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5 Times Structures Failed Because of Weak Construction


Despite the marvels of modern architecture and construction, the world has also seen its fair share of failure. Sometimes projects are spectacular on paper but do not translate successfully in the real world. Unfortunately, when this does happen, it can be a disaster.


The failure of the construction can be due to poor planning on using cheap alternates as construction materials. Steel TMT bars are by far the best material that contractors should be using. However, there are times where TMT bars are not used in spite of their proficiency.


Here are 5 times that structures failed because of weak construction.


The Tacoma Narrows Bridge

Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington was the third-longest suspension bridge in the world, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge. However, it collapsed only four months after opening for public use. Even under moderate wind speeds, the bridge would shake like a sine wave. Construction workers noticed problematic buckling even while building the bridge, leading to its famous nickname “Galloping Gertie”.


The constructors chose to use a cheaper option of plate girders. The girders, though, were only one-third the height of the originally proposed, which resulted in a disproportionate depth-to-width ratio. As a result, the bridge was extremely flexible and vulnerable to high-speed winds. On November 7, 1940, the bridge started to twist and buck wildly. When a 40 mph wind struck, the bridge finally gave way, dropping into the river below.


A walkway at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City

On July 17, 1981, 114 people were killed and an additional 200 people were injured at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City when the fourth-floor elevated walkway collapsed. It fell onto another walkway two floors down, and eventually into the lounge below.


The issue lay in the change from a single set of hanger rods threaded through the upper walkways to a double-rod system that was anchored to the upper walkways themselves, adding immense and undue stress. The design was incapable of meeting the minimum safety requirements but had gone unnoticed in the building process.


Ancient Roman Stadium

In 27 AD, the seating structure of a gladiator stadium in Rome collapsed. What went wrong? The builders aimed for a quick construction over a sturdy one. The builders used cheap materials (mainly wood) to build the stadium, and it was erected on unstable foundations.


Even though records of the disaster come from ancient texts, the narrative is similar in all accounts of the story. When 50,000 people flocked to Atilius' stadium to watch a gladiator fight, 20,000 of the audience members fell to their death as the seating collapsed. After this incident, the Roman senate enforced stronger laws with regard to building processes.


‘Tallest’ Cathedral in the World

In France rests the tallest cathedral in the world. However, this cathedral is unique- its construction has not been finished for 400 years! To achieve the height, the builders and planners had to push their resources to the limit, and the building suffered as a result.


Started in 1225, the foundations indicate that the cathedral was meant to be truly immense. However, the only part that was finished for use, was the choir vault and the central nave. In 1284, part of the choir vault collapsed due to strain. Repairs were made but it was very difficult to finish the construction due to the mere height of the cathedral. Since 1600, reinforcements have been continuously added to the structure to keep it stable.


Leaning Tower of Pisa

This tower needs no introduction. The leaning tower of Pisa is a marvel of the world. Every year it draws thousands of tourists to its leaning structure. However, this iconic leaning tower is a product of architectural plunder!


The tower was built on an entirely unstable foundation. An inadequate limestone base of only 3 meters deep was built into a dense clay bed. Only three levels of the planned eight were completed. Only five years after completion, the tower started to achieve its now-famous lean, slanting at nearly 10 degrees. However, the tower is now a wonder of the world, so maybe it has not failed after all.


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