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      Forensic Structural Investigation of Damage Due To Adjacent Construction in New York

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      June 19, 2013

      Wednesday   6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

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      EVENT DETAILS
      Forensic Structural Investigation of Damage Due To Adjacent Construction

       

      Forensic Structural Engineering Investigation of Damage Due To Adjacent Construction   Title: 

      "Forensic Structural Engineering Investigation of Damage Due to Adjacent Construction"

      by: Benjamin Lavon, P.E., President, Feld Kaminetzky & Cohen, New York City (FKC). 

      ABSTRACT:

      A 115 year old residential building in SoHo was a Landmark masonry building that was doomed. After demolition of an adjacent building, and during excavation at the adjacent lot, the building became undermined, tilted substantially, and needed to be evacuated; the building had to be shored and braced in order to prevent a complete structural collapse, until it was subsequently demolished.

      Could this ill fate outcome have been prevented?

      Did the design team fail to fully investigate the existing conditions of the site and footings?

      Several factors lead to the building undermining and failure, including design and construction errors. The design team produced unclear, ambiguous and inaccurate construction drawings. Further, the contractor over-excavated the site and failed to properly protect the adjacent building. Additionally, the vacant, adjacent and excavated site remained open to the elements for a long period of time. This led to further deterioration of the foundation system below the doomed building.

      This presentation will discuss the events that caused the structural distress, damage and ultimate failure of the structure, with emphasis on lessons learned from this unfortunate failure.

      The existing mixed-use, Landmarked building was a 5-story brick masonry bearing wall structure with a basement located in the SoHo district of New York City. It was constructed in approximately 1885. The building footprint was approximately 25’ x 95’ on the first floor and was approximately 25’ x 85’ at the upper four floors; it occupied most of the lot area. The front façade was comprised of an ornate cast iron façade, typical to the era of construction in SoHo (see Figure 1).

      The original adjacent building was a 5-story brick masonry structure with a basement. It was constructed similarly to the subject building. The upper four floors had been demolished after a fire back in 1938; a 1-story structure remained on the site until 2001. The new construction at the adjacent lot included the demolition of the existing 1-story building to construct a new structure with foundation in its place for a new residential building.

      The excavation and related construction activities at the adjacent lot caused the subject building to become undermined, settled, tilted and substantially structurally damaged; as a result, it was declared unsafe by the Authorities and had to be evacuated.From the time the existing adjacent building was demolished in 2001 until construction resumed in 2004, the adjacent site excavation was left open to the elements; no drainage or protection measures for the subject building were provided and the sub-grade conditions continued to deteriorate. Thus, the poor soil below the pile caps remained vulnerable and was caused to further deteriorate. During the same time period, the foundation design for the new building was changed from spread footings to a pile-supported foundation, due to poor soil conditions, typical to the site.

      When the construction of the adjacent building resumed in June 2004, the excavation was deepened and the existing adjacent foundation wall (abatting the subject building) that remained after the demolition in 2001 was also demolished. Yet, no protection measures had been introduced, contrary to the NYC building code, rules and regulations. Additionally, test pits were then dug by the design and construction team, which caused additional undermining. See Figure 2. Finally, in September 2004 a rain storm event created additional undermining and large building movement occurred that caused up to 2’ of tilting, which ultimately caused the Authorities to become involved; the building became unstable, deemed unsafe and immediately vacated. Refer to Figure 3 for general view of the braced and vacant building.

      Continuing Education Credits:

      1.5 PDH's 

      Speaker:

      Benjamin Lavon, PE, President, Feld Kaminetzky & Cohen, New York City (FKC).Mr. Lavon has 33 years of diversified engineering experience which includes structural design of commercial, institutional, residential and industrial projects, high-rise apartment and office buildings, nursing homes, US postal facilities, movie theaters, department stores, shopping centers, parking garages, manufacturing plants, warehouses, and special structures; failure investigation and reports; seismic evaluations of various structures, Infra-structure evaluation expertise. He obtained his B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Technion, Israel and his M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from NYU/ Polytechnic.

      to Register via Eventbrite, please click on link below.   (Approved for 1.5 PDH's).

      http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7061451993

      Categories: Conferences & Tradeshows

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