On June 24, 2021, a portion of Champlain Towers South, a 12-story condominium in Surfside, Florida, near Miami Beach, collapsed around 1:30 am. It was one of the most deadly structural collapses in U.S. history, with nearly 100 fatalities . Forensic investigations of the event will likely take years to complete, but there’s a lot we already know about the collapse. I want to summarize the events of this unthinkable tragedy, talk about a few of the structural engineering issues that may have played a part, and finally explain the process of forensic structural investigations and what might result from learning the technical cause of this catastrophe. I’m Grady, and this is Practical Engineering. Today’s blog is on the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building.
Champlain Towers South was built in 1981 along with a nearly identical North structure just up the street. The 12-story oceanfront tower was constructed of steel-reinforced concrete in the small Miami suburb of Surfside. The building sat atop an underground parking garage that extended below the adjacent common area that residents called the pool deck. The building had 136 condominium units.Unlike an apartment property with a single owner, Champlain Towers South was collectively maintained by those 136 condo owners through an association with board members.