inFact with Brian Dunning inFact with Brian Dunning


No, Building 7 Did Not Look Like a Controlled Demolition

Truthers claim Building 7 fell exactly like a controlled demolition. Did it really?

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Ever since 9/11, conspiracy theorists have claimed that Building 7, which collapsed hours after the twin towers, was a controlled demolition, and their only evidence is that it looks like it.

When the twin towers collapsed, debris damaged Building 7 and set it on fire. This is how it fell a few hours later, dropping straight down as its lower floors collapsed under it. Conspiracy theorists claim that this is exactly what controlled demolitions look like.

You can find videos online of many controlled demolitions, especially on the website of Controlled Demolition, Inc., the world's largest contractor. You can see examples of every imaginable type of structure being brought down with explosives.

The main idea when dropping a building is controlling where the debris goes. You usually want to drop it right in its own footprint, rather than possibly damaging other structures nearby. Building 7 dropped nearly straight down, but not quite. The Verizon Building suffered $1.4 billion in damage, and Manhattan Community College's Fiterman Hall was so badly crushed that what remained had to be demolished. How could a controlled demolition have managed to get Building 7 to fall so close to its own footprint?

One way professionals do this is to drop the center of a building first, and then let it pull the sides down on top of it. Another is to start at one end, and let it pull itself down like a line of dominoes. I couldn't find a single example of something the size of building 7 being dropped straight down all at once. So, no, in fact, it does NOT fall like a controlled demolition.

But even more significantly, building 7's collapse lacked the most obvious and important aspect of a demolition: the explosions! In every single video of a controlled demolition I found, without exception, you can see the explosions going off throughout the structure right before it drops. To prep for a drop, workers expose the support beams, and place shaped charges on them. This has to be done at strategic points throughout the whole building. But look at Building 7's video again. No explosions at all.

Conspiracy theorists, zero; real history, one. Building 7's collapse did NOT look like a controlled demolition.

— Brian Dunning

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References & Further Reading

9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Commission Report. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 2004.

Byles, Jeff. Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2005.

Eagar, Thomas W; Musso, Christopher. "Why did the world trade center collapse? Science, engineering, and speculation." Journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society. 1 Dec. 2001, Volume 53, Number 12: 8-11.

Hoffman, Jim. " the hidden story of Building 7: What Caused Building 7's Collapse?", 25 Jan. 2007. Web. 8 Dec. 2009. <>

McAllister, Therese (editor). World Trade Center Building Performance Study: Data Collection, Preliminary Observations, and Recommendations. Washington DC: FEMA, 2002.

Sunder, S., Gann, R., Grosshandler, W., Lew, H., Bukowski, R., Sadek, F., Gayle, F., Gross, J., McAllister, T., Averill, J., Lawson, J., Nelson, H., Cauffman, S. NIST NCSTAR 1A: Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008.


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