by Marley Bice, MCRP '12
Retroplex is having a 70’s marathon this week. Of course that means… disaster movies! Now I’m sure everyone has heard of the more notorious transportation-related disaster movies Airplane (reproduced recently as Snakes on a Plane) and The Poseidon Adventure (reproduced recently as just Poseidon) but I, at least, was pleasantly surprised by the planning- and building code-related disaster movies such as Earthquake (with the dashing Charlton Heston) and The Towering Inferno (with Paul Newman). These movies, both set in California coincidentally, chose to shock their audiences by reminding them that their engineering and building technologies and ambitions were outpacing their out-dated zoning and building codes.
In The Towering Inferno “The Glass Tower” (which at 135+ stories was hypothetically taller than even the famous World Trade Center Twin Towers) didn’t survive its inauguration party due to faulty electrical wiring and a sundry of other mishaps. In Earthquake, a sleepy-looking-1974 Los Angeles is shocked by a magnitude-7 earthquake. A graduate assistant (of course) at the California Seismological Institute warned of the catastrophe but his scientific evidence could not break through the barrier of party politics in time to save hundreds of thousands of Angelinos. Charlton Heston, a noted engineer in this role, reminisces on how they shouldn’t have built “these 40-story monstrosities… not here.”