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ENC 3246: Professional Communication for Engineers

This guide provides you with information sources for the various assignments in Professional Communication for Engineers course.

Hyatt Regency Hotel Walkway Collapse, Kansas City, Missouri

Failures are often associated with structural problems, either in the design or the construction materials used.

The newly constructed Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, featured several suspended walkways crossing its multistory atrium. Preliminary plans called for the fourth-floor walkway to hang from the ceiling, connected by steel rods. On July 17, 1981, the hotel was crowded for an event. The linked walkways crashed to the dancefloor, killing 114 people and injuring another 200. The structural engineer in charge of the walkways blamed the design flaw on a breakdown in communication. The Hyatt Regency walkway collapse has become a popular case study in the ethics of engineering.

Why did it fail?

In that design, the rods would barely hold the weight of the walkway itself and would not have passed local building codes. Those supports were included in the final construction, and to make matters worse, the second-floor walkway was suspended from the fourth-floor walkway directly above it, doubling the load on those parts.

Example Sources

[1]  E.O. Pfrang and R. Marshall, R, "Collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkways", Civil Engineering—ASCE, vol. 52, no. 7, pp. 65-69, 1982.
[2] J.W. Lawson and P.A. Brady, "Using the Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse Case Study in Engineering Education," 42nd Structures Congress Conference Proceedings: Las Vegas, Nevada. 2011.
[3]  W.R. Marshall, E.O. Pfrang, E.V. Leyendecker, K.A. Woodward, R.P. Reed, M.B. Kasen, and T.R. Shives, "Investigation of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency walkways collapse", No. NBSIR 82-2465, Feb. 1982.
[4]  P. Wearne, Phillip, "Collapse : When Buildings Fall Down", TV Books, New York, 2000.
[5]  Standard practice for safe walking surfaces, ASTM International Standard F1637-19, Mar. 2021.
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