Just four years after completion, the space frame roof of the Hartford Civic Center came crashing down 83 feet to the floor after a snowstorm. The majority of the blame for this disaster was placed squarely on the shoulders of the design engineers and architects who overlooked vital miscalculations and failed to fix design flaws when they started to appear. Gentlemanly 220) In 1970. Vincent Killing agreed to be the architect for the project. He hired Frail, Blue, and Wesleyan, Engineers for the structural design. Construction on the Hartford Civic Center project started in 1972 with the plan to build an arena with a 2. 4 acre, state- of-the-art, space frame roof. The proposed roof consisted of offset upper and lower grids made from horizontal steel members that were connected every thirty feet by steel diagonal members.
The upper horizontal members were braced by additional steel diagonals, and the mall diagonals were braced at their mold-plants by horizontal steel bars (Doris 284). The roof frame was completely assembled on the ground and inspected before it was lifted into its final position. Upon inspection, excessive deflections in some of the nodes were found. The engineers were notified, but nothing was done to fix the problem. The roof was lifted into position and deflection was measured to be twice that predicted by computer analysis.
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The engineers response to this was that such discrepancies between actual and theoretical were normal and should be expected. When the subcontractor began fluting the steel frame supports for fascia panels on the outside of the truss he ran into great difficulties due to excessive deflections of the frame. Upon notification of this problem, the general contractor “directed the subcontractor to deal with the problem or be responsible for delays. ” (ENRON, April 6, 1978). The roof was completed on January 16, 1973. Why was this roof unable to hold up In a snowstorm?
When the individual top chord members of the truss, or frame, began to buckle due to the stress on the roof from the weight of the snow and ice, the load that those members carried was distributed to adjoining top chord members. The adjoining members, unable to handle the added weight also began to buckle, which in turn caused the lower chord members to suckle bringing the whole roof down to the arena below (Odor’s 284). Buckling is the sudden uncontrolled lateral displacement of a column, at which point no additional load can be supported.
The sideways deflection or buckle will eventually fail in bending If loads are Increased. Long slender columns are prone to fall by buckling- a function of the column’s dimensions and its modulus of elasticity (Mooneye 342). The reasons and theories as to why the roof collapsed can be found in the work of the design engineers, architects, construction managers, and city officials. The engineers depended on computer analysis to assess the safety of their design.
The roof design was extremely susceptible to buckling a mode of failure not considered by the Due to the construction manager’s refusal to hire a structural engineer for the purpose of inspection, no one realized the structural implications of the bowing structures. Finally, the Hartford Department of Licenses and Inspection did not require a peer review of the arena design. If a second opinion had been required the design deficiencies responsible for the arena’s collapse probably would have been covered (Feel and Carper, 1997).
In researching this project a lot of what I found blamed the engineers for relying on computer analysis to assess the safety of their design. This assignment was to investigate the constructor’s role so I want to talk about that a little bit. After learning about how this project failed I realized how important it is for construction managers to have a basic understanding of structural design. Had the construction manager on this Hartford Civic Center Job understood the need for a structural engineer I might not be writing this paper.
How he overlooked the deflection is shocking, that is a huge red light to get some structural help, especially on a Job of this magnitude. In looking at the construction process a little broader than that of the construction manager; everyone involved, from the architect and engineer, to the sub-contractors doing the labor need to group together and work as a unit so failures like this don’t occur. It seems like there was a huge lack of communication between parties involved. Communication is a huge part of achieving and accomplishing a project successfully.
This cannot happen or problems ND failures like this will occur.