Civil engineer says no motive for Houston residents to panic after a Florida constructing collapses

HOUSTON Search parties, including a specially trained dog, search the rubble in Surfside, Florida for signs of life.

At least 11 people were dead and 151 people were missing after the collapse of Champlain Towers South last Thursday. The building had significant cracks and fractures in the concrete that required extensive repairs, according to a 2018 report from a building construction company.

The fatal building accident has made some in the Houston area ponder the safety of Houston’s high-rise apartment buildings.

“In general, buildings don’t collapse suddenly,” says Prof. Joseph Colaco of the College of Architecture at the University of Houston. “There are warning signs. There will be cracks in the floors, cracks in the pillars, the concrete will flake off. “

Professor Colaco is also a civil engineer who has designed buildings in Houston and across the country. He said from his experience an investigation of this magnitude could take months.

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“It will take a while. Maybe at least six months for an investigation, material testing, calculation, etc., ”said Colaco. “I was involved with the forensic scientist about 15 years ago in the World Trade Center collapse, and this investigation and report went on for almost a year.

Houston historian Mister McKinney of Mister McKinney’s Historic Houston said the city of Houston had a number of high-rise apartment buildings built over the same period as the one in Surfside, such as The Parklane in the Museum District and The Conquistador in Sharpstown. He said some even used similar concrete and materials.

“All of those buildings in the Galleria, west of Houston, including Greenway Plaza, are still there,” McKinney said. “Even in the Museum District, which was also built in the early 1980s.”

Colaco said Florida high-rise residential buildings are inspected after age 40 and then every 10 years. He said structural inspections are conducted differently in Houston.

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“There’s really no need to inspect a building after it’s completed unless there are telltale signs again,” he said.

A Houston city spokesman told KPRC 2 that the Houston Public Works Habitability team inspects apartment buildings, such as apartments, every four years for city code. The spokesman also said that high-rise buildings are usually inspected by firefighters.

Colaco said the official cause of Surfside’s collapse is known, Houstoners shouldn’t panic.

“There are thousands and thousands of buildings in the United States and they have done very well,” he said.

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