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Miami Condo Collapse. An engineer's theory. How a pool deck brings down buildings

This video popped up in my YT feed. Thought I'd see the beginning but watched all 30 minutes. Looks like a perfect storm of neglect, bad design, bad management, and cheapness on the part of the condo association. I feel SO sad for the people who lost their lives, because there were reports that the structure needed immediate attention. :( I only hope that the people involved with doing nothing are OUT.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljLQWQI7nzg]
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Sadly this is exactly what you get when the top priority is maximizing profits.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
[@346344,PicturesOfABetterTomorrow] A restaurant across from my job was closed down by the board of health. Essentially, they changed the sign and the name of the place, but it was the same establishment.
[@329500,uncalled4] Sad but not surprising. Scam "renovation" companies were a huge problem here a few years ago. They would take your money, strip the place to the studs and cut and run with the money and start up with a new name the minute someone tried to sue them.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
[@346344,PicturesOfABetterTomorrow] That has to be what happened here. "Hey, we got no health code violations! Look us up!"
Wow. Just... wow. Human greed strikes again.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
No smoking guns, but a LOT of questions.
crownedwithlaurel97 · 22-25, F
this tragedy really stuck me. these people were just chilling in their own home, most of them probably asleep, then boom, their building collapses. i can't believe the people in charge let this happen. engineers knew it was built badly, the condo board was aware of the issues, but nobody wanted to spend money. and now we have 100+ people dead and hundreds of family and friends mourning their death. ugh
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
[@849809,crownedwithlaurel97] Don't. It sucked. I was about 20 blocks away. I thought we were all dead, that more planes were coming to take us out. Was working for a major network at the time, and some tapes I dubbed made it onto the Evening News. I had to sleep in the building overnight. But I didn't really sleep.

Here's a shot a few weeks later. I was operating the remote zoom on the camera for this shot as they came back from commercial.
crownedwithlaurel97 · 22-25, F
[@329500,uncalled4] that's so awful oh my God
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
[@849809,crownedwithlaurel97] What I do have is raw footage of the towers(both inside and outside). I brought it home. I haven't watched it much. It's hard to take. You see a bunch of people shooting footage off of the balcony of a Brooklyn co-op and you hear them talking, discussing this and that, and their screams of horror as they see both the planes as well as the building collapsing, all in real time.
That was such a tragic situation. 😞
toddr13 · 41-45, M
I saw that yesterday and have seen his earlier video analysis of the condo building. The palm trees in the planters were removed, but probably should never have been there, because they are much heavier than flowers and dirt as had likely been originally intended.

The analysis from 2020 where he was reviewing a video from a lady who had toured an apartment and was looking for the spot in the garage showed several areas of concern, standing water, spalling, etc.
toddr13 · 41-45, M
[@329500,uncalled4] Definitely, it was a disaster in the making. Prices in that building were mid-tier for oceanfront/view in South Florida, and it was a dated building from the 80s. I also remember reading that it had gone down in the number of units from when it was built because people had merged apartments to create larger spaces.

So, the trick was to not negatively impact sales prices and sales by not having huge condo fees, and assessments, which can limit market potential. I know buildings in Manhattan, for example, where the sales prices are lower, but the co-op or condo fees are multiples of the competition, for more competitive units in terms of size, finishing, and view, but the full-service building fees kill the upward momentum in price. However, an aging South Florida oceanfront building that had been heavily modified within the structure, and had numerous indications of deferred maintenance, at the least, and outright neglect, would have required large assessments, and/or condo fee increases to get things back in order.

Too many patches were made, and I bet they were not using the most qualified contractors to execute the work, that the building fell into a state of standing dereliction that contributed to the collapse. There was an assessment for the roof, and one wonders if the roof was leaking, contributing to the problems of stucco, steel, and water in an oceanfront setting.
uncalled4 · 51-55, M
[@22121,toddr13] That rebar just popping out by itself....what the f? I wonder how the neighboring condos are selling now. That town just shot themselves in the foot.
toddr13 · 41-45, M
[@329500,uncalled4] Newer buildings should have no problem because of tightened building regulations post-Andrew. Like the oval building next door, that would not have the same levels of concern, though it overlooks a site of a horrible tragedy, but removing that from the equation, the construction methods would be sufficient, and engineered for today's stone slab counters, heavy appliances, etc. -- loads that were not the norm in the late 70s-early 80s.

There are sister structures in other condo associations, and some were nervous about them, but the level of decay does not seem to have been a problem as it was in Champlain South. Water seems to be at the heart of the issue in that building, and did not seem to have been addresses with the immediacy required in light of reports that stated the structure had critical issues.

I would think that older buildings are going to be suspect, especially if they have underground parking. That may tend to limit market presence of the pre-Andrew construction that would make one interested in purchasing have maintenance and repair documents from the condo association inspected prior to purchase.
SteelHands · 61-69, M
Bad drainage. The slabs weren't pitched to the drains properly. It was a disaster waiting to happen since it went up.

You can bet money they knew it when the final inspection was done. All the "perfect storm" subterfuge won't cover it up. It wasn't incompetence in the 80s. It was arrogance. Higher ups jacked on coke not giving a fk.

Sad but true.
Too much non-engineering speculation

Thank you for the sharing!

Column was overloaded at time of failure both in compression and shear ... with lateral stresses

That columns concrete needs evaluation, along with the rebar, before all the speculation ... along with the column footer
[@377644,SteelHands] hard to say at this point ... was the rebar placed correctly? Was the concrete cured correctly? Did the shear connection invite corrosion?

That post may of had less than 3000 psi concrete ... 12 x16 is only 140 sq inches x 3000 lbs and that location likely had a good 120 tons on it, without wind stress ... leaving little margin.

Corrosion, footing, wind loading and material quality will all need to be factored in.

The noises heard, were shearing and pull of rebar from concrete ... induced by something

In the end ... poor design, poor construction and overloading by non-engineers to achieve appearance goals ... will be the root problem ... it always is
SteelHands · 61-69, M
[@6757,questionWeaver] You saw the vid, There was a crane accident. The crane accident delayed the job. You know what happens next. Masons, plumbers, drywallers, finishers, electricians all tripping over each other trying to catch up.

Sugar in the mix. Faster dry uneven cure.

You know the drill. It's one of the easiest things to see if you don't put on the blinders and use that 20/20 hindsight. Doesn't help ease the mind in the august years if ya have a conscience, unless you live in denial.

I know you know these things. Someone even issued a report and specificalluy said the slabs needed to be replaced.

It's a dead bang fact. The current owner is the same kind of guy as the PM when that place was rolled out. Crossed fingers and rolling dice. I know that ain't like you or me. Don't defend those goofs. The clubs not gonna be ableto keep hiding these dirtbags. Look at the guys on the circle. Coked up idiot in the big chair babbling like a moron. Our own people calling their best legal beagles a joke.

The jig is up. I'm not gonna get the blame. Defend them and you might just as well be one of them powder heads.
[@377644,SteelHands] not about defending them ... it is about discovering what the path to tragedy was ... so we can learn from it and not do it again

We engineers follow tables and guidelines ... using software that makes assumptions on its own

We are always leery of creating junctures where multiple forces come into play

And there are several here

Understanding the dominant force is key

Understanding the dominant weakness is essential

One or more elements no longer could resist gravity and failed, causing a chain reaction of overloading and lightening

Most likely rebar corrosion is at the root of the problem


But then ... it is ALWAYS a bad idea to place concrete pavers on suspended concrete ... no good will ever come of it. ... it is a bad landscaping design ... and we know this.

Shear concrete connections are also bad ... unless designed to "give way".

And structures designed to last 40 years ... only should be trusted to last 40 years ... no surprise there either.

Slender concrete columns are notorious failure points.

My house columns, rated to 8 stories ... are 15x15 and support 50 tons

Very hard to imagine 12x16 columns in that building at all.

Rebar placed 3 inches from the edge, means it was only 6 inches apart ... StrucCalc will tell you, on a 14 foot tall column, that is insufficient to resist buckling.

Lots of people looked at this and questioned the engineering here ... enough to write reports stressing the issues.

The footer under that had to be massive, to even transfer that load to the soil

Which could be part of the problem ... even a 3/4 inch compaction movement would cause pooling and start the failure deformation process.

This was bad design ... there is no doubt about that.

 
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