Q&A / 

Building Collapse Cause

Digging too close to a building's foundation can result in catastrophic problems. A few years back in Cincinnati, OH, construction next to a school building resulted in such a failure Sections of the school building collapsed, leaving a gaping hole in the side of the school. You can read more about this collapse on the Cincinnati Enquirer site. The article is Mix of causes likely in Summit collapse.

Just recently, I received the following email from Michael L. The email shows the catastrophic results of what happens when you dig a hole next to a building. In this case, an entire building in China collapsed. The photos below tell the story. Pay attention to the huge tension cracks that radiate from the corners of the windows. This shows you the enormous stress that happened as the building started to fold over and when it crashed to the ground.

Below is the exact text of the email I received along with the captions at the bottom of some of the photos. The captions were written by someone else, not me.

Author's Note: March 4th, 2010

I received an angry email from Ruth Tang about one of the captions you'll see below. She was deeply offended by the wording implying that everything made by the Chinese was of poor quality. I didn't write the captions, I am just the messenger. Above I state who sent me the information in the first place.

I'll add that there have been engineering failures on every continent. The most recent one here in the USA that comes to mind is the horrible tragedy in Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkway collapse. One hundred and fourteen people met their Maker that day. To the best of my knowledge, no one died in this collapse in China.

"Oops! Beijing , we have a problem!!!!!!! Anyone who bought a condo here surely has a problem. Talk about a collapsed market!

YES, IT'S A 12 STORY BUILDING IN CHINA LYING ON THE GROUND.

Collapsed Building

  • An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 4.6 meters.
  • The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 10 meters.
  • The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north.
  • This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tons, which was greater than what the pilings could tolerate. Thus the building toppled over in the southerly direction.

The building as built.
First, the apartment building was constructed.

Garage being dug on the left side.
Then the plan called for an underground garage to be dug out.
The excavated soil was piled up on the other side of the building.

Heavy rains
Heavy rains resulted in water seeping into the ground.

Ground washing out

The building began to tilt.  Then it began to shift and the hollow concrete pilings were snapped due to the uneven lateral pressures

Building collapse

And thus was born the eighth wonder of the world.

Building collapse

If the buildings were closer together it would have resulted in a domino effect.
Building collapse

Building collapse

Building collapse

Building collapse
Now that, folks, is a snafu. Don't you feel better now, that these are the folks manufacturing nearly EVERYTHING we buy and use today?"

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