Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway Collapse – A Case Study
On July 17, 1981, two suspended walkways collapsed in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City. It was the deadliest structural collapse at the time in the history of the United States. Approximately 2,000 people had gathered in the atrium to participate in and watch a dance contest. Dozens stood on the walkways. One hundred fourteen people were killed. It was an accident that could have been prevented if a better coordinated engineering review had taken place in the shop drawing process.
The hotel’s design called for walkways to span the atrium at the second and fourth floors. The original design specified continuous hanger rods run from the ceiling through the fourth-floor beams and on through to the second-floor beams.
During the course of construction, shop drawings prepared by the steel fabricator suggested that a set of two hanger rods replace the single hanger rod between the second and fourth-floor walkways. This change doubled the load. The shop drawings were stamped by the architect, structural engineer, and contractor indicating their review.
This building failure illustrates the importance of good communication among the project participants, since any engineer or architect who took the time to review the impact of this change could have seen the possibility of a structural problem. Unfortunately, it appears that each reviewer stamped the submittal but assumed that someone else would complete the review.
The judge held the structural engineering consultants liable for the accident.
What went wrong?
PMI Talent Triangle Skill: Technical Project Management