6 Hours from Catastrophe – The Hartford Civic Center Collapse

Course Number: ED-2002
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: James S. Bluma, P.E.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In 6 Hours from Catastrophe – The Hartford Civic Center Collapse, you'll learn ...

  • The design errors that doomed the Civic Center Arena roof from its beginning
  • Procedural loopholes which allowed flaws in the complex arena roof truss design to go undetected
  • How over confidence in the results from an improperly applied computer program caused the Structural Engineer to accept roof deflections that greatly conflicted with his own predicted values

Overview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 23 pages

Just after 4 AM on January 18, 1978, the entire roof of the 3-year old Hartford, CT Civic Center Arena suddenly collapsed and fell onto the seating areas and floor over 80 feet below. 6 hours earlier, the arena had been filled with nearly 5,000 persons for a college basketball game between local rivals, another sports event was scheduled 15 hours after the collapse. Had the failure occurred a few hours earlier, the number killed when the 2,900 ton roof fell could have exceeded the toll from the nine-eleven terrorist attacks.

The 2½ acre roof was designed as an octahedron, 2 layer open span space truss system supported by one column in each of the four corners. Although the structure was designed and computer modeled in 1971 to have an ultimate strength of 140 pounds per square foot total combined load, the roof collapsed after an 8.8 inch snowfall under a total combined load of only 67-73 lbs. per square foot.

Included among the many causes of the collapse that will be covered is the inadequacy of the computing and software technology of the time to properly model the stress in such a complex, statically indeterminate system and the un-warranted confidence the Engineer placed in its results. The study of this case history spotlights the potential great harm that could have resulted from the technical and procedural failures as well as the ethical and communication breakdowns which all contributed to the roof’s progressive and ultimate total collapse.

 

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Warning signs of the roof’s over stressed condition, beginning during construction that were ignored
  • Space frame stress behavior and design criteria that was available to the designer but not applied in the project
  • Modern space truss construction techniques that provide lighter, stronger and much larger structure
  • The history, development and widespread contemporary application of the space frame truss system

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 15 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
This course is applicable to professional engineers in:
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PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 23 pages

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