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  • Tony Putsman

Are We Complacent About the State of Construction?

Since our last blog ‘Are we learning from failure’, there has been another catastrophe- this time it is the Champlain Towers South apartment building in Miami, with at least ninety eight fatalities amongst the residents. Questions have been raised regarding the structural integrity of the forty year-old complex. Could a similar event happen in the UK or other ‘advanced’ societies??


A recent BBC report highlighted a problem with the structural integrity of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) planks that were used in the walls, floors and roofs of NHS buildings and schools between the 1960s and the 1990s (with an expected design life of 30 years). West Suffolk Hospital is one of those affected, spending ‘tens of millions of pounds’ to temporarily support roofs and floors identified as at risk of collapse.


In a separate case, Balfour Beatty reported last week that it had been hit with a potential liability of ‘’up to £50 million to fix façade problems on a high-rise development in London’’. Construction was only completed in 2016 but a structural assessment in June indicated that ‘‘the stone panels affixed to the façade will need to be modified, reinforced or replaced to meet performance requirements.’’


How many other buildings have been constructed in recent years with similar potential for failure?


How many designers and contractors acquiesce to client demands to build quickly and cheaply?


Are we, the architectural and engineering professionals, devoting sufficient time and consideration to the long-term consequences of project decisions?



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