Monday, June 28, 2021

Could Florida condo collapse happen here?

                   Baths of Caracalla, by Aegidius Sadeler II (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     Humans are by nature cautious. We are the descendants of those who fled at the snap of a twig, not those who shrugged and told themselves, “That can’t be a saber-toothed tiger coming; I’ll just keep eating these delicious berries ...”
     Even today, when we read stories of tragedy, the tendency is to try to distance ourselves from whatever bad thing is going on: that’s far away, happening to very different people under very different circumstances than our own.
     Which is why Thursday’s collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, with some 150 residents missing, buried in the rubble, can be so terrifying to Chicagoans who live in apartment buildings: it’s hard to dismiss as a Florida phenomenon.
     “I have a bad feeling in my gut about this and those sort of buildings in Chicago,” wrote one reader who lived for years in a high-rise on Sheridan Road. “Chicago has the additional worries of corruption of inspectors and building materials quality in addition to the weather concerns.”
     That’s quite a charge, and I wouldn’t pass it along if I didn’t remember “Operation Crooked Code,” in 2008, when the feds probed bribery in Chicago’s buildings and zoning departments, coming up with a dozen convictions.
     Immediately after the collapse, the Department of Buildings pointed out, “Chicago has one of the strictest building codes in the country.” Correct, if disingenuous. The issue isn’t whether those strict codes exist, but were they enforced when a building was constructed? Or did the inspector look the other way?

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  1. 1. It cost $80 million to put up the Standard Oil Building, now Aon.
    It apparently cost over $100 million to replace the marble with granite.

    2. When they were building the Hancock Building, a couple of the caissons, that went down to bedrock, about 175 feet, had to be drilled out & replaced, due to voids in the concrete.

    3. The Unity Building formerly at 127 N. Dearborn had a slight lean to one side, but nowhere near as much as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, or its half size replica on Touhy in Niles. It was torn down in 1989.

  2. Miami-Dade County is right there with Chicago in terms of corruption. After Hurricane Andrew destroyed an entire development of recently built homes it was discovered that inspectors rubber stamped approvals for all those houses. It turns out not so surprisingly that the houses were not built to code.
    As Carl Hiaasen wrote in his "Stormy Weather", the inspector never got out of his car and would have had to have raced down the street at 100 mph to approve the number of houses he said he did in the amount of time he indicated.
    Add to that the amount of money each owner at the condo would have had to be assessed to fix the building, it's no wonder nothing was done.


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