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Attack could alter future skylines

Skyscrapers planned for London's skyline may not come to fruition  

By CNN's Linda Kennedy

LONDON, England (CNN ) -- For London's landscape, the sky was the limit: Fifteen tall buildings were to be added. The plans set in stone until the World Trade Center attack last week.

Frankfurt has already gone up that road, with one of the world's highest skylines. But now a leading architect says the era of super skyscrapers could be over.

"Maybe not 100 storeys, maybe people will think twice about going over 50," says Marco Goldschmeid. "But think of the number of high rises in the world. There are literally thousands, they're going to be with us, we're not taking them down, they're going to be occupied, so people will be taking a calculated risk."

Yet 50 storeys -- the height of Britain's biggest and best-known block -- is still too high for some workers. We were granted rare filming access on site at Canary Wharf, where workers spoke of their fears watching World Trade Center staff who were trapped.

"I'm on the 43rd floor, I work for the Bank of New York, and when the news went down, it was a shock. That could be us," said one worker.

"Every break time, that's all people talk about. I think we just want to get back to normal," said another.

Even if reinforced, no high rise could withstand an aircraft attack like the ones last week. But if cities change their skylines, experts say terrorists could simply switch targets.

"The World Trade Center was an iconic building, that's why it was targeted," says Aaron Morby, editor of Construction News. "It was a symbol of America's success and strength of economy, but equally in Britain the Channel Tunnel could be a target as well. It doesn't have to be a tall building."

For now, high rises are still going up in London. Two new towers will be finished next year, and tenant Citigroup says it's moving in as planned.

In the heart of Canary Wharf, building goes on. But what could change the skyline of London and other cities across the globe is not the atmosphere of feeling vulnerable following the attack, but the economic downturn that has followed.

There may be fewer tall office blocks, simply because there's less money to build them.

• Attacks spark global red alert
September 12, 2001
• Canary Wharf to buy back stock
June 14, 2001

• Royal Institute of British Architects
• Canary Wharf Group

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