Construction collapse threatens Saenger in NOLA

Jay Ashworth

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A building collapse during construction of a new Hard Rock Hotel in downtown New Orleans has left a construction crane unmoored, inside of the fall radius of which, this reporter notes, is the Saenger theater. Hopefully nobody here works at the Saenger. If you do, I would not be reporting for work until they get that crane torn down.

 

JohnD

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Here is some drone footage:
 
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What Rigger?

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1 dead, 2 missing or trapped in wreckage/rubble. This is a $#!tstorm.
 
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JohnD

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Here is an update from:
ABCNews
In the article the mayor said that there was damage to the roof of the Saenger Theater from falling debris and that the rest of the performances of "Wicked" have been canceled.
 
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Van

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Just saw a new story that they looking into the fact that the pool was lifted a couple hours before the collapse. I looked at the original, cell phone, footage and did not see anything resembling a pool falling with the other ruble but it could have been buried already. It also could have been placed on that 3rd floor deck. I read in one of the earliest reports that wind had been a factor that day and that something had blown into the building when it was being lofted by the crane. Al that being said perhaps the pool was on that lower deck. the wind grabbed it and it bounced off a support. that could certainly start a cascade if the structure were significantly compromised by the impact.... speculation, speculation...
 
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MNicolai

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The very unverified rumor I heard was similar to yours @Van. Supposedly they were lifting something and it swung into the structure and knocked into one of the columns -- or something like that. Another also unverified rumor is that they were originally designed to have more structure be supported by concrete but at some point VE'd to provide most of the vertical support strictly by structural steel columns.

Whatever the case, the building is probably a total loss and will need to be demo'd in its entirety. I wouldn't be surprised to see the project get scrapped along the way and see the developer fold and close up shop. The litigation on this will be ugly, and is likely to include exhibiting a video to a jury which has been floating around Facebook of a victim trapped under rubble. What appears to be metal framing wrapped itself across the waist and neck of the victim who at the time of filming was still alive under the rubble. Unclear if this is one of the survivors or the fatalities. This tragedy will haunt any further development of that hotel.
 
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RonHebbard

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The very unverified rumor I heard was similar to yours @Van. Supposedly they were lifting something and it swung into the structure and knocked into one of the columns -- or something like that. Another also unverified rumor is that they were originally designed to have more structure be supported by concrete but at some point VE'd to provide most of the vertical support strictly by structural steel columns.

Whatever the case, the building is probably a total loss and will need to be demo'd in its entirety. I wouldn't be surprised to see the project get scrapped along the way and see the developer fold and close up shop. The litigation on this will be ugly, and is likely to include exhibiting a video to a jury which has been floating around Facebook of a victim trapped under rubble. What appears to be metal framing wrapped itself across the waist and neck of the victim who at the time of filming was still alive under the rubble. Unclear if this is one of the survivors or the fatalities. This tragedy will haunt any further development of that hotel.
@Van and @MNicolai BAD PUN ALERT! Or we could have a POOL speculating upon which rumor is closer to the Value Engineered TRUTH. I can't wait for @TimMc 's post. . .
Toodleoo!
Ron Hebbard
 

gafftaper

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My hardcore union buddy on Facebook is posting stuff about how this is because they were using non licensed non-union labor, but from what I can tell that was only an electrical subcontractor. The post also included the face of someone who looked severely injured which really bothered me... is that alive? I couldn't tell from the picture.

I hate this kind of stuff. Not only is it a tragedy, but everyone points fingers and demands an answer right now. Truth takes time. OSHA will take months, maybe up a year, before they complete their investigation.
 
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TimMc

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The one thing you can bet on: any local or state investigation will be a white-wash. I lived and worked in NOLA for about 6 months and felt like it took years off my life span. It's a wonderful city with many kind and lovely people, and then there is the rest of it...

If initial reports of high winds and unsecured/insufficiently secured lifting are correct this is another case where 'making the schedule' killed and injured people who had no control over their work, other than to quit.
 
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I'm working down in nola now. The rest of the Wicked tour at the Sanger has been cancelled. Not sure if the crew can get in to strike the set or not, don't believe they can. Hopefully the Mahalia Jackson can take some of the upcoming tours. There's about a two block radius of a mandatory evacuation from the Hard Rock.
 

Van

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RonHebbard

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Interesting looking at web sites of design firms. The structural engineer prominently lists "expert witness" services. I suspect they'll have the chance to pick up some pointers in those regards over the years ahead.
The years they'll be spending in jail, possibly??
Toodleoo!
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JohnD

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Among the outside experts called in to help in the creation of a safe resolution is Thornton Tomasetti who were involved in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse investigation and also at the 9/11 aftermath at the World Trade Center.
 

MNicolai

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Thought the structural engineer in that article was speaking very candidly given the circumstances. Did a little digging. Walter Zehner did an original design for an earlier version of the project but it sounds like he has no ownership of the current design whatsoever. Engineer of Record is presently Heaslip Engineering. Commentary from the structural peanut gallery over here if anyone is interested. Other engineers have been going through videos and the publicly available S&S plans to analyze what may have happened and a fair deal of scrutiny is being applied to the condition of the S&S drawings. Those drawings indeed do not tell the entire story nor would errors there necessarily mean that a contractor error didn't precipitate the collapse but the drawings and drone footage do raise many questions about the integrity of the design.

The property is owned by "1031 Canal Development LLC", which is a tactic developers use to limit their liability. This project is deliberately silo'd off from the rest of their portfolio.

I would add that I've done a few projects in NOLA, and it's definitely a good ol' boys club. It is a very lax environment in terms of professionalism from contractors. Lot of shady business practices and unqualified labor.
 
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TimMc

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Among the outside experts called in to help in the creation of a safe resolution is Thornton Tomasetti who were involved in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse investigation and also at the 9/11 aftermath at the World Trade Center.
They hired the right firm, now the question is if whoever hired them will publicly release T-T's full report as the State of Indiana did for the State Fair blow-down.