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Collapse - Why Buildings Fall Down

Phillip Wearne

Average Review Rating Average Rating 6/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Channel 4 Books

Published : 1999

Copyright : Phillip Wearne 1999

ISBN-10 : HB 0-7522-1817-4
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-7522-1817-5

Publisher's Write-Up

We take it for granted that buildings will not collapse. Yet even some of the most prestigious building projects have ended in disaster, often causing devastating loss of life. Once a building is erected, faults in design and construction can lie dormant for years, even centuries, until conditions conspire to trigger a collapse. The result is catastrophe. Few professional failures invite such popular contempt as the architects and civil engineers who kill by getting their calculations wrong. Written in the "Black Box" style, "Collapse" investigates structural disasters such as the "Tacoma Narrows" suspension bridge which collapsed whilst under observation for instability and "Roman Point", a 22 floor residential block of flats which crumbled when a gas explosion blew out one wall in a lower flat. "Collapse" tells the story of some of the worst structural failures of the the latter half of the 20th century and using expert testimonies from scientific investigations, pieces together the stories of how indestructable buildings have suddenly become piles of rubble. As well as forensic information, "Collapse" includes the human experiences of people unlucky enough to have been there when some tiny, creeping flaw became a terrifying structural collapse.

Using expert testimonies from scientific investigators, Wearne studies eleven high-profile cases of catastrophic structural collapse. Sometimes these disasters have an unpredictable mechanical cause, such as the minuscule defect in the metal of one eyebar of the Point Pleasant Bridge on the Ohio River that caused the deaths of forty-six people. Usually, though, and more alarmingly, the causes are human.

Mistakes, oversights, misunderstandings, incompetence, greed, and corruption: every facet of human failing is represented in the stories behind these structural collapses.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Paul (010502) Rating (6/10)

Review by Paul
Rating 6/10
The book traces the work of the forensic engineers who investigate the reasons for some of the worlds leading structural collapse's of bridges, buildings, etc. The book has a tie-in to the Channel 4 television series of the same name. This may sound too technical to be of interest to most people but it is explained in fairly plain English (Admittedly I have worked in the technical side of the construction industry for 14 years so it is hard to be objective).

It focuses on the human error side of the problem, i.e. complacency, corruption, etc., as well as comments from survivors and experts involved in the investigations

Not exactly the usual subject matter for a BookLore review but I found it very interesting and thought provoking to consider the affect on human life that minor things going wrong can have.
Paul (1st May 2002)

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