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The Structural Engineer's Standard of Care
Secondary Title Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkways Collapse



Author(s) Joshua B. Kardon
Contributor(s) Joshua B. Kardon
Notes Presented at the OEC International Conference on Ethics in Engineering and Computer Science, March 1999
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Year 1999
Publisher National Academy of Engineering, Online Ethics Center
Language English

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Hyatt Regency Kansas City Walkway Collapse

Author: Joshua B. Kardon, S.E. 
University of California, Berkeley

This case is an excerpt from "The Structural Engineer's Standard of Care."

A minor, "non-structural", feature of a hotel, a walkway suspended from the roof and spanning a central atrium, collapsed suddenly, killing and injuring a great number of people. The detail of the connection of the walkway beam to the suspender was not carried out as drawn, but was changed by the contractor for constructibility reasons.

The structural engineer, who reviewed and approved the change, was found to be negligent. Several important lessons can be learned from this tragedy. Among them are:

  1. Attention to the constructibility of a detail is essential to good design;
  2. Communication of field changes to the designer is essential;
  3. Shop drawing and change order review is important, and shouldn't be performed without the participation of an experienced practitioner;
  4. The smallest detail can cause a major problem, and
  5. In practice, the consequences of an error can have a bearing on the evaluation of negligence.


Cite this page: "Hyatt Regency Kansas City Walkway Collapse" Online Ethics Center for Engineering 11/24/2010 OEC Accessed: Thursday, August 22, 2019 <>