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Collapsed Condo

Rhea

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I was looking at an article about that collapsed condo, and noticed that several of the cars under the neighboring building fell as the concrete below them collapsed. Does this look like one of those sinkholes at work, or perhaps erosion of the sand under the structure?

Sink hole, unusually repeating high-high tides, etc?
It was also interesting to see how the center section fell first, and then the wing on the end.

All things that got my attention.


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DBT

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Whatever the ground problems are, a structural collapse like that suggests that it wasn't built to standard, that there were serious structural issues with the building.
 

Rhea

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Hearing reports now that structural problems were indeed identified 3 years prior.

I feel so bad for all of those people and their families. What a horror.
 

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Anything that we read right now is conjecture at best, fabricated conspiracy theories at worst. The engineering analysis will take months. We'll just have to wait.
 

Rhea

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Anything that we read right now is conjecture at best, fabricated conspiracy theories at worst. The engineering analysis will take months. We'll just have to wait.

The engineering analysis I referenced was one that was performed three years ago and recommended structural repairs. NPR was reporting on it.

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...ctural-damage-engineers-report-surfside-miami


NPR said:
"I'm under the impression that it is something that nobody had seen until yesterday when we started looking back into the records to try to understand if there was anything in the record that would indicate why this building fell down," he said.

"We did not know about this report," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters Saturday morning. "We are obviously very interested in all of the evidence that's coming to light."

There's that phrase. Of course you didn't know. Should the County Engineering Office have known? Should they have read it? Or do you mean to say engineer's report with major structural damage is just left up to the HOA who will of course balk at the cost.

Speaking to reporters, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the decision of whether to evacuate that building would be left up to the Surfside mayor.

Yeah. "Leave me out of this." eh DeSantis? No political upside on this one.


Wait'll the investigation on this comes out. It'll be a lengthy story that starts with campaign contributions by builders who steer the building code and end with homeowners left to their own libertarian ignorance.
 

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Anything that we read right now is conjecture at best, fabricated conspiracy theories at worst. The engineering analysis will take months. We'll just have to wait.

The engineering analysis I referenced was one that was performed three years ago and recommended structural repairs. NPR was reporting on it.

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...ctural-damage-engineers-report-surfside-miami

It was noted that there was damage to some of the concrete structure that needed to be repaired, but we have no way of knowing if it was due to an undiscovered sink hole, unexpected corrosion, rising sea level, failure to build to code, or if that damage was even what initiated the collapse. It will be months before anyone knows exactly what happened. Remember how long it took for the world trade center report to fully explain why the buildings collapsed, and there was video of the planes hitting the building and the fires burning.
 

Rhea

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Anything that we read right now is conjecture at best, fabricated conspiracy theories at worst. The engineering analysis will take months. We'll just have to wait.

The engineering analysis I referenced was one that was performed three years ago and recommended structural repairs. NPR was reporting on it.

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...ctural-damage-engineers-report-surfside-miami

It was noted that there was damage to some of the concrete structure that needed to be repaired, but we have no way of knowing if it was due to an undiscovered sink hole, unexpected corrosion, rising sea level, failure to build to code, or if that damage was even what initiated the collapse.

Oh, I agree that we can’t know. I was posting about seeing the fallen floor and noting that it ain’t right. Agree that we can’t know for sure. But speculation is something that people start with when they are trying to understand a problem. We bring up competing hypotheses and examine them.

Agree that we can’t draw conclusions yet, of course.
 

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A structural engineer on another message board I'm on noted that most of the bedrock on the Florida coasts consists of limestone that's kind of like a sponge in that it allows water to flow through it, in and out with the tides. And a reason why sea walls around Miami won't help it stop ocean level rise.
 

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Anything that we read right now is conjecture at best, fabricated conspiracy theories at worst. The engineering analysis will take months. We'll just have to wait.

My daughter is a Ph.D. forensic structural engineer who specializes in the failures of concrete structures. She has already been contacted about this failure. She has been provided with pictures and drone videos of the building.

She is shared between a general engineering consultant and her forensic consultants. She was told to expect that it would take six months plus any protracted litigation. She is first up as an expert witness for her firm.

However, she is pregnant with her first child and won't have to do any fieldwork. Another grandchild! She is due in January. But forensic work is her passion and I know that she will do this work as long as she can.
 

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A structural engineer on another message board I'm on noted that most of the bedrock on the Florida coasts consists of limestone that's kind of like a sponge in that it allows water to flow through it, in and out with the tides. And a reason why sea walls around Miami won't help it stop ocean level rise.

Fortunately, Florida is a red state and they don't have to pay any attention to the problems from climate change. It is nothing but changing weather, right? And the weather is always changing, right?

Georgia has made it illegal to adapt to climate change in the state.
 

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So someone did read the report.

Oh those darn HOA meetings. They write down everything.

Drip said:
A town inspector had assured residents of a high-rise condominium in Surfside, Florida, that their building was sound a month after an engineering report warned of major structural damage that required prompt repair in 2018, U.S. media reported.
Well, I hope you put something in writing and tossed it in your supervisor's lap. You know how it goes, never be the last guy with the secret.

Drip said:
Prieto is no longer employed by Surfside, according to NPR. He told the Miami Herald newspaper he did not remember getting that report. Reuters was not able to contact Prieto.
Maybe he was the last guy with the secret. Amatuer.
 

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From what I could tell after the news came out, it appeared to be caused lower in the structure. The video implies similar, that the top collapsed after the bottom was dropping. A report from 3 years ago indicated drainage issues that was compromising the concrete, which was expected to get worse exponentially, though, the inspection DID NOT imply warnings of a catastrophic failure.

I'm not thinking it was a sinkhole, as a sinkhole large enough to induce that level of a failure (this is assuming the building is even founded on limestone) would almost certainly require the entire structure to fail. Additionally, the debris would have fallen in a large hole as well. This debris appears to be too tall for that. This failure appears to be localized, indicating, amateurly to me, a local fault of deterioration in the structure, as if this were a design issue, if likely would have failed a long time ago.

This is an awful event, which I believe is the worst 'natural' structural collapse in our nation's history regarding death toll.
 

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From what I could tell after the news came out, it appeared to be caused lower in the structure. The video implies similar, that the top collapsed after the bottom was dropping. A report from 3 years ago indicated drainage issues that was compromising the concrete, which was expected to get worse exponentially, though, the inspection DID NOT imply warnings of a catastrophic failure.

I'm not thinking it was a sinkhole, as a sinkhole large enough to induce that level of a failure (this is assuming the building is even founded on limestone) would almost certainly require the entire structure to fail. Additionally, the debris would have fallen in a large hole as well. This debris appears to be too tall for that. This failure appears to be localized, indicating, amateurly to me, a local fault of deterioration in the structure, as if this were a design issue, if likely would have failed a long time ago.

This is an awful event, which I believe is the worst 'natural' structural collapse in our nation's history regarding death toll.

The Hyatt Regency Hotel walkway collapse in 1981 may still end up with more deaths than the Florida condo in the end. Though whether you consider that structural collapse to be "natural" depends on your own personal defintion of "natural":

[YOUTUBE]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnvGwFegbC8[/YOUTUBE]
 

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It is impossible to tell what caused the collapse just by looking at the low-resolution video. As a structural engineer, I suspect the partial collapse of the high-rise superstructure was triggered by one or more foundation elements that failed either simultaneously, or over an extended period of time. The defect was severe enough to override any structural redundancy that the codes would have required at the time it was built, and it may have been driven by a slow process of "unzipping" over the years, where multiple elements in the load path failed one by one over time as more load was moved to them from a failure of a neighboring element. Until the final link in the chain collapsed and the tower came down.
 

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It is impossible to tell what caused the collapse just by looking at the low-resolution video. As a structural engineer, I suspect the partial collapse of the high-rise superstructure was triggered by one or more foundation elements that failed either simultaneously, or over an extended period of time. The defect was severe enough to override any structural redundancy that the codes would have required at the time it was built, and it may have been driven by a slow process of "unzipping" over the years, where multiple elements in the load path failed one by one over time as more load was moved to them from a failure of a neighboring element. Until the final link in the chain collapsed and the tower came down.

But this stuff can be found before a whole building collapses if one wants to find it?
 

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I don't think this is a sinkhole. It looks like the ground level was compromised by an underground parking structure, but then the damage levels off once it hit the actual ground.

aa
 

atrib

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It is impossible to tell what caused the collapse just by looking at the low-resolution video. As a structural engineer, I suspect the partial collapse of the high-rise superstructure was triggered by one or more foundation elements that failed either simultaneously, or over an extended period of time. The defect was severe enough to override any structural redundancy that the codes would have required at the time it was built, and it may have been driven by a slow process of "unzipping" over the years, where multiple elements in the load path failed one by one over time as more load was moved to them from a failure of a neighboring element. Until the final link in the chain collapsed and the tower came down.

But this stuff can be found before a whole building collapses if one wants to find it?


Foundations are buried in the ground and they can't be inspected easily (assuming it was the foundations that failed). But there are usually warning signs associated with foundation problems that can be detected through inspection (like settlements, movements and cracks). I work on bridges, so I don't know about commercial/residential building codes, but I can't imagine there being stringent post-construction inspection requirements on such structures. At least I have never heard of such, unless actual problems/signs of distress have been reported.
 

Rhea

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I can't imagine there being stringent post-construction inspection requirements on such structures. At least I have never heard of such, unless actual problems/signs of distress have been reported.

I’d like to make a report of actual problems, please.
 

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If the building was sound and the failure was caused entirely by ground conditions, you'd expect to also see serious issues with neighboring buildings. I suspect that it's a combination of structural issues and ground conditions.
 

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What unforeseeable building collapse would be compete without engineers/inspectors/owners who knew of the building's lack of structural integrity but decided to do nothing?
 

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Two days before condo collapse, a pool contractor photographed this damage in garage

Miami Herald said:
“There was standing water all over the parking garage,” the contractor, who asked not to be named, told the Miami Herald. He noted cracking concrete and severely corroded rebar under the pool.

“He thought it was waterproofing issues,” the contractor said of the staff member. “I thought to myself, that’s not normal.” He said Jose told him they pumped the pool equipment room so frequently that the building had to replace pump motors every two years, but he never mentioned anything about structural damage or cracks in the concrete above.

The deepest puddle of standing water, according to the contractor, was located around parking spot 78 — an area that building plans show is located directly under the pool deck where in a 2018 inspection report, engineer Frank Morabito had flagged a “major error” in the original design that was allowing water intrusion and causing serious damage to the structural concrete slabs below.

Also: Missing Florida woman was on phone with husband, as building came crumbling down
Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton had heard her building's swimming pool collapse before making the frantic call.


NBC News said:
A woman, among those missing from the Champlain Towers South collapse, was on the phone with her husband moments after an outdoor swimming pool caved and then the line went dead.

Rescuers still have not found Cassondra “Cassie” Billedeau-Stratton, 40, who was staying on the fourth floor of the doomed Surfside, Florida condo complex, when she frantically called her husband and described the massive sink hole beneath their fourth-floor unit that had once been the building's swimming pool.
 

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Remember how long it took for the world trade center report to fully explain why the buildings collapsed, and there was video of the planes hitting the building and the fires burning.

If there's a sinkhole under that whole mess, I wonder if that fact would be widely stated. It's not usually good business to panic multimillionaires en masse.
Surfside is basically a sandspit on a limestone base. Neither sand nor limestone are particularly stable. High rise construction should have long since been banned.
 

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Man, I thought ODNR well logs could be useless. Florida's well catalog contains almost no useful information at all, making it impossible to figure out what is going on under the ground surface. Based on the location and a healthy amount of ignorance, I'd think bedrock isn't shallow shallow in that area. This seems to back up my hunch.
 

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Story in the NY Times reporting that that an engineering inspection report in 2018 had uncovered the presence of significant damage to columns and structural slabs at the basement level- consultant called it "major structural damage", and had recommended rehab measures. Rehab of the structure was apparently in the planning stages when the collapse occurred. The damage was apparently caused by long-term environmental conditions (salt in the air) and a persistent problem with leaking water from a pool located above the basement area that had corroded structural columns and slabs. The condo association knew about the problems and were working on a plan to address it, although they were likely not aware of the threat of imminent collapse. The rehab would involve large assessments on the homeowners ranging up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is one reason why progress was apparently slow.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/06/29/us/miami-building-collapse
 

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HOAs of a multi-unit multi-level structures should not be making decisions as to when structural repairs should be made. It should be forced by the county through the engineer’s office and assessed to the homeowners.
They do it here forcing homeowners off septic systems and onto sewer. They are given a ten year payback. They can like it or they can lump it.
 

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Story in the NY Times reporting that that an engineering inspection report in 2018 had uncovered the presence of significant damage to columns and structural slabs at the basement level- consultant called it "major structural damage", and had recommended rehab measures. Rehab of the structure was apparently in the planning stages when the collapse occurred. The damage was apparently caused by long-term environmental conditions (salt in the air) and a persistent problem with leaking water from a pool located above the basement area that had corroded structural columns and slabs. The condo association knew about the problems and were working on a plan to address it, although they were likely not aware of the threat of imminent collapse. The rehab would involve large assessments on the homeowners ranging up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is one reason why progress was apparently slow.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/06/29/us/miami-building-collapse

Thanks. I'd upvote this post as the most informative. Here is a version that doesn't require a subscription:

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-miami-area-condo-collapse/2021/06/29/1011280545/letter-from-condo-board-warned-buildings-damage-has-gotten-significantly-worse

Seems like it was structural problems with the subterranean levels of the condo and not earth movement.

aa
 

atrib

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Story in the NY Times reporting that that an engineering inspection report in 2018 had uncovered the presence of significant damage to columns and structural slabs at the basement level- consultant called it "major structural damage", and had recommended rehab measures. Rehab of the structure was apparently in the planning stages when the collapse occurred. The damage was apparently caused by long-term environmental conditions (salt in the air) and a persistent problem with leaking water from a pool located above the basement area that had corroded structural columns and slabs. The condo association knew about the problems and were working on a plan to address it, although they were likely not aware of the threat of imminent collapse. The rehab would involve large assessments on the homeowners ranging up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which is one reason why progress was apparently slow.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/06/29/us/miami-building-collapse

Thanks. I'd upvote this post as the most informative. Here is a version that doesn't require a subscription:

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-u...ildings-damage-has-gotten-significantly-worse

Seems like it was structural problems with the subterranean levels of the condo and not earth movement.

aa

Thanks. The NPR site has a link to the actual letter drafted by the condo association president which summarizes the details of the rehab work. Estimated cost of the repairs was about $16M.
 

atrib

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The New York Times is reporting that Miami-Dade County is conducting emergency audits and/or inspections on 4-storey and higher structures of similar age in the neighborhood that have not yet been re-certified following a 40-year inspection, which is a code requirement. There are 41 structures on that list, of which 24 have previously been deemed "unsafe structures" because they did not comply with all applicable code requirements. The report does not clarify what "unsafe structure" means in this context; my opinion is that it could apply across a wide range of conditions, potentially ranging from malfunctioning elevators or unsafe balconies, to a structure that is on the verge of catastrophic collapse. So far, apparently no major structural concerns have been identified by the county.
 

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Regarding repairs, at least half was cosmetic or regarding rails and balconies. It is unclear how much was structurally related.
The New York Times is reporting that Miami-Dade County is conducting emergency audits and/or inspections on 4-storey and higher structures of similar age in the neighborhood that have not yet been re-certified following a 40-year inspection, which is a code requirement. There are 41 structures on that list, of which 24 have previously been deemed "unsafe structures" because they did not comply with all applicable code requirements. The report does not clarify what "unsafe structure" means in this context; my opinion is that it could apply across a wide range of conditions, potentially ranging from malfunctioning elevators or unsafe balconies, to a structure that is on the verge of catastrophic collapse. So far, apparently no major structural concerns have been identified by the county.
I can't imagine a structure that is imminently to collapse would be an "unsafe structure". There would likely need to be another category, liked "condemned" and immediately abandoned. But yes, "unsafe" is likely not to be confused with being labeled as "doomed building" and can refer to anything from structural, electrical, or mechanical. Nomenclature here is crucial and the press can't be trusted to understand it. Those people were too busy getting drunk in college while engineers were busting their butts on homework.
 

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Thanks. I'd upvote this post as the most informative. Here is a version that doesn't require a subscription:

As an aside, a little trick I learned is that if you sign up for the NYT daily email blasts, you get several more free page views.
 

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New report unearthed which baffles journalists who know nothing about science of engineering. The report which included terms and language that journalists don't understand, led to frustration as to whether the report was important or not. Desperate, journalists contacted structural engineers across the country to try to figure out what the report meant.

At one point, the report indicated: "yielded some curious results as it pertained to the structural slab’s depth", however, the report didn't explicitly say what they meant by that, though, the report could have elaborated and the journalists were powerless to figure it out. When engineers were unable to answer the question, things just got worse for the journalists who now had to qualify all of their statements.
 

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Article from CNN on a tower in San Francisco.
article said:
But, since it opened, the hulking blue-gray tower has sunk 18 inches into the soft downtown soil on which it was built -- and it's tilting, according to the Millennium's current engineer, Ronald Hamburger.
And then this thing.
article said:
Hamburger, who has monitored the settlements of the Millennium Tower and evaluated their effect on the structure since 2014, told CNN in a statement that the building was designed for earthquake resistance, remains safe and is not at risk of collapse.

"The collapse of the residential building in Surfside ... was tragic, but it is far too early to speculate about what caused that disaster -- and any potential comparisons with Millennium Tower would be reckless and premature," Hamburger said.
This is definitely true, if not a little cold sounding. Comparing the events in Florida with a structure in San Francisco is unwarranted. This is one of those articles that comes up because a journalist equates all engineering issues together in one lump.

That said... 18 inches of settlement?! Does that stat come with an asterisk?

The fix?
article said:
A $100 million fix, set to be completed next year, involves the installation of piles into the bedrock of downtown San Francisco beneath the building, according to Millennium spokesman Doug Elmets. The piles will then be tied to the existing foundation, he said.
Beneath the building? Is that journalism-speak? I'd think some sort of structure mat with the piles generally being done in a ring around the building. Installing piles beneath a building almost is never an option, and I would assume micropiles (typically used to underpin underperforming spread footings) wouldn't be used to bear on rock because of the 'micro' part making them not very good at end bearing. Maybe drilled shafts instead? Regardless, sounds like a mess.

I'm really just confused why this thing wasn't put on rock to begin with. After all, if it can settlement that much, it can't possibly be decent material for seismic concerns.

One thing that comes to mind, while bearing on rock will deal with the future settlement issue, it doesn't address the tilting. I assume that will need to add bracing to manage that.
 

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My practicing architect friend states that those buildings go down like dominos if one structural column is compromised. I got the impression there isn't any redundancy built into the structure. I'm very familiar with spalling and seeing rebar exposed and supports crumbling because I live in the rust belt where we apply millions of tons of salt to our roads in the winter. I've seen retaining walls suffer the same fate as salt creeps into the structure.

My amateurish guess is that columns were compromised and could not take movement/subsidence. So was the foundation the problem or the spalling? Likely a combination.
 

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...was the foundation the problem or the spalling? Likely a combination.

Surely both were factors, and probably exacerbated by subsidence or even collapse of the underlying limestone. I don't know much about the engineering that goes into those projects, but it seems intuitive that if the structure was vulnerable due to spalling and foundation issues, even the collapse of a small cavity (such as could be formed in 40 years, even if it was solid when the structure was built) beneath the foundation could have been the trigger.
 

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...was the foundation the problem or the spalling? Likely a combination.
Surely both were factors, and probably exacerbated by subsidence or even collapse of the underlying limestone.
Seeing that limestone might be over 100 ft deep (possibly much deeper), I'm guessing limestone issues weren't a problem.

I don't know much about the engineering that goes into those projects, but it seems intuitive that if the structure was vulnerable due to spalling and foundation issues, even the collapse of a small cavity (such as could be formed in 40 years, even if it was solid when the structure was built) beneath the foundation could have been the trigger.
The trouble could more likely have to do with drainage or lack there of (as cited by engineers that inspected the place). Water, especially with salt isn't a friend to structures.
 

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My practicing architect friend states that those buildings go down like dominos if one structural column is compromised. I got the impression there isn't any redundancy built into the structure. I'm very familiar with spalling and seeing rebar exposed and supports crumbling because I live in the rust belt where we apply millions of tons of salt to our roads in the winter. I've seen retaining walls suffer the same fate as salt creeps into the structure.

My amateurish guess is that columns were compromised and could not take movement/subsidence. So was the foundation the problem or the spalling? Likely a combination.
There is redundancy, you lose one column, you probably don't have catastrophic issues, but if you have a bunch of columns that are weaker due to weathering, and one fails, while a number of other ones have lost their redundant capacity, this is a big problem. And generally, one element just doesn't go bye-bye without others getting weakened by whatever weakened the initial element.

Foundations can fail spontaneously, but it isn't terribly common, even in Florida, with limestone that has holes in it.
 

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Blah, none of this matters. In about 100 years satellite pictures of that area will look like a pool full of floaties. Throw another 200 years on that to find Florida appearing on US Maps as several Islands with a new state capitol temporarily thumbtacked on Orlando. As an Orlandoian, I hope my descendants manage to hold & sell my house as a multi-million dollar waterfront property at that time.

I see a lot of death in the future for coastal Florida and it's going to be mostly poor folks (like in the case of this collapse). Miami is going to have it worse than any other City. I wonder how many hurricanes it will take for the migration north to begin? I'm guessing the big one. Cat 5 directly hitting Miami with massive casualties and displaced people, Then most of them who evacuated won't return. Maybe stay in Orlando or further north. Rebuilding efforts slowed by lack of interest, and further Job losses bleeding the rest of the population out of the city. Rename it Detriot Florida the floating City, not as attractive as Venice.

This is just my pessimistic & uninformed pissed-off about a building just falling the fuck down side of me venting.
 

TomC

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I see a lot of death in the future for coastal Florida and it's going to be mostly poor folks (like in the case of this collapse).

:) You're just adorable sometimes.
You think that poor people live in beach side condominiums with swimming pools!
Tom
 

Gospel

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I see a lot of death in the future for coastal Florida and it's going to be mostly poor folks (like in the case of this collapse).

:) You're just adorable sometimes.
You think that poor people live in beach side condominiums with swimming pools!
Tom

Tomc. Miami consists of more than just beachside condominiums. It's 35.99 sq mi (not including water for now).


Edit: Manhattan is building a wall to protect against sea-level rise and they are 13 feet above sea level. Miami is about 6 feet above see level. There are humans taller than that that aren't remotely close to breaking a guinness world record.

Edit: Sorry mods for the Derail.
 

TomC

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I see a lot of death in the future for coastal Florida and it's going to be mostly poor folks (like in the case of this collapse).

:) You're just adorable sometimes.
You think that poor people live in beach side condominiums with swimming pools!
Tom

Tomc. Miami consists of more than just beachside condominiums. It's 35.99 sq mi (not including water for now).

I'm aware of that.
I quoted your exact sentence and responded to it.
Tom
 

TomC

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Gospel

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I can't afford to get us a room so can it. :p
 

TomC

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I see a lot of death in the future for coastal Florida and it's going to be mostly poor folks (like in the case of this collapse).

:) You're just adorable sometimes.
You think that poor people live in beach side condominiums with swimming pools!
Tom

Tomc. Miami consists of more than just beachside condominiums. It's 35.99 sq mi (not including water for now).


Edit: Manhattan is building a wall to protect against sea-level rise and they are 13 feet above sea level. Miami is about 6 feet above see level. There are humans taller than that that aren't remotely close to breaking a guinness world record.

Edit: Sorry mods for the Derail.

I honestly don't see this as a derail so much as an expansion of the topic in a broader context.

The owners of that building kept kicking the can down the road, instead of recognizing the need for inconvenient and expensive work and dealing with the issues. Eventually, disaster( long in the making) struck. Nobody who owned a condo in that building believed that it was going to collapse today. So, instead, they kept putting it off until "today" came.

The rest of your post was kinda about the modern elite behaving like the HOA of that building. Believing that climate disasters won't happen while they're responsible.

Tom
 

Loren Pechtel

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My practicing architect friend states that those buildings go down like dominos if one structural column is compromised. I got the impression there isn't any redundancy built into the structure. I'm very familiar with spalling and seeing rebar exposed and supports crumbling because I live in the rust belt where we apply millions of tons of salt to our roads in the winter. I've seen retaining walls suffer the same fate as salt creeps into the structure.

My amateurish guess is that columns were compromised and could not take movement/subsidence. So was the foundation the problem or the spalling? Likely a combination.
There is redundancy, you lose one column, you probably don't have catastrophic issues, but if you have a bunch of columns that are weaker due to weathering, and one fails, while a number of other ones have lost their redundant capacity, this is a big problem. And generally, one element just doesn't go bye-bye without others getting weakened by whatever weakened the initial element.

Foundations can fail spontaneously, but it isn't terribly common, even in Florida, with limestone that has holes in it.

This. You can lose one column when somebody blows it up or the like. However, with neglect like this they're all varying degrees of bad and by the time one fails the others are in no shape to take up the load.
 

Shadowy Man

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I wonder how many hurricanes it will take for the migration north to begin? I'm guessing the big one. Cat 5 directly hitting Miami with massive casualties and displaced people, Then most of them who evacuated won't return. Maybe stay in Orlando or further north. Rebuilding efforts slowed by lack of interest, and further Job losses bleeding the rest of the population out of the city. Rename it Detriot Florida the floating City, not as attractive as Venice.

As a counterpoint, New Orleans still exists.
 

TomC

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I wonder how many hurricanes it will take for the migration north to begin? I'm guessing the big one. Cat 5 directly hitting Miami with massive casualties and displaced people, Then most of them who evacuated won't return. Maybe stay in Orlando or further north. Rebuilding efforts slowed by lack of interest, and further Job losses bleeding the rest of the population out of the city. Rename it Detriot Florida the floating City, not as attractive as Venice.

As a counterpoint, New Orleans still exists.

That's not much of a counterpoint, really.

Katrina was a Cat 4 that came ashore in another state, Mississippi. New Orleans missed the brunt. Had it remained a Cat 5 and hit New Orleans directly, I'm not sure New Orleans would still exist, exactly.
Tom
 
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