A part of a window fell off a high-rise office building this morning in midtown Manhattan, raining shards of glass down onto the street below and injuring three pedestrians.
The 34-story building at 40 West 57th St., home to various financial services firms, was built in 1972, according to an online listing. CBS reports that a worker struck the window with a piece of equipment during an interior renovation, causing part of the several-hundred-pound window to plummet off the side of the building.
In a world full of ever-taller and ever-glassier buildings, you would think we’d have engineered a way to ensure that no window ever becomes a free-falling death monster, but it turns out, errant glass projectiles coming off skyscrapers aren’t rare at all.
As writer Karrie Jacobs explained in Co.Design during another high-profile failure of glass (the cracking of a glass observation deck in Chicago):
Glass is now perhaps the most commonly used urban building material–it’s certainly the most visible–and its failures can be alarming. High-rise towers such as the Goldman Sachs and Bank of America headquarters in Manhattan, for instance, have been known to drop whole windows, or fragments, from great heights. According to Dr. Andrew Dent, a scientist at the research and consulting firm Material ConneXion, glass is ‘unpredictable,’ susceptible to ‘catastrophic failure.’
That’s not to mention the other design flaws glassy buildings can present, like their ability to melt cars. Gothamist’s response to this situation seems spot on: “please remember that it’s never safe to go anywhere or do anything.”
Read more about building with glass here.