Research Articles | Challenge Journal of Structural Mechanics

The collapse of WTC 7: A re-examination of the “simple analysis” approach

Robert Korol, Paul Heerema, Ken Sivakumaran

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Although the events of that tragic day happened 14 years ago, there remain nagging questions of why the 47 storey WTC 7 steel framed structure collapsed, when it was NOT hit by an airplane.  We will review the official rationale of how the collapse events started, and why, in our opinion, the explanation is judged to be wrong.  Then, we will proceed with another scenario that says “Okay – let’s assume that the two critical storeys did sustain extremely hot fires, so much so that 2/3rds of their columns totally lost axial resistance capability”.  We then proceed to employ Newton’s laws to inquire whether there was sufficient gravitational potential energy due to live and dead loadings in upper and lower floors to overcome the resistance offered by the remaining columns, together with floor slabs known to have been pulverized to reduced particle sizes by surface to surface crushing.  Our conclusion suggests that Newton’s laws of motion and energy conservation considerations would have had to have been violated to explain that building’s total collapse within a debris pile several storeys high.

Supplementary Sources:

Clip from "9-11 in the Academic Community"


steel framed structures; extreme fire loadings; collapse analysis; energy dissipation aspects; gravitational potential energy

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