“I’ve never thought twice about the safety”

convention_center_collapse.jpgI’ve been on a video shoot this morning, so I haven’t read much of anything about the convention center collapse in Pittsburgh. But from what I’ve read so far here here and here, the David L. Lawrence Convention Center seems to be turning into Pittsburgh’s version of Boston’s John Hancock Tower.

The building’s most dangerous and conspicuous flaw was its faulty glass windows. Entire 4′ x 11′, 500 lb (1.2×3.4 m, 227 kg) windowpanes detached from the building and crashed to the sidewalk hundreds of feet below. Police closed off surrounding streets whenever winds reached 45 mph (72 km/h). According to the Boston Globe, MIT built a scale model of the entire Back Bay in its Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel to identify the problem. The exact cause of the malfunction was never revealed due to a legal settlement and gag order. Most now diagnose the problem as a combination of the double-paned glass construction method, and the pressure differentials between the inside and outside air. [citation]

At least it was cheaper and didn’t take as long as the John Hancock. And our deathtrap is much prettier. Pretty/dangerous

3 replies on ““I’ve never thought twice about the safety””

  1. “Deathtrap”? Tsk tsk, Cindy. I think the Convention Center has been doing a heck of a job.

    The history is ominous… http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07037/759777-85.stm

    Start with several ounces of a unique, cantilevered, eco-friendly design with which all the contractors are unfamiliar.

    Add in mistakes, as well as bedrock shifts, which change the stability characteristics of the very foundation.

    Sprinkle in a horrendous accident, a dead worker, an investigation by OSHA, and possibly getrunken employees.

    Add a splash of legal action: the steel contractor has sued the SEA for change orders — which suggests that as the unique, innovative, award-winning project unfolded, new difficulties and stresses were discovered in various parts of the structure.

    What do you get? A pretty darn good drink.

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why Onorato might be angry. A truck doing the splits sounds like a natural outcome of this one. (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07037/759819-100.stm)

  2. I work in the building next to the Convention Center and have a window by my otherwise drab, gray cubicle. Lo and behold, I was working on some project that will undoubtedly join a land fill somewhere when I heard the noise. I looked out and saw a big dust cloud. But strangely none of the pedestrians nearby looked concerned or stopped walking until the fire and police came by. (Very good response time, BTW, which is comforting.) Floor collapses, not so comforting.

    BTW, I was a little disappointed in the local reporters. It seemed to take them much longer to get over to cover the action. Could they all have been covering the weather for a news story titled something like “PREPARE FOR THE BIG STORM!!!!!”?

  3. Jeff: Excellent points. I feel like there’s a potential drinking game somewhere in this. Not sure how to structure it, but maybe it would involve taking a sip every time someone is quoted saying either “safe” or “defect”?

    Susan: You were there! And the reporters weren’t. This is exactly where citizen journalism can fill the gap. The next time there’s a big dust cloud at the convention center, I hope you have a digital camera or cameraphone on hand — I smell Pulitzer!

Comments are closed.