FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. - It’s still unclear what caused the building collapse near Miami but some experts suspect corrosion. Now many people are wondering if this can happen where they live.
In 1973 there a massive building collapsed in Northern Virginia near Falls Church.
The Skyline Plaza Condominium complex was being built in Bailey’s Crossroad when the building collapsed. According to the National Institute of Standard and technology, formwork was removed too quickly and the foundation was not yet secure which caused the building to come crumbling down.
Fourteen construction workers were killed and thirty five others injured. Roberto Leon is a structural engineer professor at Virginia Tech. He studies the Skyline Plaza case every year with his students and said it lead to significant changes in the construction industry.
"There was a construction issue. They were finishing the building and they were obviously casting the concrete too quickly…Ever since then we have had all of these failures investigated in quite some detail and very good technical reports written and as a result of that it’s where we changed our construction processes. We learned from our mistakes," Leon said.
Leon is hoping the collapse near Miami will also lead to changes. Some experts suspect corrosion from the saltwater. While the DMV has several waterfront neighborhoods, Leon says his biggest concern with them is not erosion but the rising sea level.
Inspections are supposed to make sure buildings are up to code and don’t collapse but Leon says the problem is there is no national standard for building codes which leads to inconsistency.
"There is not a national standard for any of this. This is all a patchwork of local organisms. So one of the things that will hopefully come out of this disaster out in Florida is that we will have a more uniform set of guidelines for local jurisdictions to use," he said.
Fox 5 reached out to local jurisdictions about what they look for in building inspections, some declined to comment, others were not available.