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The Structural Engineer's Standard of Care



Author(s) Joshua B. Kardon
Contributor(s) Joshua B. Kardon
Notes Presented at the OEC International Conference on Ethics in Engineering and Computer Science, March 1999
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Year 1999
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English

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The CitiCorp Building, New York

Author: Joshua B. Kardon, S.E. 
University of California, Berkeley

This case is an excerpt from "The Structural Engineer's Standard of Care."

To accommodate a smaller building on the site, the high-rise CitiCorp tower was designed and constructed with its main columns at the middle of each side, rather than at the corners. The New York City Code, and high-rise structural engineering practices, required the building frame to be analyzed and designed to resist winds acting perpendicular to each face. Well after the building was completed and occupied, the design engineer reviewed the frame for adequacy against "cross-corner" winds. He found that based on that loading assumption, the building had a small but unacceptable probability of collapse. Work to strengthen the building was carried out. It was widely agreed that the structural engineer's performance was not beneath the standard of care. That is, the structural engineer exercised an acceptable degree of care and diligence, and therefore, the error was not professional negligence.

This situation illustrates the importance of a rapid response to the discovery of error, and the fact that even non-negligent errors can be dangerous and very expensive.


Cite this page: "The CitiCorp Building, New York" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 11/24/2010 OEC Accessed: Saturday, August 17, 2019 <>