I knew the building...many of us did...my husband even had a patient who once lived there. One of the older buildings along Collins Avenue in the little town of Surfside on Miami Beach, Champlain Towers, a 12-story, 40-year old beachfront condominium, was built to withstand extreme-weather conditions including hurricane-force winds. Home to both permanent residents and “snowbirds”... “snowbirds” who rented out their condos during the off-season...the Champlain Towers was simplified luxury, built more in an old school manner and design than that of today's glass towers that reach up and touch the sky.
And just like back in 2001, there is one key question that now demands an answer...as in why did the Champlain Towers South building collapse. And while the Democrats, including Joe Biden, as a means by which to push forward their climate change agenda do hope that's why the building fell, but in my opinion know it is not. And I say this no matter the words of one Ben Schafer, a Johns Hopkins University structural engineer who upon hearing of the buildings collapse stated in part that, “Climate change is changing the demands on all of our buildings across the US...and sea level rise is one example of something that’s much broader.”
And why...because of something called The Miami-Dade County Beach Erosion Control Master Plan...a plan initiated under the auspices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers...a plan that when completed in the 1980s saw 13-miles of "protective beach fill" extending from Government Cut (where Miami Beach begins) through Haulover Beach Park and ending at the Town of Golden Beach...with Surfside Beach, hence The Champlain Towers, within the said fill range.
This project was constructed via a series of six contracts and utilized sand dredged from offshore "borrow sources" which led to the widening of the beaches to at least 200+ yards as can be seen in the pictures to the right. In much simpler terms, this plan saw the widening of the entirety of the beaches stretching from the tip of Miami Beach up to basically the Broward county line with structural solutions like "breakwaters and gains" also being added to help keep the ocean waters from encroaching on the oceanfront properties. So if water did routinely enter the South Tower, as some claim, the fault would not be because of climate change but because of serious and sudden beach erosion or some breach in either the Army Corps of Engineers beach upkeep of the "breakwaters and gains"...which is highly unlikely...or because of shoddy building maintenance or entirely "something else."
While some residents continue to question the now clearly seen visible space beneath the pool, know that it is not uncommon for condo size pools to have just such a space for that's where the pipes and plumbing needed to keep said pool up and running are laid, and it also leaves enough crawl space for workers to make certain repairs if need be. However, something that does raise serious concern is the deck itself...a deck that is basically a reinforced concrete slab with decorative pavers on top...a deck which as per code had the required waterproofing membrane being laid correctly under the concrete slab, still saw the deck itself being flat and not sloping away from the pool, thus not allowing for proper water runoff and drainage.
So where does what would then be standing water go? That which did not evaporate would eventually sink down between the pavers...what with Florida seeing as much rain as it does during the summer months...in time would breach the waterproof membrane and affect the now aging concrete with said water eventually landing in the 120-space parking garage...a garage which not only extended under what is the hollow deck but which butts right up to the pool's edge. This would explain the water many residents complained about seeing in the garage over the years.
Now here it's important to note the pillars themselves, their size variations, and their actual placement within the garage. And know that parking space #78 is really ground zero for what was to follow for it was around this area where the critical load bearing pillars are...or should I say should have been...for these pillars were not the much needed wider pillars that can be seen in other areas of the building, but were a series of five thinner pillars not capable of holding up what was the key central load bearing points of the building.
And with Miami structural architect Kobi Karp now also calling the collapse the result of an “internal failure,” he adds to engineer Jeff Ostroff's scenario...which can be seen in his video 'How It Collapsed' below...by saying that a compromise at the point where the pillars and the two parts of the L-shaped building joined together is the point where the most load bearing stress would be...as in where the horizontal slab of the building meets the vertical support wall as well as the support pillars...and where water could also have gradually seeped underneath...and even wicked upwards...over the years causing corrosion, rust, etc. to have built up.
now that you know what I believe to be the actual physical cause as
to why the South Tower collapsed, let me tell you exactly whom I
believe is to blame. Simply, in my opinion, it's both the Champlain
Tower's original architect who designed a highly flawed pool deck and
in his possibly cost cutting measures regarding the pillars and their
load bearing capabilities, coupled with the past and current Champlain
Towers condo board who were willfully negligent in their duties...as
in gross negligence regarding structural defects they knew about for
years but which they did not attend to.
And here let me begin by stating that while residents did file complaints with the board over the years about, amongst other things, water in the garage, cracks in the walls, pool issues, apartment ceiling leaks, etc., in 2018 as the building was nearing its county mandated 40-year re-certification, a mandatory Structural Field Survey Report done by engineer Frank P. Morabito (PE, SECB) of Morabito Consultants, Inc., found numerous problems with the building that needed to be addressed in what was stated as “in the near future,” and included words such as, “significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public." And in said report to the condo board the report also stated that “the significant deterioration would require an estimated $15 million dollars in repairs.”
But here know that the South Towers sister building, the North Tower, apparently, at least at this point, does not have these same issues yet it still raises questions as to building materials used, codes being or not being met, and safety inspections being made when the South Tower itself was under construction. But this does not excuse the 2018 condo board from not starting the repairs cited in the engineer's report immediately. And know that a few of the same folks remained on the 7-member board today...with two sadly among the missing...and that said board has now “lawyer-ed up” as they say.
They were just about to get started on it,” and that he has seen nothing to “suggest that the collapse had anything to do with the issues identified in the engineering review,” and that if there had been anything to suggest that a collapse was possible, the review process...as in the time repairs were given the okay to commence...would have been “handled very differently.”
Really, “handled very differently,” well here's an interesting side note regarding just that. It seems that back in 2018, the board was divided and squabbling amongst themselves about initiating the repairs cited in the engineer's report especially after then Surfside building official Rosendo Prieto reviewed said report and noted that while the report "was not in the format for the 40 year certification,” he nevertheless determined that the necessary data had been collected and that “it appears the building is in very good shape.” And yet some on the board were not buying it with the board's then president Anette Goldstein resigning from the seven-member board in the fall of 2019, due to the “slow response and continuing debate” among board members about the scope, truths, and costs of the work that needed to be done. Simply, Mrs. Goldstein was scared not of what was, but of what could and eventually did happen. And know that soon after she resigned from the board four other board members did so as well. You can read Mrs. Goldstein's actual letter of resignation below.
In other words, the Champlain Towers tragedy will now become part of South Florida's legacy for many years to come. And maybe because of just that, some across the board long overdue construction changes will be made to assure that such a collapse never happens again. A legacy for much needed positive construction change will, as numerous times and instances have shown, sadly been accomplished as the result of innocent lives having been lost.
Copyright © 2021 Diane Sori / The Patriot Factor / All rights reserved.
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Craig Andresen and Diane Sori discuss 'A Cacophony of Design Flaws and Construction Mistakes'; 'Liberals With Bloody Hands Pointing Fingers'; and important news of the day.