The terrifying collapse of a high-rise oceanfront building in Surfside, Florida, has raised concerns that other buildings may be vulnerable.
It is important for tenants and owners to realize that they don’t need to be a structural engineer to identify signs of potential trouble, says Mehrdad Sasani, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern.
Sasani does not believe the destruction of Champlain Towers South is a warning sign that other buildings that are well-maintained in the United States are at high risk. But he adds that this could change as additional information about the Surfside collapse becomes available, and that tenants who notice large cracks in concrete structural elements, or instances of concrete that is crumbling, should seek the advice of a structural engineer.
At least 18 people have died and 145 are missing in the partial collapse of the 12-story beachfront condominium.
“With a less experienced eye you can identify, ‘Is this something that I need to communicate to a professional?’” Sasani said during a Northeastern Facebook Live event on Wednesday. “Of course you don’t need to say at the first stage, ‘I need a complete evaluation.’ We can potentially bring a structural engineer to look at the areas that you are a little bit concerned about.
“Cracking—particularly wide-open cracks in the structural elements—crushing, and spalling of concrete, and potential signs of rebar corrosion, are the ones that would require further evaluation by professionals.”