Chicago pundits and officials weigh in on Miami Beach condo building collapse – NBC Chicago
After part of a condominium building in Miami Beach collapsed early Thursday morning, Chicago experts and officials reassure residents that the city has some of the toughest and strictest building codes from the country.
In a statement, the Chicago Department of Buildings said all skyscraper development plans go through rigorous reviews and inspections take place frequently to ensure the safety of residents inside.
âChicago has one of the strictest building codes in the country,â the department said in a statement. âAll skyscraper development plans are subjected to multiple reviews of all relevant disciplines, especially structural, to ensure long-term safety. As additional protection, homeowners must obtain a Certificate of Occupation, which has its own set of requirements, before allowing occupants into the building. We remain committed to the safety requirements outlined in Chicago building codes and updating those codes as conditions change and new technologies are introduced. “
Authorities say at least one person has died and 99 are currently missing after the collapse on Thursday morning. The collapse of the 12-story beachfront building covered several blocks with a light coating of dust, and rescuers are still digging through the rubble, with officials fearing the total death toll could quickly worsen .
Authorities do not know what caused the building to collapse.
Chuck Guedelhoefer, one of the country’s leading forensic engineers, said investigators in Miami would focus on the area around the building first.
âThe first objective would be to see if there was something environmentally that could happen at the time of the collapse,â he said.
Investigators will then work to determine exactly how the collapse happened.
âLook how the debris ended up. The debris ended up in the form of a classic and progressive failure, âhe said. âImagine that a column compresses and the entire floor slab unscrews towards that column. They will lean on each other, like shingles on a roof.
Guedelhoefer says engineers will have to take into account the salty and changing seaside environment.
âProblems in salty environments (can include) corrosion, and corrosion is one of the things that we put out, one that we would check out,â he said. “We check this by looking at the concrete debris, testing it for chlorides.”
Chicago officials also note that Chicago and Miami have very different conditions that require very different building code requirements. Miami must prepare for annual hurricanes and significant exposure to salt water and salt water vapors in the air and on the ground.
âI think Miami and Florida have improved their inspections quite dramatically over the past 10 to 15 years,â Guedelhoefer said. “This followed a wave of hurricanes that destroyed buildings that should not have been damaged by the hurricanes.”
While investigators have not determined the cause of the collapse, Guedelhoefer says these types of finite structure collapses are extremely rare.