LO 1 – Communication in Projects
Regency Hotel walkway failure, Kansas City 1981
The Hyatt regency hotel is in Kansas City, Missouri, United States. On July 17th,
1981 the fourth and second floor walkways collapsed onto a tea dance which has
been held in the hotel’s lobby. The hotel officially opened on first of July
1980 this mean the collapsed happened a year after the opening day. This
collapse was on the top of the deadliest structural collapse in the United
State for 20 years before the 11th September, the Trade Centre towers.
After the failure the Hyatt
company said they will sue 12 parties for
failure and some of the most important members of the list of responsible of
the failure are Havens Steel Company, Gillum-Colaco
Consulting Structural Engineers Inc and Eldridge & Son Construction Co.
Gillum, and G.C.E. International, Inc. found guilty and this has been
found by Wayne G. Lischka an architectural engineer hired by The Kansas City Star newspaper who discovered a significant change to
the original design of the walkways.
The construction on the hotel begin in
May of 1978 and after two years in July 1980 Construction of hotel complete,
and the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel opened for business. On July 17th,
1981 almost, a year after the opening date the connection of the supporting
rods in the fourth floor failed to support the more weight and both walkways
fall together onto a tea dance which has been held in the hotel’s lobby and
killed 114 and injured 200 others. The communication between G.C.E and
Havens steel company determine design change from one rod system to a two-rod
system. During October and November 1979 report from engineer to owner,
assuming overall safety of the entire building.
the Walkways each approximately 120
feet long and 64,000 lbs in weight, made of steel, glass and concrete connected
the north and south wings of the hotel on floors 2, 3 and 4. Second floor
walkway most easily accessible to atrium main floor. Third floor walkway – led
to the hotel ballroom Fourth floor walkway was least accessible and carried
The G.C.E provide better support for
each side of the fourth-floor walkway to reduce the risk of the collapse, but
the change would not have mattered after the two-rod system, hanger rods
carried more load. Each rod was supposed to support 90Kn of load before the
change but after it, each of the them support 180KN of load.
The serious flaws of the revised
design were compounded by the fact that both designs placed the bolts directly
through a welded joint connecting two C-channels, the weakest structural point
in the box beams.
change in the design caused the failure to happen because of the extra load on
the fourth-floor walkway. The Collapse due to excessive load, the fourth-floor
walkway collapsed and fell onto the second-floor walkway both walkways then
fell onto the lobby below severed the hotel’s sprinkler system and flooded the
lobby killed 114 people and injured over 200 peoples.
Design Changes the hanger rod design was changed it went from a one-rod system
to a two- rod system. Design was changed to simplify the assembly task they
doubled the load on the connector of that each rod was supposed to support 90kN
of load, change caused them to each support 180kN of load Original Design
Changed Design. Haven Steel
Company opposed Jack D. Gillum’s original design for the cross-beams it
required the whole rod to be screw threaded to hold the fourth-floor walkway in
place the Haven Steel thought the threads would be damaged when put in place.
Haven Steel proposed the change from one-rod to two-rods. This change forced
the fourth-floor walkway to support the weight of the second-floor walkway.
G.C.E.’s design stated that flange beams were to be used along the walkways’
sides and hung from a box beam for better support. One end of the walkways was
designed as a sliding bearing a roller and other end of the walkways were
supposed to be welded to a fixed plate a pin. The fixed plate end was changed
to be a hinge. Change would not have mattered if it was still a single rod
system and after becoming a two-rod system, hanger rods carried more load.
Haven’s change to design, that was then approved by G.C.E., ultimately caused
the walkways to collapse.
The main point of doing research about
the failures around the world is to negotiation about the reasons and find out
how can be possible that a small change in the structural cause a huge failure.
At this project if the change did not happen
or by spending more time on it to analyse the problems which can a single
change bring the collapsed could not be happened and less money spent on the
project and no one killed in the collapsed, but because the engineers did the
change by their selves and thinking to add more support for the part which has
got more weight on it, they can reduce the risk of any problems, but most be a
test before, during and after the project to insure the safety of the main
It is now also required that all load
bearing calculations must be checked by a city appointed engineer and that
checks be formal and not spot checks. As an industry, it is important for all
responsible parties to understand the challenge learned as a result of this
fatality. Design presents the industry with a challenge to anticipate
any failed detail and to correct it within the design process.
The collapse of the
atrium roof during construction was indicative of problems with the overall
After the failure Jack D.
Gillum and Associates who had the final drawings were found guilty and they all
lost their respective engineering licenses in the states of Missouri, Kansas
and Texas this mean they can never to any construction works in this city and
this is the reason why he moved to another city.
The life and insurance
company of the Hyatt regency Hotel for this specific project, gave $140 million
to the victims and the families of both judgments and settlements in subsequent
civil lawsuits (The law relating to civil wrongs).
The worst things in the Civil Engineering History that we can
negotiate and research about are these failures that happened around the world
but on the other hand and from another point of view we can learn many things
from them and make sure that they are never going to happen in the work or
projects which we are involved. We can learn from this project that every
little things in the structural world is matter and no matter how small it is.