Yesterday in the early hours of the morning, a 12 story condo building in North Miami Beach collapsed. The security video footage from the neighbouring complex shows what appears to be a spontaneous event. It will take a long time and a detailed investigation to determine the likely cause. It’s possible the true root cause may never be discovered. On today’s show I’m going to play armchair engineer and speculate on what might have contributed to the catastrophic failure of this building.

It’s entirely possible that there was more than one failure. Each failure by themselves might not have been enough to cause the building to collapse. But in combination, the structure was weaken enough in key places that all it took was a catalyst. Think of a pin popping a balloon. It takes a very small amount of energy in the right place to pop a balloon.

Buildings next to the ocean present special problems. The way these concrete buildings are constructed relies upon two materials working together to keep the building and all of its spans standing upright.


Host: Victor Menasce