Architect Of Collapsed Miami Condo Was Previously Suspended

By Jason Hall

July 26, 2021

Residential Building In Miami Partially Collapsed
Photo: Getty Images

The architect responsible for designing the Miami-Dade County condominium that collapsed last month was previously suspended for designing other structures that toppled.

Documents from the Florida State Board of Architecture obtained by the Real Deal, a South Florida real estate news outlet, said that sign pylons were "an integral part of the structure" of a Miami commercial building that collapsed during a 1965 hurricane built by William Friedman, the same architect who designed the the Champlain Towers South condominium.

The documents stated that pylons were "insufficient and grossly inadequate" in withstanding the high wind pressure brought on by hurricanes -- which are frequent to the region -- and not in accordance with building code for the location or "to accept standards of architectural practice" in the board's decision to suspend Friedman.

The five-member Florida State Board of Architecture found Friedman in violation of Florida law and guilty of "gross incompetency, in that he negligently, improperly, and carelessly" designed the pylons during its ruling in 1966, leading to a suspension that ran from June 1, 1967 through December 1, 1967.

The Real Deal obtained details of Friedman's suspension through a public records request.

The Surfside condo was built in 1982 and going through its 40-year recertification requiring an engineer to ensure the building's structural and electrical safety, often leading to the need for costly repairs, prior to experiencing a partial collapse on June 24.

A structural field survey report conducted by an engineer in October 2018 revealed evidence of "major structural damage" to the concrete slab below the pool deck and "abundant" cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the building, the New York Times reports.

The field survey led to plans for a multimillion-dollar repair project that was scheduled to begin soon -- more than two and a half years after the building managers received a warning -- prior to the collapse.

The complex's management association had disclosed some of the problems following the incident on Thursday, but the full nature of the concrete and rebar damage was not made public until the 2018 report was released by city officials on June 25.

“Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion,” the consultant, Frank Morabito, wrote about damage to the building in the 2018 report.

Morabito didn't give any indication that the structure was at risk of collapse, but did note that it needed repairs in order to maintain "the structural integrity" of the building and its 136 condos.

The death toll from the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse is currently at 96 as of Monday (July 26) morning.

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