Gaithersburg NIST Investigating Florida Condominium Collapse

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, headquartered in Gaithersburg, launched a full technical investigation into the cause of a partial condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida on June 24. .

The investigation into the Champlain Towers South condominium could take years and aims to create recommendations for building code improvements to prevent a similar incident, NIST noted in a press release.

NIST’s Christopher Segura (foreground) and Sissy Nikolaou look at the exposed truss of a three-story concrete column that search and rescue teams excavated from the collapse site for NIST’s investigation. Credit: NIST

“This is an unspeakable tragedy, and like all NIST investigations, we will conduct evidence-based research to prevent such tragedies in the future,” said James Olthoff, who currently serves as Undersecretary at the trade for standards and technology. and Director of NIST. “We intend to undertake a thorough technical investigation into the causes of the collapse, ultimately making recommendations that would make our buildings safer and prevent something like this from happening again. This effort will take time, but we will work on it as long as necessary.

There are millions of high-rise condominium units in Florida alone, many of which are close to the ocean or aging. Although a NIST investigation aims to identify the cause of the Champlain Towers South collapse, it could also uncover potential problems for other similar buildings nearby and across the country, he noted in the communicated.

The US Congress in 2002 authorized NIST to send experts to a construction failure where many lives were lost. On Thursday, authorities reported that 18 lives had been lost and another 145 people remained missing.

NIST is not involved in locating or rescuing people buried in the rubble.

Previously, NIST employees have investigated the 2001 World Trade Center disaster, the 2003 Station nightclub fire, the 2011 Joplin tornado, and Hurricane Maria.

NIST decided that the condominium building collapse met its investigative criteria because it was a major building failure and what its team learns “is likely to result in significant and new knowledge or building code review recommendations necessary to reduce or mitigate public risk and economic loss from future construction failures,” he noted in the press release.

NIST is a federal research laboratory specializing in engineering and other technical fields. It was created in 1901.

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