On July 17th, 1981 disaster struck a Hyatt Regency located in Kansas City, Missouri. Members of a tea-dance party were on a suspended walkway located over the lobby to the hotel. This suspended walkway was held from the ceiling by a few steel rods, which were loaded by too much force and unforgettably failed. The fourth floor walkway plummeted on top of the second floor walkway, which then caused both to fall even further to the first floor atrium.
This accident became known as the United States’ most devastating structural failure, causing the death of 114 as well as injuring just over 200 people. This year old hotel was hit hard with an investigation to discover who was to blame for the failure of the steel members. A few disturbing facts were discovered throughout this investigation.
1. In January of 1979, the design of the connectors for the hanger rods was changed by the fabricator from a one rod system to a two rod system. By making this change, the connector now had to handle double the load it would have if it was just a one rod connection. This connector was first to fail in the disaster.
2. The fabricator of the connectors (Havens Steel Company) swore in testimony that they had phoned the engineering firm (G.C.E. International) for change approval. Unsurprisingly G.C.E denied receiving any phone calls.
3. On October 14th 1979, during construction, a large portion of the atrium roof collapsed due to one of the roof connectors failing.
4. Even the original connection design for the walkways was barely capable of sustaining the load of the walkway. It would have failed to meet Kansas City Building Code.
Shown above is the change in design for the hanging rod connectors. The original design shown on the right shows how the rod travels through the connector and continues on to the next walkway. However, the design on the left was the revised design from the fabricator changed in order to make assembly easier for the workers. This change caused the connector to be responsible for twice the design strength.
To no one’s surprise, G.C.E was held responsible for the failure due to them being the structural engineers for the project. The court even stated that even if Havens Steel never reviewed the shop drawings, G.C.E. were still responsible for doing spot checks and assuring that all of the structural members were put together correctly.
The Hyatt Regency Walkway of Kansas City, Missouri is a great example of the Event. The initial conditions set the story for the walkway. G.C.E. was more than capable of discovering the outcome through the knowledge of Natural Law. The mixture of gravity and physics in live loads ultimately overpowered the walkway connectors. Yet, due to negligence and ignorance, it went unnoticed.