Berkeley Balcony Collapse

Berkeley Balcony Collapse

Berkeley Balcony Collapse

My deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the family of those young students who lost their precious lives in the tragic collapse of a four-story balcony in an apartment building in Berkeley, CA. As a Structural Engineer and father of a young college students I can feel the pain this unfortunate event have brought upon the families and the community. My older son graduated from the University of California at Berkeley just two years. So, I have developed a special bond to UC Berkeley and I still consider myself a Cal Dad. It’s ironic that this tragedy would happen only a couple of blocks away from the university campus where it houses one of the finest schools for civil engineering. I don’t know the cause of the failure first hand, I have not investigated it personally. Typically residential balconies of these types are designed for a live load of 60 pound per square foot (psf) in accordance with the building codes. My recommendation is to increase the design live load to 100 psf and make an amendment to the existing building codes expeditiously. Additionally I recommend establishing a special design criteria for overhang balconies with regards to floor joists sizes, back span length and proper sealing to prevent moisture or water penetration. Please feel free to email us with all your comments.

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