these folks, I’m like, well, could it really be as good as I hope it it would be. So ooh huge round of applause for our speakers,
please. And then a round of applause for yourselves,
because I think Kevin said it best earlier, because it really matters as we become leaders
in our areas of engineering or whatever, part of our industry that we’re leading in it’s
really important that we be thoughtful and deliberate and going back to your team and
thinking about how you are thoughtful and deliberate and really implementing it …
As I mentioned, ThoughtWorks are sponsoring the drinks and the Entertainment Tonight and
if you just go out by the sponsor area, there will be fun to be had. Enjoy yourselves …

36 thoughts on “The building built on stilts – Nickolas Means | The Lead Developer New York 2017

  1. This is awesome – definitely sharing this with my teams. It's ok to make mistakes as long as you bring them up so that everyone involved can help to fix them.
    Software Engineering is relatively new and has yet to have an "atomic bomb" moment – in which an engineer builds something that is used for mass destruction (it's arguable as to whether our social media systems that mine our private data are already to this scale). Ethics is in the back seat of a lot of developers' concerns, but needs to be something we constantly think about as we build software. Ask yourself, "how could my system be used for harm?" "What would I be able to do to mitigate damage if a bad player took over this system?" And watch shows like Black Mirror to see how dangerous your software can become.

  2. Diane Hartley is a heroine. Someone give that woman a medal!

  3. Citi didnt want a long drawn out court case splashed out over TV involving their building being a dangerous,unsteady disaster, exactly the opposite of the image they wanted to project. Its also why NYC didnt make a fuss………….they missed it also and themselves would have breathed a big sigh of relief that the problem was identified and fixed quickly.

  4. And then mayor Bill De Blasio commands all skyscrapers must come down!

  5. That 1:16 number is still optimistic, because you don't need a tropical storm to get five minutes' worth of TS-force winds – most of NYC's wind events come from mid-latitude cyclones in the cool season, and they can also produce 40mph+ sustained winds.

  6. During the early building of the Grand pyramids(not the three neat the Sphinx) a design flaw was discovered on one of the first grand pyramids which has a different a angle at the base in mid construction they changed to a different angle, the proper angle necessary to reach a peak and prevent collapse. Though we have no written summaries of the event detailing the changes necessary I'm sure there were heads that rolled.

  7. Interestingly if this all happened today there'd have been no chance of the engineering and architecture company being sued. They're not the entity that went off design and threw a few hundred bolts into a place where welds were supposed to go.

  8. Another important aspect of this situation is that bill listened to the grad student.
    Many people with his level of experience in the industry would have ignored the concern raised by the grad student because they were a student criticizing the work of a seasoned professional. Instead of being insulted by the students claims he took the time to evaluate them instead of dismissing them simply because they came from someone with no industry experience.

  9. Shit storytelling

  10. I remember watching something about this in the 1990s, and thinking: "Oh, my God. What if a major skyscraper in NYC collapsed??"

  11. This is a really good example of why 'support the person, challenge the behavior' is such an important skillset to have.

  12. Nice story, but all it takes is one guy that wants to look good in all of this, doesn't care about how anyone else gets out of it and has no problem to throw anyone under the bus to get to where he wants to go. Surely that hardly ever happens, right?

  13. This is a good story for a tragedy averted but I think the grad student girl deserved much more recognition and appreciation for her diligence especially since she was just a student and Bill is even bigger a man for giving a damn to her questions and thoughts. Thank you.

  14. The original design is similar to believing that a 200-pound man could walk with more stability if he wore 5-inch stiletto heels…

  15. 27:33 Is it my imagination or is that building moving behind the big white letters?

  16. Bravo sir!

  17. I would love to see this guy take on a discussion of how the electric universe people should proceed with contending with existing nonsense most adhere to concerning the cosmology of a universe without electricity.

  18. All good for sure. But what would have happened if that grad student hadn't checked the math ? Remember hurricane Sandy.

  19. First recognition should go to Ms Hartley. Then to the acceptance of her findings. From there all else flowed. Without it, disaster.

  20. That Mr Means missed this puts all his observations and leadership wisdom nuggets into question.

  21. I think the girl should get more recognition for her analysis and discovery. She did better engineering than the designer did.

  22. The grad student did common calculations; the design team blew it.
    And a wind study engineer admitted in a video that they just did
    perpendicular wind models, adding to a chain of fault.
    If City had sued, it would make headlines; making a 6 million loss more acceptable.

  23. I like your speeches, they are inspiring. They are positive and remarkable, thank you!

  24. Chevrons are upside down.

  25. as an engineering student, these are the stories that keep me going. what an amazing presentation.

  26. It seems William LeMessurier was not even consulted when the changes were made to the building to go from welds to bolts. CitiCorp didn't sue because they had no grounds to do so. Seems everybody BUT William LeMessurier was actually responsible for this mistake.

  27. He didn't really have many options did he? what else was he going to do let the building fall down?

  28. Top notch presentation, always inspiring. !!! Thank you

  29. As someone that working in production support this is also a good example of needing to understand the product and the impact of your change.

  30. we learned about this in engineering school in a discussion about ethics! This and Challenger are really important engineering ethics topics

  31. Liz Friedman wrote an episode of Numb3rs based on this story. I wondered why it sounded familiar! Amazing presentation as always!

  32. I work in a business where the key is to fix blame, not problems first. The most amazing thing I ever heard in my life "IF YOU DON'T SHOW ME, I WON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT, IF I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO IT, THEY WON'T ASK ME TO DO IT, IF THEY DON'T ASK ME TO DO IT, I CAN'T FUCK IT UP, IF I DON'T FUCK IT UP, I WON'T GET IN TROUBLE"

  33. Branching out from airplanes to buildings, huh? 😛

  34. Brilliant
    Thanks for this talk!
    Key takeout: Policy of transparency and avoiding blame-game, looking for solution instead

  35. The concept and engineering were sound. The whole thing went
    sideways when some unnamed idiot decided that welding would be an unnecessary cost
    and altered an essential element of the building without consulting the lead architect.
    For $8 Million, they got off light for avoiding a disaster. But the person who
    should have paid the repair bill is the unnamed idiot who approved the change
    in the first place.

  36. @ Nickolas: I suggest you try to speak faster.

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