“This could be seen to come,” said Gerardo Feldman, an Argentine architect based in that city. The material used for the construction of the residence may be the cause of the collapse.
While firefighters and rescue teams redouble their efforts to search for the missing, the main question that Miami authorities are analyzing at this time is what caused the collapse of one of the buildings of the Champlain Towers complex, located between 88th and Collins Avenue. in Surfside, near Miami Beach.
Gerardo Feldman is an Argentine architect based in the state of Florida. In dialogue with Infobae, he was emphatic: “This was seen to becoming.” The real estate agent commented that a few years ago he participated in an investigation into another building that, most likely like the Champlain Towers, was built decades ago “with beach sand.”
“That corrodes all the irons and they disappear. It happens a lot in buildings near the beach (…) Formerly in the ’60s and 70s, they saw sand on the beach and used it to build. That sand has a lot of salt; the concrete runs out of iron, it is as if it had no bones ”, he explained.
Regarding a study they carried out in 2015 on the state of a building in Bal Harbor, he said that the ironwork of the structures was so deteriorated by sand that they fell apart very easily. “The investigation was on a building where there was fear of collapse. We did the study on what was happening, the city of Bal Harbor took notice of that, and today the building exists, it was repaired ”.
He also recalled that more than ten years ago the authorities had to evict the people who were in the Castle Beach building “due to the same problem with the irons.” “At some point, something like this was going to happen [because of the collapse at Champlain Towers]. When it was the Castle Beach thing, nobody took notice of that, the city let it pass.
However, Feldman considered that from the tragic collapse of this Thursday, the authorities will pay special attention to the state of the city’s buildings, but especially to those “that are on the beach.”
The architect also stressed the importance of supervision over buildings, “provided they are done well.” As detailed, local legislation indicates that residential buildings must be inspected after 40 years of construction and then every ten years.
The supervision can last three months or so. A correct activity implies the study of everything (structure, plumbing, air conditioners, the facade, the electricity system, etc.) for the preparation of a report that must be presented in the city. Municipal authorities said Thursday that that process was underway for the building, but had not yet been completed.
“From now on the city will begin to review more deeply. After Hurricane Andrew, the hurricane portion was taken into account. Now the same will happen with this. It’s going to change, this is a disaster, this is the first time something like this has happened in Miami, “said the real estate agent.
Despite his hypothesis about the construction with beach sand, Feldman clarified: “That is my opinion, it is not yet officially known what happened.”
Another version about the possible cause of the landslide is that exposed by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Land and Environment at Florida International University, who stated that the building, built-in 1981 on reclaimed wetlands, had been unstable for a year.
A 2020 study by the researcher warned that the complex has been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s. He noted that in those years it was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year, but the sinking could have slowed or accelerated since then.
“We saw that this building had some kind of unusual movement,” Wdownski acknowledged to USA Today.
In recent years, Wdowinski and his team have investigated which parts of Miami are sinking, primarily to identify where rising sea levels and flooding could have the greatest impact. Data collected between 1993 and 1999 showed that most of the city was not sinking appreciably, except for a few hot spots in the region, mostly in the western part of Miami, where the elevation is lower. “The level of subsidence in the Champlain condominium was unusual,” said the researcher from Florida International University.
“Buildings should be inspected long before 40 years, especially in a county where rising sea levels can affect the foundations,” said Sen. Annette Taddeo, a Miami Democrat. And he added: “We must prioritize infrastructure to keep our community safe.”
The Miami Herald newspaper published today an opinion piece in which it argued that the “horror” that occurred this Thursday in Miami “should serve as an urgent alert that the oldest structures in Florida need a more strict audit and supervision by of the government”.
In that sense, he recalled the collapse of the FIU pedestrian bridge that occurred on March 15, 2018, in front of the Florida International University campus, in which six people died and nine were injured: “It taught us many lessons about the ignorance of the cracks in the new construction, and on the elevation of the structures while people circulate underneath, this collapse of the condominium must also be the object of the most rigorous of investigations.
While the authorities continue to work to determine what caused the collapse – the possibility of an attack has already been ruled out – at least one person dead and 99 missings have been reported so far. The search tasks are led by Miami-Dade County firefighters with the help of trained dogs and are hampered by the rain that falls in South Florida.
The big fear is the possibility of the building collapsing completely while search and rescue is being carried out. For that reason, not only Champlain Towers South has been evacuated, but the adjoining buildings.