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Experts studying Surfside collapse, remains are questioning building’s initial construction

The remaiins of Champlain Towers South was demolished late Sunday night, but engineering experts are still studying its images following the initial collapse.
The remaiins of Champlain Towers South was demolished late Sunday night, but engineering experts are still studying its images following the initial collapse.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – What remained of Champlain Towers South was demolished late Sunday night, but engineering experts are still studying its images following the initial collapse.

The pictures and what was left standing are telling seasoned engineers a story. Three columns that remained intact after the collapse are raising eyebrows.

“There seem to be less reinforcing steel than what the drawings showed,” said expert Shankar Nair. “Either less, or improperly placed, or both.”

The reinforcing steel does not conform to the drawings.

Shankar Nair has spent 52 years designing and investigating tunnels, bridges, and buildings.

He’s the former Chairman of Council of Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat and a member of National Academy of Engineering.

“They say there should be a certain amount of rebars in that area of the slab, and some have to be right over the column,” he said. “The number right over the column should be four. In most places we see two, not four. It is possible two others were outside the footprint of the column, so it disappeared with the failure, but they should have been right over the column. We don’t see that.”

Nair has concerns about the pool area as well.

Witnesses claimed the pool deck and garage collapsed prior to the tower coming down

“For instance, there is a joint around the swimming pool,” Nair explained. “Where there is a clean break, some of the pictures show a clean break in the slab around the swimming pool, which shows there was a joint there, which means concrete was poured in different times in two sides of the joint. That is quite normal.

“But the joints show there should be a significant reinforcing steel through that joint and I don’t see that, in the pictures after the collapse. It should not have failed, so there is something wrong with the way it was built. The only way I can see this having happened is there was some significant flaw out the building.”

The man hired by the town to investigate the collapse believes more analysis needs to be done.

“All concrete is made to crack, so you will see cracks in all concrete,” said forensic engineering expert Allyn Kilsheimer. “The issue is what does it mean that is the bottom line? In my opinion, a problem with a balcony, we see those all over the country. And cracked concrete, exposed reinforcing steel, typically is not going to cause the entire building to fall.

“I can’t think of any other failure that surprised me more than this.”

COMPLETE COVERAGE: SURFSIDE BUILDING COLLAPSE:


About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.