Engineers who have visited or examined photos of the wreckage of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex have been struck by a possible flaw in its construction: Critical places near the base of the building appeared to use less steel reinforcement than called for in the project’s original design drawings.
The observation is the first detail to emerge pointing to a potential problem in the quality of construction of the 13-story condo tower in Surfside, Fla., that collapsed last month, killing at least 24 and leaving at least 124 still unaccounted for.
Reached by phone, Allyn E. Kilsheimer, a forensic engineering expert hired by the town of Surfside to investigate the collapse, said the investigation was still in its early stages. But he confirmed there were signs that the amount of steel used to connect concrete slabs below a parking deck to the building’s vertical columns might be less than what the project’s initial plans specified.
“The bars might not be arranged like the original drawings call for,” Mr. Kilsheimer said in an interview. He said he would need to inspect the rubble more closely to determine whether in fact the slab-to-column connections contained less steel than expected.
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