When and Why Do Buildings Fall Apart?

They are built to with stand the test of time, so what makes them collapse?
Loukia Papadopoulos

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When you think of buildings, you think of strong, resistant structures that stand the test of time and a variety of circumstances. And most buildings are, indeed, built to be sturdy.

However, accidents always happen, leaving behind unimaginable disasters. For instance, on June 24, 2021, a 12-story condo near Miami collapsed in a matter of seconds, killing many residents. It is now considered one of the deadliest building collapses in the history of the U.S.

The question then becomes: what could possibly make buildings fall apart when they are created to stand the test of time? The collapse of buildings comes down to five factors: overloading, material deterioration, ground settling, design flaws, and natural disasters.

Overloading refers to when there is more weight on a portion of a building than the structure is designed to support. Deterioration refers to chemical changes in materials. Ground settling occurs when a structure is built on unstable land. Design flaws are all about redundancies or alternate load paths and natural disasters are more often earthquakes, fires, or hurricanes.

How do these elements contribute to eroding a building's stability? How often do they occur and how big of a disaster do they cause? We answer all these questions and more in our video.

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