Miami Building Collapse: Engineer warned of structural damage in 2018 report

At least 160 people remain missing after a residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida on Thursday.

While search and rescue teams are racing to find survivors the reason for the collapse of the 12-storey building has baffled experts.

While some reports have speculated it had been sinking over time, the actual reason for the collapse won’t be known for months . However, a structural field survey has highlighted major cracking and damage.

A structural field survey report completed of the Champlain Towers south condominium complex in 2018 raised concerns about structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “cracking and spalling” located in the parking garage.

The report from October 2018 was included in a series of public records documents that were published on the Surfside, Florida town website.

The report said: “Abundant cracking and spalling of various degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls. Several sizeable spalls were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/ entrance drive/ planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar. Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.”

Spalling is a term used to describe areas of concrete that have cracked or crumbled. The 2018 report also noted that “many of the previous garage concrete repairs” were “failing”. The report also said the waterproofing below the pool deck was failing and causing “major structural damage.”

“…the waterproofing below the pool deck and Entrance Drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond its useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report read.

It further noted that “the replacement of the existing deck waterproofing will be extremely expensive…be disruptive and create a major disturbance to the occupants of this condominium building.”

The report however didn’t give any indication that the structure was at risk of collapse.

Meanwhile, an attorney for the building’s condominium association, Kenneth Direktor, warned against early speculation. He said the building

had been subject to a series of inspections “over the last several months” as part of its milestone 40-year safety certification process.

“Nothing like this was foreseeable,” Direktor said. “At least it wasn’t seen by the engineers who were looking at the building from a structural perspective.”