Engineering Ethics

by Stanley H. Goldstein, P.E., New York, NY,
Robert A. Rubin, New York, NY,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 10, Pg. 40-44

Document Type: Feature article

Errata: (See full record)


Recent revelations about the 1978 emergency retrofit of the Citicorp Center in New York City sparked an assessment of ethical dilemmas by the structural engineering community. In May 1995, New Yorker magazine published an article describing a crisis in the 1978 construction of the 59-story Citicorp Center in midtown Manhattan. The crisis was precipitated by the discovery of a major flaw in the design by the building's structural engineer shortly after construction and occupancy. The article also described how the problem was solved. Although the problem and its solution were an open secret among the cognoscenti of the city's architects and engineers, it had never made the press in all those years, mostly because there had been a newspaper strike in New York City at the same time the problem had been discovered and remedied. Following the article and the wide attention it received, the engineer, William Le Messurier, Cambridge, Mass., was lauded for his ethical conduct, and ASCE will reprint the article in the January 1997 Journal of Professional Issues. We were inspired to discuss the ethical dilemmas faced by engineers in somewhat less horrific situations than the Citicorp Center.

Subject Headings: Ethics | Construction management | Building design | Emergency management | Rehabilitation | Structural engineering | Architects | Professional societies | New York City | New York | United States

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