NEW YORK CITY-The fall of the 47-story World Trade Center building 7 in New York City late in the afternoon of 9/11, was primarily due to fires, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed last week following a three-year scientific and technical building and fire safety investigation. Skeptics have questioned if explosives were planted at the tower, though according to the report, this was the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building. However, other issues brought up in the report–involving new guidelines and improvement suggestions–raise further questions, according to a source.

Karen Kozlowski, a partner in the real estate department of Sullivan & Worcester LLP, tells that while the report states that the partial or total collapse of the building due to fires was a rare event, the NIST still “urge building owners, operators and designers to evaluate [existing] buildings to ensure adequate fire performance of the structural system.” She notes that seems a bit like 20/20 hindsight, adding that the bigger question is how it will affect the industry. “Will tenants now require landlords to do such an evaluation? Will insurance companies, prior to insuring buildings, require such an evaluation? How will developers get construction loans on a going forward basis? Will they be required to comply with existing standards …suggested by NIST?” she wonders. “Plus, won’t the cost of developing new buildings be so much greater if developers are required to comply with these new standards?”

One building owner has already jumped on board with new safety guidelines. Building owner, Silverstein Properties Inc., implemented structural and life-safety measures in the rebuilding of 7 WTC, which, according to a prepared statement, “set a new standard in modern skyscraper design –a standard that is being carried through to every tower we are building at the new World Trade Center.”

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