This course will examine the ethical issues that arose from the 1981 collapse of atrium lobby walkways at the newly constructed Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri. This tragic incident resulted in the loss of 114 lives and 200 injuries and is the most serious structural engineering failure in United States history. Out of this tragedy a number of serious ethical issues arose for the engineering profession. In this course you will learn about the structural design feature that was the nexus of the failure, and the organizational and procedural deficiencies that allowed the fatal design change to be implemented. You will learn about the ensuing technical investigation, the issues of responsibility and liability, and lessons that were learned that can help us prevent future tragic failures such as this one. This course is intended for engineers, architects and other design and construction professionals wanting to learn how the most tragic structural failure in United States history resulted from organizational and procedural failures in the building design and construction process.
1. History of the project
2. The structural failure
3. The post-mortem
4. Was the disaster preventable?
5. Were the post-mortem conclusions appropriate?
6. Were the actions of the profession appropriate?
7. Would conclusions be different if the failure occurred today?
8. How do we prevent similar events in the future?
• Learn about the history of the project and the members of the design and construction team.
• Learn how economic considerations affect engineering decisions.
• Learn about the ominous earlier structural failure that should have foretold this tragedy.
• Learn how the parties to the design and construction effort held themselves out to the public.
• Learn from file photos what investigators at the scene saw at the time.
• Learn about the technical investigation headed by the National Bureau of Standards.
• Learn about the investigation and conclusions reach by the Missouri engineering registration board.
• Learn how engineering societies reacted to the event.
• Learn how contemporary project delivery methods might lead to different conclusions about responsibility today.
• Learn the three essentials to guard against a recurrence of this type of tragedy in the future.