August 10th, 2011 was a learning experience. We spent the afternoon at NIST (The National Institute for Standards and Technology) in Gaithersburg, MD with Stephen W. Banovic, a scientist in the Metallurgy Division, and Michael E. Newman, NIST’s Senior Communications Officer. Many people first heard of NIST when the WTC Steel spent six years there being sampled and tested during the investigation into why the Twin Towers fell on September 11th, 2001.
We did our best to keep up and learned a lot about the structural nature of steel from Steve. Michael shared his experience with being the voice of what some might consider one of the most important and controversial scientific and structural engineering investigations in recent history.
From there, we drove to Columbia, Maryland to meet Randall “Rand” Griffin and learn about the Maryland State 9/11 Memorial. He is the Chair of the committee for the Memorial. His drive and support of the project has guaranteed its dedication on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 and he spoke from his heart during the interview. He is also involved in the Maryland Commission on Public Art and his own office building has a large sculpture displayed in front of it. He drew some interesting parallels between funding a memorial and any large art installation, both difficult tasks in these economic times.
Screen shots from the documentary, The Art of Memories, currently in production:
Scientist Stephen W. Banovic discusses the contents of a the storage area at NIST.
All the flat files are filled with samples taken from the WTC Steel during the six year investigation into why the Twin Towers collapsed.
Steve W. Banovic points out the original Tower One (North Tower) location of the WTC Steel that went to the Westerville, OH. It was one of the few pieces picked up directly from the NIST Campus. As you can see, the location is not far from where American Airlines Flight 11 hit Tower One. Steel that came in direct contact with the planes is called “impact steel” and those pieces have been primarily distributed to museums not to the public.
Michael E. Newman gives us a tour of the NIST campus. It is very much like an actual campus the way it is set up and Michael explained there were a lot of education opportunities for students at NIST. He, as well as many others, dedicated much of their lives to the WTC Steel investigation. He is most proud of the changes that were implemented at a national level in building codes and safety due to the results of their findings.
Randall “Rand” Griffin shows an architectural rendering of the Maryland State 9/11 Memorial. The WTC Steel rests horizontally on the marble and Rand explains this positioning represents the way the WTC Steel was found amongst the rubble of “the pile” (as it is referred to by those that worked at Ground Zero).