Florida Collapsed Condominium had been sinking since 1990s!

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  • #1
Astronuc
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I imagine there is a potential for 'negligent homicide'. Even a study in 2020 indicated the building was unstable.

MSN - Land around the Florida condo that collapsed was showing signs of sinking, according to a 2020 study
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/rea...-sinking-according-to-a-2020-study/ar-AALp3eT

Why weren't the residents warned? Why wasn't the building condemned? And it was undergoing a review for recertification?!

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/c...early-as-the-1990s-researchers-say/ar-AALoUP0

There reason that licensed professional engineers are licensed is so this s*** doesn't happen! Same reason for building inspections and certification.

This didn't just happen. It was a slow, and apparently detectable, condition, a disaster waiting to happen. Someone neglected the evidence, and neglected to warn the residents.
 
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  • #2
russ_watters
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Probably. We'll see, but at first glance it definitely looks like it was predictable if not predicted. But even then it may be tough to unpack where the fault lies (design, construction, owner/maintenance?), and even more difficult to obtain a conviction/prove willful negligence:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Pier_34_collapse
 
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  • #3
Vanadium 50
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I don't think we know if
  • The standards were followed but inadequate
  • The standards were adequate but not followed
 
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  • #4
jack action
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This didn't just happen. It was a slow, and apparently detectable, condition, a disaster waiting to happen. Someone neglected the evidence, and neglected to warn the residents.

These are not just residents, they are owners (condominiums). They are responsible for the maintenance of their building. From your link:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/collapsed-miami-condo-had-been-sinking-into-earth-as-early-as-the-1990s-researchers-say/ar-AALoUP0 said:
In 2015, a lawsuit alleged building management failed to maintain an outside wall, resulting in water damage and cracks. The owner who filed that suit had previously sued over the same issue, according to a court filing. The management company paid for damages in the earlier case, according to records.

Cracked walls or shifting foundations can be clues that sinking has affected the stability of a structure, according to Matthys Levy, a consulting engineer, professor at Columbia University and author of “Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail.”
Residents of the building might have noticed changes, he said.

“Had there been changes in the building? Cracks in the walls, in the floor? Floors not being level, things rolling off tables?” he said. That would indicate the building was shifting.

It was their responsibility to hire the right people to investigate the condition of their building, just like you are responsible for your house. The residents were most likely the ones who neglected the evidence. At the very least, they were responsible for staying there if the rest of the group chose to ignore the potential danger. You don't need someone to condemn your building to move from a potentially dangerous place.
 
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Twigg
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  • #6
Astronuc
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Exhibit A: Florida International University living in a glass house and throwing stones (see bridge collapse 3 years back)
Yeah, I was thinking about that just now.

I'm curious to see who signed the 'Certificate of Occupancy'.
 
  • #7
Twigg
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Does anyone have access to Wdowinski's report in the journal Ocean and Coastal Management? I'm very curious what the signs of subsidence are, and how confident they were in their evidence. It sounds like satellite images were used. Do they measure relative position to nearby landmarks or something? I'm curious how they singled out a single condo building. Maybe they canvased every building in a set of images and this one stood out? Is data like Wdowski's 2mm/yr subsidence rate normally part of the prevention process, or is it considered speculative? (In other words, do you think anyone relevant to condemning decisions read Wdowinski's paper?)
 
  • #8
Astronuc
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These are not just residents, they are owners (condominiums). They are responsible for the maintenance of their building. From your link:

It was their responsibility to hire the right people to investigate the condition of their building, just like you are responsible for your house. The residents were most likely the ones who neglected the evidence. At the very least, they were responsible for staying there if the rest of the group chose to ignore the potential danger. You don't need someone to condemn your building to move from a potentially dangerous place.
On the other hand, someone 'certified' the building, and it was apparently supposed to undergo a recertification process this year. Last year's study should have been a RED flag. Was the study made available to residents? If so, it's on them. If not, then we'll see.
 
  • #10
Twigg
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The study doesn't single out individual structures. They claim they have taken vertical displacement data over time on >20 satellite image scenes. Think heat map, not direct measurement of a structure's position. These data were collected in the years 1993-1999. They measure subsidence rates between 1 and 3mm/yr throughout Miami Beach, with standard deviation between 0.2 and 0.7mm/yr.

Attached:
(1) Image from the publicly available graphical abstract
1-s2.0-S0964569119309470-fx1.jpg

(2) Google maps of the collapsed building
1624636463678.png


Bottom line: If you wanted to not certify a building based on this data, you'd have to de-certify all of Miami Beach. (Am I reading this wrong?)

Edit: Added strike-through to false claims based on a misunderstanding of the heat map's y-axis. My bad
 
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  • #12
Twigg
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Yeah, I read this one because it is the article cited in the news releases you shared. Was there another one I missed?
 
  • #13
Astronuc
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Yeah, I read this one because it is the article cited in the news releases you shared. Was there another one I missed?
I'm sure there are numerous studies.

I'm sure there will be a lot of inspections on buildings in Miami Beach.

High-rise structures (the taller, i.e., the heavier) are particularly vulnerable. Pilings have to go deep, ideally to bedrock, with depth based on the mass of the building and compressibility of the subsurface. I've worked with a couple of civil engineers, one of who designed the pilings under his house, which sits on a hillside (basically sandstone) overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Think of the leaning Millenium Tower in San Francisco.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millennium_Tower_(San_Francisco)

Four dead, up to 159 missing, which may include those confirmed dead.
https://news.yahoo.com/surfside-miami-condo-collapse-death-toll-unaccounted-for-141756029.html

Numbers have changed over the last 12 hours.
 
  • #14
Twigg
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I stand corrected. There was specific mention of the structure in the article, and I completely mis-understood the y-axis of that heat map (for some reason, I read green as being "2mm/yr" when it is actually 0mm/yr whoops)

So yes, the article does single out the collapsed structure as a place that was sinking 2mm/yr when most (93% per the article) of Miami Beach was stable.

From the journal article:
In some locations, as in the eastern part of the city, the detected subsidence is of a 12-story high condominium building (northernmost black circle in Fig. 3A).
(I don't think I can reproduce their figures here :/ but yes, they singled out the condo building in one of their heat maps.)


I'd also point out an additional quote from one of the news releases @Astronuc linked:
Wdownski said he doesn’t believe anybody in the city or state government would have had a reason to be aware of the findings of the study. The bulk of it focused on potential flooding hazards, not engineering concerns.
 
  • #16
Astronuc
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I looked on GoogleMaps and found the overhead before shot.
About half the building collapsed!
 

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  • #17
rsk
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Similar but different
The Grenfell fire in the UK in 2017 exposed the widespread use in tower blocks of cladding which poses a serious fire risk.
Many other tower blocks using unsafe cladding have been identified and the owners are now liable for paying for this to be corrected. The costs run into millions. The tower blocks aren't in general luxury, expensive ones for the very wealthy - they are full of flats which have been bought by ordinary working people on mortgages. They are now facing huge debts to make their buildings safe and are, of course, unable to sell.

I wonder whether the costs of making other towers in Florida safe will also fall to their residents. I know there are mega rich people in Florida but I'm guessing the people who have bought in these blocks are just ordinary people with ordinary incomes.
 
  • #18
Vanadium 50
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The "sinking" article is paywalled. the data was taken at some time between 1992-1999, so it covers no more than 7 years.

The reason I bring this up is the building is 40 years old. 2mm/year x 40 years is 8 cm. That's a lot to go unnoticed.
 
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  • #19
Astronuc
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Condo Owners Are Suing The Collapsed Building's Association
https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...o-owners-lawsuit-suit-building-surfside-miami

What We Know About The Condition Of The Florida Building Before It Collapsed
https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...ion-of-the-florida-building-before-it-collaps

Kenneth Direktor, an attorney for Becker, a law firm that has worked for the condo association for about five years, told the Herald the complex had already hired an engineer for the recertification process.


"They were well into the review with the engineer about the project," Direktor said.

A possible weakening of concrete​


Greg Batista, an engineer who specializes in concrete repair projects, told the Herald he suspects concrete spalling, a process whereby saltwater seeps into concrete and ultimately causes support beams to rust, expand and weaken, to be a factor in the building's collapse.
Did seawater penetrate the concrete, which would degrade the concrete AND corrode the rebar?

Wdowinski and Fiaschi found that in the 1990s, Miami Beach experienced subsidence at the rate of 1 to 3 millimeters per year, which the former said could add up to a few inches of over the course of a decade.
Well, 25.4 mm to an inch. 10 mm < 0.5 inches and 30 mm ~ 1.2 inches. Did it continue to subside for 4 decades?

I have to wonder how far the inspecting engineer got into the current examination for recertification. Did he even know about the history of subsidence?

I've read that the collapse was caught on video, but I have not seen such a video, or any evidence of such a video. Found it. https://www.yahoo.com/news/video-captures-moment-high-rise-140614000.html
:)):oops:

Edit/update: https://www.wsj.com/articles/miami-...ve-emergency-response-11624532492?mod=itp_wsj

I attached part of a picture from the WSJ article. The two columns to the left side look like they are damaged. It seems like rebar is splayed and protruding from the columns. The upper brown-colored portions looks like it shifted with respect to the lower white-colored portion. I think the floor of the parking garage has collapsed having separated from the columns. The rebar protruding from the columns seems to have been part of the garage floor.
 

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  • #20
mcastillo356
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A pray for hope, I have no words.
 
  • #22
Astronuc
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Miami Herald reports,
In a 2018 report about the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, an engineer flagged a “major error” dating back to the building’s origin where lack of proper drainage on the pool deck had caused “major structural damage,” according to records released late Friday night by town officials in the wake of the tower’s disastrous collapse on Thursday.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/miami-beach/article252385083.html
The concern was laid out in an October 2018, “Structural Field Survey Report,” produced for the condo association by engineer Frank Morabito of Morabito Consultants. Morabito wrote that the “main issue” at Champlain Towers was that the pool deck and outdoor planters “laid on a flat structure” preventing water from draining. The lack of waterproofing was “a systemic issue” that traced back to a flaw “in the development of the original contract documents” 40 years ago, the report said.
From two days ago,
But while a critical, county-mandated process designed to catch any serious structural damage was underway at the Champlain Towers South, it was not yet complete. The 12-story, 136-unit building was erected in 1981 and was still early in its recertification process, which is required for most non-single-family structures countywide once they turn 40 years old.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article252340108.html
“While the Champlain Towers had begun the 40-year recertification process, the 40-year inspection report had not yet been generated or submitted to the Town,” McCready said in an email.

The engineer retained by the Champlain towers as part of the recertification process was Frank Morabito, according to an attorney for the building’s condo association. Morabito could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Morabito is the same engineer that warned of structural issues in 2018.
 
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  • #23
Vanadium 50
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It's not clear to me that engineering problems with the swimming pool and parking garage did (or for that matter, didn't) have anything to do with the collapse. It will, however, serve to muddy the waters: "It couldn't be that my concrete was poor quality - look at the report on the swimming pool design!"

This will take time. The Kansas City Hyatt walkway collapse had a clear cause (obvious even to a physicist) and the report came out almost a year after the collapse. It's only been two days.
 
  • #25
anorlunda
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If the sinking land theory is proven, it will have huge consequences for all the other beachfront properties from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach.

If you have a big enough budget, single buildings can be saved (the leaning tower of Pisa for example). But hundreds or thousands of buildings seems out of reach even the very rich. Predictions of sea level rise make it worse, because new investments today may have benefit for only a limited number of years.


Historically, the North American East Coast Barrier islands have rapidly moved far east and west. It is only since humans began building structures there that it becomes a problem.

From
https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/pp1827/pp1827.pdf

1624726999872.png
 
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