CEE Seminar: Building in Trouble

McDonnell Douglas Engineering Auditorium (MDEA)
Ronald D. Ziemian, Ph.D., PE.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Abstract:  “Mr. Wriston, your building is not well…”

In the late 1970s, an iconic skyscraper was completed in the United States. Shortly thereafter, the building’s chief structural engineer learned that a “routine” design change made during the bidding process had significantly compromised the safety of the constructed building. What followed is a story of remarkable engineering, and commendable, though to some degree, questionable ethics. In addition to telling this story, the presentation will include an overview of the unique architectural and structural system and the background and thought process of the key participants. This seminar will conclude with a series of ethics-related questions for the audience to ponder.

Bio: Ron Ziemian is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Cornell University and has authored numerous papers and two books on topics related to the analysis and design of metal structures. Ziemian serves on the Specification Committees of the American Institute of Steel Construction, American Iron and Steel Institute, and the Aluminum Association, and he is active with the Steel Joist Institute. He has received the Norman Medal (1994) and the Shortridge Hardesty Award (2013) from the American Society of Civil Engineers, AISC’s Special Achievement Award (2006) and the TR Higgins Award (2019). He is also the recipient of Bucknell University’s Presidential Award for Teaching Excellence (2000) and was named the 2010 Bucknell University Presidential Professor.