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Studying Surfside collapse: Renowned civil engineer hired to investigate

Allyn Kilsheimer investigated the 9/11 Pentagon attack and the FIU bridge collapse.
Allyn Kilsheimer investigated the 9/11 Pentagon attack and the FIU bridge collapse.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – World-renowned civil engineer Allyn Kilsheimer investigated the 9/11 Pentagon attack and the FIU bridge collapse.

He’s now studying why the Champlain Towers South condo building gave way in Surfside, starting with a list of possible causes.

“The key here is to look at all the different things we think could be a problem, then in the computer models that we develop, we say if the concrete strength was lower than it was supposed to, would that make it fall down?” the president of KCE Structural Engineers said in an interview with Local 10 News.

Despite the danger, Kilsheimer said he’s planning to go inside the part of the condo building that didn’t collapse.

“So we can determine ... what happens if the remaining building gets hit by a hurricane, and ... how we can remove the debris that’s up against the building without letting the building fall over,” he said.

[ALSO SEE: Meet the engineer hired to get to the bottom of the Surfside collapse]

The Miami Herald published photos they say show cracks in the concrete, exposed rebar and wet floors in the pool equipment room at Champlain Towers South two days before the collapse.

In a 2018 study, a consultant reported concrete spalling and cracks in the column and wrote that failed waterproofing under the pool deck was causing major structural damage.

Local 10 News asked Kilsheimer if negligence is a factor he will consider as a possibility.

“We’re going to find out the engineering reasons why this happened. Then that’s when lawyers get involved and decide that,” he said.

Residents of other beachfront condos are now wondering if their buildings are safe.

Miami Beach city records show there have been five inspections that determined Maison Grande Condominium to be unsafe. In fact, residents walk past a violation notice that says “unsafe structure” every day.

At Champlain Towers South, a team of six scientists and engineers with the National Institute of Standards and Technology will also visit to determine if they will launch a full investigation that could eventually change national building codes.

That’s the same federal agency that investigated the fall of the World Trade Center.

HOW TO HELP: Here’s a list of resources to support those impacted by building collapse


About the Authors:

Madeleine Wright is a general assignment reporter for Local 10 News. She joined the team in March 2017.

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.