Display Provides 'Sense of Scale' for Buildings Destroyed in Attack

Published 09.20.2001


Some students in the School of Construction and Design Technologies at Pennsylvania College of Technology are doing their part to help people comprehend the enormity of the terrorist attack that took thousands of lives in New York City on Sept. 11.

About two dozen Architectural Technology students in the (Commercial) Building Materials Class taught by faculty member William R. Barlow II conducted extensive research and constructed a scale model of the World Trade Center's twin towers and associated buildings in the Trade Center Plaza. The model has been placed on display in the lobby of the College Library, located in the Learning Resources Center.

Included in the display for size comparisons are a scale model of a typical two-story home and a scale replica of the huge, 30- by 60-foot flag (on a 100-foot-high flagpole) that adorns the Maynard Street entrance to Penn College. Also provided is a scale diagram of a Boeing 767 airliner.

"It's pretty dramatic when you look at this tiny flagpole sitting down there," Barlow said of the display.

In the display, which is entitled "A Sense of Scale," 1 inch is equal to 32 feet. The 110-story World Trade Center towers dwarf the flagpole and house, providing viewers with some perspective on the height and girth of the structures that burned and collapsed after two hijacked commercial airliners crashed into them and exploded.

Another diagram shows that, if the floors of just one of the towers were laid out in a rectangle, they would virtually engulf the 100-acre main campus at Penn College.

The initiative was conceived by Barlow, who offered it up to students on Sept. 13 as a class project that would have to be completed within a week. The students gladly accepted the challenge.

"They felt they had to do something," he said, explaining their efforts will help to educate students, faculty and staff.

The students were split into two teams for the project: one working on the research aspect, the other on the model construction and drawings. They did the bulk of their research on the Internet, confirming dimensions and using floor plans they had found. They accessed additional sources at the library and performed some plotting work on computers.

"It was based upon their research and discovering the actual sizes," Barlow said.

The model was constructed with cardboard available on campus. The only cost incurred was for two cans of spray paint.

The display was finished on time and was placed in the front of the Library on Thursday morning. Barlow said the students achieved their goal of providing some insight about the size of the World Trade Center complex by placing it side-by-side with "smaller objects that the public can relate to."

"That's why we call it 'A Sense of Scale,' " he said.