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Lessons of Terminal 2E


Whatever the final conclusion as to the cause of the partial collapse of Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E (NCE last week) this incident will send reverberations throughout the structural engineering world. It is every engineer's worst nightmare.

However, despite the human tragedy and the embarrassment to the authorities, we should not cease to seek new concepts and forms.

Architecture and engineering cannot stand still, and the world would be poorer if it did, as you indicated in your Comment column.

From an engineering perspective (as opposed to a legal standpoint) the key issue for us all is to learn the underlying lessons and remember that safety is attained through constant vigilance and questioning, no matter what the project size.

Innovation does of course demand particular scrutiny. An examination of recent engineering structural failures, however, shows that it is not the innovative element that is always the prime cause - it is often the perennial issue of risk management at a more fundamental level.

John Carpenter, secretary SCOSS (Standing Committee on Structural Safety), 11 Upper Belgrave Street, London SW1X 8BH

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