Monday, July 5, 2021

A Cacophony of Design Flaws and Construction Mistakes 
By: Diane Sori / The Patriot Factor / Right Side Patriots / Right Side Patriots Radio
I don’t know if you guys recognize that. Did you see how thin those slabs are and how thin those columns are?...“That was a structurally deficient building, in my opinion.” 
- President (and master builder) Donald Trump on the Champlain Towers South Building collapse

I knew the building...many of us 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 now all that remains is a shell of its former self for on June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m. EST, Champlain Towers South partially collapsed. And while, as I write this, 22 people have been confirmed dead with 128 others remaining missing or unaccounted for, the fact is that with 12-stories of concrete and rubble laying on top of them reality dictates that they most surely are dead. And this, albeit on a much smaller scale, sadly brings back 20-year old memories of a sunny day in September when so many lost family and friends when two buildings collapsed leaving over 3000 Americans dead. 

And just like back in 2001, there is one key question that now demands an 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.” 

So why do I believe he is off base with his “demands on all our buildings” scenario? Because while it's true that sea levels naturally do rise and then recede back, it is also true, but not well known, that as the beaches along Miami Beach's shoreline began eroding back in the late 1960's when high tides brought the ocean's water much closer into shore and at times entering the underground garages of some existing oceanfront buildings, what's not being told by the Democrat controlled mainstream media is that this scenario is extremely unlikely to happen today.

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."

But before we get into the "something else" let's first eliminate the sinkhole musings...a sinkhole in no way destroyed the pool, the deck, nor did it suck the South Tower into it for a sinkhole has telltale signs, none of which have been discovered on scene. And besides, this building’s specific location is not now nor has it ever been a likely spot for sinkholes. 

So what really brought the Champlain Towers South building down? Let me explain what I now believed happened.

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 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 sadly, when the pool deck collapsed ten minutes prior to the tower, it actually fell six feet into the middle of the garage...due to what's called "punching shear"...with space #78 now becoming the central point of the collapse as the thinner support pillars that surrounded that area were not able to bear the weight of the building...which thicker and wider pillars would have been able to do.

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' 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 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.

And over time this could also have led to a critical breech in the bottom floor at its vertical to horizontal joining point causing it to eventually give way and collapse in on itself, thus bringing the rest of that tower's section down along with it. A sudden horrific collapse with the tower's final landing point looking not unlike the fertilizer bombed Murrah Federal Building.

Now as for the visual flashes of light seen in the videos emanating from the 10th and 12th floors and from the rooftop...those flashes were most likely the electrical workings of the elevators now being compromised as the elevators, housed within where the buildings were joined together, were drawn down into the vertical shafts, where the stairwells also were, which would explain what some survivors said about their running towards the elevators and stairs to escape but there being neither elevators nor stairs there...just a smoldering collapsed shaft with cables dangling, sparks popping, and concrete falling.

So 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 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.”

A lot of money for sure but well managed and diligent condominium board of directors and associations make sure reserves are in place for emergency repairs in addition to routine building assessments being passed onto the condo owners for more expensive and time consuming repairs. This of course is on top of monthly maintenance fees all condo owners pay, but all said costs are clearly stated in one's ownership deed. So the question is why weren't the repairs mentioned in the structural engineers report done or at least started back in 2018, let alone why weren't certain issues addressed back in the 1990's when previous reports show that the South Tower was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year. In fact, back then a few residents even sued the board after issues regarding cracked walls and balconies remained unaddressed even though it was well known that cracked walls and balconies could be an indication that sinking has occurred...sinking which in turn could eventually affect the stability of a building.

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.

Now claiming that it takes time to start repairs of the nature and scope mentioned in the report, the board's lawyer, Kenneth Direktor, claims that, “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 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.

Simply, no matter what the cause of the South Tower collapse is eventually determined to be...and know of course that faulty structural issues will surely be at the crux of it...meaning issues regarding the actual construction of the building, materials used, and/or previous complaints not addressed, etc...the folks who sat on the Champlain Towers condo's board must also be held legally somewhat responsible. Responsible and found guilty of culpable negligence if nothing else for they knew well the dangers that could possibly happen yet did nothing in a timely manner to see that those issue were addressed.

And now as lawsuits are being filed on the resident's behalf...lawsuits serving as the touch off point for a class action lawsuit that is sure to follow...the blame game will sadly continue to be played by those Democrats who, of course, will not let this tragedy go to waste. And probably with 150 or so of our fellow South Floridians laying dead, it's we, along with the families who have lost loved ones and friends, who will grieve with them. What did happen should never have happened and political agendas must be put aside so that some form of closure can take place as loved ones are buried and life goes on while lawsuits start landing in the courts...lawsuits that will take years to adjudicate.

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. 



Now also to be considered in the South Tower's collapse is something called post-tensioning which is simply a method of producing pre-stressed concrete, masonry, and other structural elements. In fact, post-tensioning tendons within the concrete form-work of a high-rise for example, are done in a manner similar to that of installing rebar...something alluded to the Tower's fall...with post-tensioned concrete being stronger and more flexible than standard conventional steel-reinforced concrete. Simply, if the cables of the floors...including the garage floor...of the South Tower were not well connected to the vertical columns or were rusted and/or water damaged, that weakens the floor and can cause a collapse especially to a building that has what's called 'flatplate' floor in floor slabs that are relatively thin concrete slabs supported directly on columns...meaning the building is lightly braced by shear walls...which Tower South was.

*************************************************************************************                For more political commentary please visit my RIGHT SIDE PATRIOTS partner Craig Andresen's blog The National Patriot to read his latest article, Liberals With Bloody Hands Pointing Fingers.

*************************************************************************************            RIGHT SIDE PATRIOTS...LIVE!

Tomorrow, Tuesday, July 6th, from 7 to 8:30pm EST, RIGHT SIDE PATRIOTS 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.

Hope you can tune in to RIGHT SIDE PATRIOTS on Click 'LISTEN LIVE' starting at 6:50 pm EST with the show beginning at 7pm EST.