In recent years there have been a number of high profile disasters where structures have collapsed; in some cases the consequences were devastating. Many things can have an effect on the soundness of a building or other type of structure. Over time, factors such as extreme Cavaliara weather, earthquakes, or simple deterioration will take its toll on a structure. Some recent, high profile news stories have shown us what can happen when a structure can withstand no more.
On June 19, 2008 a construction worker lost his life in Houston Texas when the scaffolding and part of a wall collapsed, trapping several workers in the rubble, and on March 4, 2008 a vacant building collapsed in Harlem New York; prompting the halt of train service in the area due to fear that the vibration from the trains may cause a neighboring building to collapse as well.
In Kenya, on December of 2006, a large building under construction collapsed, injuring dozens of construction workers, and killing more than 11. Building standards appear to be the cause of this tragedy. Another building collapse in Iran on June 30, of 2008 took the lives of 19 people; the cause of this tragic building collapse was the building’s instability.
Collapsing buildings are catastrophic, but there have also been some recent tragedies concerning the collapse of bridges and tunnels. In many of these cases poor construction or erosion are to blame for the disaster.
In July of 2006, a newlywed couple would have their lives together cut short when they made the fateful decision to drive through the Boston Big Dig Tunnel, and over 12 tons of concrete fell onto their car from the ceiling of the tunnel. The husband was able to crawl out of their crushed car, but his wife was not so fortunate, and was killed.
On August 1, 2007 a Minneapolis bridge on Interstate 35-W collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145. This tragic bridge collapse is just another in a long line of structure failures due to poor construction, or erosion that was not attended to.
As a result of these and other tragedies, the soundness of structures has become one of the most scrutinized elements of new construction, and the focus has shifted to methods of ensuring that new buildings and structures are constructed in a way that ensures the building’s longevity.
Buildings, as well as other types of structures are designed to withstand a certain weight load, but what a building or structure may actually withstand can vary, depending on the quality of construction, as well as the quality of the materials used in the construction of the building.
If poorly constructed, any type of structure is subject to collapse, from a single family home to a skyscraper, or long bridge. In most cases the collapse of a building or other type of structure can be contributed to bad design, foundation failure, bad construction, extraordinary loads, or a combination of these factors.
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