Home News REPORT: Collapsed Miami condo wasn’t built to code

REPORT: Collapsed Miami condo wasn’t built to code

by J.C McCallum
REPORT: Collapsed Miami condo wasn’t built to code

The Miami Surfside condo which collapsed in late June, killing 98, has been studied by engineers who say the building wasn’t designed and built to code:

NEWSMAX – The Miami Beach condo that collapsed and killed 98 people was poorly designed and did not adhere to construction codes when built, the Miami Herald reported Sunday.

The Herald consulted with four engineers and a general contractor to perform an analysis of building plans, applicable building codes, and photos of the debris from the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South.

The experts concluded that the building was poorly designed, even for the 1970s when the plans originally were drawn and codes were less rigorous, the Herald said.

Due to column designs that were too narrow to safely accommodate the amount of reinforcing steel called for in the plans at the basement and ground floors, experts told the Herald that the condo’s contractor would have been forced to choose between squeezing bars in against code — risking air pockets in the concrete — or leaving out some of the planned reinforcement from the connection.

The New York Times, based on debris photos, first reported the contractor may have opted for the latter.

Whichever option the contractor chose, experts told the Herald the column-to-slab connection likely would have been weaker than if it had been designed and built to code.

Engineers told the Herald that original design flaws alone unlikely initiated the collapse, but the combination of those flaws with concrete deterioration could have been the difference between a single floor caving in and the progressive collapse that occurred.

“If the building was so weak it couldn’t carry the loads, you would have known that early on,” Dawn Lehman, professor of structural engineering at the University of Washington, told the Herald.

But given the limited number of reinforcement steel seen connecting the column and the slab, Lehman said, “it’s amazing to me that something didn’t [collapse] earlier.”

The now-defunct engineering firm Breiterman, Jurado and Associates designed the building in 1979. The plans also showed potential design flaws in the pool deck area, engineers interviewed by the Herald said.

The deck, which sat on thin columns to maximize parking space below, was barely designed with enough strength to support a pool party, much less the layers of pavers and standing water that loaded it down over the decades, reported the Herald, based on calculations by engineers using figures from the 1970s.

“All of these factors, not having many of these things to code, banded together and I believe contributed to the collapse,” Abieyuwa Aghayere, professor of structural engineering at Drexel University, told the Herald.

I hope that in the end the designers and builders of this condo are held accountable for this collapse, as well as the city leaders who allowed this to pass inspection at all levels.

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