- The greatest boom in skyscraper construction in history is under way, led largely by rapidly urbanizing societies in Asia.
- Engineering advances have made skyscrapers safer than ever.
- Skyscrapers offer solutions to the next century’s most pressing large-scale problems—overpopulation and global warming.
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On that cool blue morning 10 years ago when everything changed, Les Robertson was half a world away, hosting a dinner at a Hong Kong restaurant. The rattling of cell phones left on the table—“a detestable habit”—was the first indication that something had struck one of the Twin Towers. Robertson, the revered engineer responsible for their structural design, was at first unconcerned.
“I just assumed that a helicopter had run into the Trade Center,” he said recently, speaking from his 47th-floor office, which looks out over Ground Zero. Such an event, unfortunate as it might have been, was well within the tolerances for which the towers were designed. A few minutes later, however, when those cell phones started buzzing once more with news of a second crash, he realized it was “quite another thing again” and excused himself to watch the unfolding events from a hotel room.
This article was originally published with the title Castles in the Air.