Tall & Urban News

Origins of Surfside High-Rise Collapse Still Point to Pool Deck

Photo by Shawn Henley on Unsplash
Photo by Shawn Henley on Unsplash
08 March 2024 | Surfside, United States

A federal probe into the June 2021 collapse of a Surfside condo tower that left 98 people dead continues to point to the building’s pool deck as the most likely initiation point of the collapse, investigators said on Thursday, 7 March 2024 at a meeting in Maryland.

In their first public update since last fall on a years-long effort to determine what caused the tragedy, investigators for the National Institute of Standards and Technology presented a detailed look at how they are analyzing video footage and eyewitness interviews to inch closer to a conclusion.

Featured Buildings

Investigators said there is “strong evidence” that the collapse began in the pool deck of the 12-story, L-shaped Champlain Towers South building, though they have not yet ruled out an initial failure point “in some part of the tower” that could have led to the collapse of the pool deck.

In addition to testing materials from the collapse site and building complex computer models, investigators have been interviewing survivors and other eyewitnesses with help from a team at Florida International University.

They have also been analyzing several videos to better understand the collapse sequence, including a video taken by a tourist on the night of the collapse that showed water gushing into the garage and chunks of concrete covering the floor on the north side of the building.

Investigators said they worked with the FBI to enhance the video, which helps prove that the pool deck collapsed into the parking garage before the east portion of the tower collapsed. Investigators have yet to determine how the pool deck collapse may have caused the tower to fall minutes later. But computer simulations performed by researchers at the University of Washington in collaboration with the Herald showed that when the deck fell and disconnected from a perimeter wall at the south end of the pool, damage would have spread into the tower along the ground floor near the gym at the center of the L-shaped structure.

The ultimate findings will have implications for millions of high-rise dwellers around the world, with recommendations on changes to building codes and construction practices that could prevent a similar catastrophe from happening elsewhere.

A draft report of the investigation is still more than a year away, anticipated in May 2025. A final report is expected in September 2025.


Original reporting from Miami Herald, as seen on Yahoo.