Why Do Florida Condo Buildings Collapse Into The Sand?

System - Friday, April 15, 2022
Property Management Blog

According to some engineers who investigated the collapse of a 13-story condo property management tower in Florida, the collapse looked to have started towards the bottom of the structure.

Experts who have analyzed video footage of the disaster outside Florida are focusing on a spot in the lowest part of the condominium complex. Possibly in or below the underground parking lot is where an initial failure could have set off a structural avalanche. This is according to the investigation into what may be the deadliest accidental building collapse in American history.

The steady spread of failures, known as "progressive collapse," could have occurred for a variety of reasons. This includes design errors or the less strong construction permitted by building rules four decades ago when the structure was constructed. But that trend would not have been possible without a vital first failure. Also, a thorough examination of a grainy security film released in the hours following the accident. It has provided the first hints as to where that failure might have occurred.

The Sequence of the Collapse

The preliminary assessments took place while rescuers worked their way through the massive pile of wreckage left behind. This was when half of the 13-story Champlain Towers South collapsed early on June 24. The remaining portion of the structure was eventually demolished as a safety precaution. On the other hand, the death toll has risen to 86, with others still missing.

Several bridges, overpasses, and under-construction structures break each year. But, the catastrophic collapse of an occupied building — lacking a bomb or an earthquake — is unusual. So, the investigators are baffled as to how it could have happened with such little notice.

"In America, having a structure fall is not at all common.” "Something was seriously wrong with this circumstance." Said Charles W. Burkett, mayor of Surfside, Fla., the site of the accident.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a federal organization, sent scientists and engineers to conduct a preliminary investigation. They were in the hopes of identifying and preserving elements that could aid in the investigation of the collapse. Officials expect a variety of local, state, and federal agencies to participate in the investigation, however, it is unclear which agency would lead it.

The search for an explanation is urgent not only for sister buildings nearby. But, also for a large section of South Florida, where a necklace of high-rise condos, many of them decades old, sits on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. They endure an ever-worsening barrage of hurricane winds, storm surges, and sea salt.

Also Read: How Can A Condo Management Company Help Improve Your ROI?

What the 2018 Engineer’s Report Found

Part of the structure first sagged, appearing to fall vertically in one large chunk beneath the southern edge of the center of the building, not far from the pool. The breakdown spread swiftly, bringing down the entire heart of the skyscraper-like a nightmare landslide. A significant chunk to the east also collapsed seconds later.

Mr. Dusenberry said such a failure "would suggest a foundation-related concern, maybe corrosion or other deterioration at a lower level." He was echoing the thoughts of many other structural experts who watched the film. "You absolutely can't rule out a design or construction error that has lived for 40 years." He added.