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Saturday02 August 2014

RIBA comes under fire for hosting ‘bonkers’ 9/11 talk

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Institute reviews policy after controversial event booked by Zaha Hadid Architects associate

The RIBA is reviewing its policy on hiring out 66 Portland Place following a storm of criticism over its hosting of a group claiming that New York’s Twin Towers were brought down through a controlled explosion.

Leading architects on both sides of the Atlantic hit out at the institute this week after American architect Richard Gage, part of the group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, delivered a lecture at RIBA HQ on Monday night.

The venue was booked by fellow American and RIBA member Craig Phillip Kiner, an associate at Zaha Hadid Architects.

Gage claims that the fires caused by the impact of the two jets flown into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, could not have been sufficient to make the steel structure of the towers collapse, and he questions the collapse of World Trade Centre 7, a nearby 47-storey building which was not hit by an aircraft.

But critics claim his scholarly approach is nothing more than a cover for a “bonkers” conspiracy theory which ultimately points the finger at the US government and allies including the state of Israel.

Director of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter Rick Bell, who witnessed 9/11, expressed surprise at the event and said “no amount of money” would persuade him to allow the group to talk at his headquarters.

“The professional community discredits this guy,” he said. “We rent to just about anybody but if this guy came to me I’d say we don’t want your money, we don’t want you in our building.
“You have to draw the line somewhere… Not for any amount of money would we have that talk in our space. It gives it a credibility that it doesn’t deserve.”

KPF chairman Gene Kohn, who was the AIA’s spokesman in the aftermath of the attacks, called Gage’s theories “ridiculous”.

“There were no explosives planted,” he said. “The buildings were definitely brought down by the planes. This was not your typical fire. Basically they’re accusing the government of doing something so dastardly, to destroy a part of New York – it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

In London, figures including former RIBA president Jack Pringle and Stephan Reinke, founding president of the AIA’s UK chapter, criticised the event.

David Aaronovitch, Times columnist and author of Voodoo Histories: the Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History, was at the event. He said: “Zionists, Israelis and the Saudis were blamed for doing this, that or the other” by audience members.

He said around 230 people including 25-30 self-identified architects and engineers attended.

“It was every bit as bonkers as you’d expect it to be,” he told BD. “What they mean is that George Bush and the Zionists brought down the towers.

“The RIBA let itself out to a conspiracy theory organisation whose theories are utterly insane.

“The choice of the RIBA was not accidental… the RIBA should have made it clear that the vast majority of architects think these theories have no merit.”

But Gage said it was unfair of critics to attack his organisation without looking at its evidence, which he claims is supported by 1,500 people in both disciplines.

“Architects and engineers have willfully ignored the message that we’ve been speaking about for five years,” he said. “When is the RIBA going to take this seriously?

“It is extremely important that we understand exactly what happened on 9/11… the implications of the demolition of the Twin Towers are very disturbing – I’m not denying that – but to refuse to look at the evidence because it has dark implications is ignorance.”

Kiner said his membership of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth was a “personal matter” and had nothing to do with Zaha Hadid Architects.

In a statement, the RIBA said: “The RIBA never endorses, sponsors or publicises private events held in its buildings, therefore any perception that this event was associated with the RIBA is regrettable. We will be reviewing our policy on private hire of our building in the light of this event and reserve the right to review room bookings on a case by case basis.”

Who are architects & engineers for 9/11 truth?

According to the five-year-old group’s website, more than 1,500 architects and engineers have signed its petition calling for the US Congress to launch an independent investigation into what caused the buildings to collapse.

“We believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that three World Trade Centre buildings No 1 (North Tower), No 2 (South Tower) and No 7 (the 47-storey high-rise across Vesey St) were destroyed not by jet impact and fires but by controlled demolition with explosives.”

It says the Twin Towers’ collapse “exhibited all of the characteristics of destruction by explosion” which include “improbable symmetry of debris distribution”, “extremely rapid onset of destruction” and “evidence of explosives found in dust samples”.

Spokesman Richard Gage, a San Francisco Bay Area architect, launched “his own unyielding quest for the truth about 9/11” after hearing a radio show in 2006.

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Readers' comments (875)

  • Des Dogioffski

    I support free speech, but actually the Twin Towers were brought down by impact with a White Fiat Uno.

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  • Just judges do not condemn the accused without examining the evidence presented by the defence.

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  • What part of "RIBA never endorses, sponsors or publicises private events held in its buildings" do some people not understand? This was a pure matter of a venue booking, nothing else. The "outcry" is from those who say they believe in freedom of speech, as long as that freedom is exercised in a little cell with no audience somewhere. Debating whether this group is right or wrong should be irrelevant. The issue is: can RIBA only rent out space to those groups who have a position that all its members agree with? Before every booking, they'd like a ballot perhaps, just to be sure? I could book the terrace for my birthday. Would you like to question me first for my beliefs on architecture, 9/11, UK planning laws, social housing provision, the Carbuncle awards etc first before allowing me to do so? This is precisely the kind of event that should freely be allowed to take place at RIBA. Moving on to the secondary issue of the actual subject matter - if you disagree with them, you should go and openly challenge them then via the opportunity laid at your feet by their public meeting in a room at RIBA. Did you objectors go? If not, why not exactly?

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  • Laura: For your theory to hold any weight - consider this...Who you allow to use your venue most certianly has an effect on your organisation's image especially when the RIBA was booked purely to lend legitimacy to a group that has the word "architects" in its title. The RIBA have been played as the idiots that we all unfortunately know that they are...and therefore now all UK architects are being tarred with the 9/11 "truther" tag through this idiotic lack of foresight.

    A question you might ask is this - "has this booking helped UK architects or has it done the UK profession a dis-service"? Not a difficult one to figure out especially as the RIBA's supposed modus operandus is to help UK architects and architecture.

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  • Albury Smith

    I think it's time to investigate some of the bizarre and absurd claims made by Richard Gage, not the three WTC hi-rise collapses on 9/11, since they've already been thoroughly investigated by much more qualified, competent, and honest people. The NIST scientists and engineers were only able to time the top 18 stories, or 242', of the collapse of WTC 7's facade, and determined that it took 5.4 seconds, yet Gage and others in the 9/11 "truth movement" claim that the entire 610' collapse only took ~6.5 seconds. Did the other 368' fall in just over 1 second? How is he even able to give us a time to the nearest 1/10 of a second for the entire collapse when NIST couldn't because buildings in the foreground blocked the view of video cameras?
    How can he claim that the towers nearly free fell when the loose, airborne debris from their upper stories was obviously falling much faster than the collapse zones, and began hitting the ground while at least 40 stories in each one were still intact? The North Tower was only down to the height of WTC 7 when debris from the upper stories first hit the ground. Was g miraculously increased on 9/11? They fell in ~15 and ~22 seconds respectively, nowhere near the ~9.25 seconds that free fall would have taken:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/RKOwens4#p/u/40/qLShZOvxVe4

    yet he begins every presentation with his near free-fall claim. He's also claimed that the dust clouds from the collapses were "pyroclastic," but there are no reports of anyone's skin being instantly peeled off, and he's claimed that the fires in WTC 7 were minor, totally contradicting these NYC eyewitnesses:

    http://sites.google.com/site/wtc7lies/eyewitnessaccountsofwtc7fires
    http://sites.google.com/site/wtc7lies/accountsofwtc7damage
    http://sites.google.com/site/wtc7lies/eyewitnessaccountsofthewithdrawalfromwtc

    How could his claim that 400,000 yards of concrete were turned to fine powder be true, when there was less than 100,000 yards of concrete above grade in both towers combined? Does he know how to turn 400,000 yards of concrete to fine powder with explosives without leveling NYC?
    Has he ever seen a controlled demolition that left molten metal in the debris for months? Has he ever seen one that didn't leave even one explosively-cut column in the debris? Since he claims that explosives were planted in the core columns to start the collapses, and that it was done from elevator shafts, has he even looked a floor plan of the cores above the 78th floor sky lobby? There were only 6 regular elevators above there, plus a freight and 2 express elevators, and they were only near 6 of the 47 core columns. Several of those were in the paths of the planes, and the perimeter columns collapsed first, so he's not even making sense, especially considering the fact that 30 or more stories of core framing stood 15-25 seconds after each tower's main collapse was over.
    We should investigate the nonsense coming from Richard Gage, as well as his "engineers."

    http://forums.randi.org/showpost.php?p=3834688&postcount=12

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  • I see a lot of responses putting up "how can this be? how can he say? how could this happen?" "arguments. I can find those kind of responses from my 4 year old child. For the child they are natural and knowledge-seeking questions. From responders here they are covered "incredulous" statements. These statements, however, offer no scientific evidence for backup of an alternative explanation. Indeed, if any of the negative respondents whose name-calling, schoolyard style paragraphs I've seen so far would ever DARE to offer scientific evidence for the official theory, or their variation of it (basically the planes knocking the buildings down) I'd love to read it.

    The article is a condemnation of free speech. RIBA is entitled to take that approach, at the risk of appearing to model itself after such organizations as the John Birch Society.

    The article also "wisely" stays away from offering any legitimate scientific proof that what Gage says is incorrect. NIST tried its best to offer scientific evidence, and it failed miserably. The only place it succeeded was in helping the cover-up of the buildings' collapses to continue.

    Remember, there was a third building, building 7, WHICH WAS NOT STRUCK BY A PLANE, and had only small office fires burning within.

    This article, and some of the responses so far, give me the impression that RIBA is but a sad "joke" of an organization.

    donilo

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  • What I don't understand is how can buildings 3, 4, 5 and 6, hit by debris form World Trade Centre buildings 1 and 2 and burning aggressively exhibit evidence of normal destruction by fire, with steel frames still rising and concrete dissembled in a haphazard fashion, while building 7 - one football pitches' distance from WTC 1 & 2, not hit by a plane, disintigrated into its own footprint and crumbled into piles of dust.

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  • Fenster Grau

    Des,
    Please explain now how one white Fiat Uno could destroy the Twin Towers? Are you making an expose at the RIBA?
    Fenster

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  • If those at the RIBA need to resort to childish insults of a fellow professional then it says more about them than it does about Richard Gage. This is akin to people who disagree on 'climate change' being labelled 'holocaust deniers' and it's no accident in the article above that the anti-jewish rhetoric again raises its ugly head to try to discredit the individual instead of actually taking notice of the scientific evidence presented by Mr. Gage which is compelling for those willing to look at it.

    Those simply name calling who have never looked at the evidence display their own ignorance of what should be a very disturbing scenario for all of us to consider; namely that we have been fooled into illegal wars and the infliction of terror on innocent civilians in the Middle east and now North Africa based on the events of 9/11.

    I think those events warrant serious investigation and Mr. Gage has made a serious attempt to do just that

    Neil

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  • This is hugely polarising issue. As it stands, the NIST report is held up as the most exhaustive and credible explanation for the alarmingly fast global collapse of these massive buildings, the conclusion being that it was a result of impact damage and fire. If these conclusions were endorsed and peer reviewed by a world class Structural Engineering firm such as Ove Arup and Partners, it would lay the issue to rest once and for all. Until that happens, it is inevitable that questions will remain. I am quite surprised BD that you have given coverage to a journalist who specialises in writing about Conspiracy Theories here, when you could have asked a top Structural Engineer to refute the evidence instead.

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