News Release

What caused the collapse of the condominium building in Florida?

A preliminary analysis

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Higher Education Press

What caused the collapse of the condominium building in Florida?

image: Comparison between actual and simulated collapse process view more 

Credit: Andy Slater

On June 24, 2021, at approximately 1:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Champlain Towers South Condominium, a 12-story 40-year-old reinforced concrete flat plate structure building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, United States, experienced a sudden partial collapse. Ninety-eight people were confirmed dead and eleven others were injured. What has caused the sudden collapse of this flat plate building?

Professor Xinzheng Lu from the Department of Civil Engineering, Tsinghua University is working toward analyzing the possible causes of the building's collapse and reconstructing the collapse process for a better understanding.

In this study, Professor Lu and his research team analyzed the overall performance and the key components of the collapsed building based on the building design codes. In addition, punching shear and post-punching performances of a typical slab-column joint were studied through the refined finite element analysis. Furthermore, the collapse process was also simulated and visualized using a physics engine.

Through these analyses, several conclusions were reached, including (1) the punching shear strengths of the key joints and the axial compressive strengths of the columns of the collapsed structure are low and unable to meet the requirements of the current design codes; (2) typical slab-column joints have limited strength at the large deformation stage due to poor reinforcement detailing.

In summary, the collapsed structure has a low level of safety margin, robustness, and resistance to progressive collapse, which can inevitably lead to serious consequences if local damage occurs due to unexpected and unforeseeable reasons.


Reference: Xinzheng LU, Hong GUAN, Hailin SUN, Yi LI, Zhe ZHENG, Yifan FEI, Zhi YANG, Lingxiao ZUO. A preliminary analysis and discussion of the condominium building collapse in surfside, Florida, US, June 24, 2021. Front. Struct. Civ. Eng.,

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About Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering

Frontiers of Structural and Civil Engineering (FSCE) provides researchers and practitioners in structural and civil engineering with a unique forum for disseminating new ideas and techniques with significant potential impact. The Editors-in-Chief are Academician Junzhi Cui from Tongji University, China, Jianyun Zhang from Nanjing Hydraulic Research Institute, China, and Surendra P. Shah from Northwestern University, USA. The journal welcomes the following articles: full-length original research papers of significant contributions, comprehensive and in-depth reviews on emerging techniques and methodologies, and short communications on novel perspectives and breaking advancement in engineering applications. The journal is indexed by SCI, Ei, INSPEC, SCOPUS, Source Journals for Chinese Scientific and Technical Papers and Citations, CSCD, etc.

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