Thirty-one years ago today occurred what is usually considered to be the greatest architectural-deficiency disaster in modern times, the Hyatt Skywalk Disaster. On July 17, 1981, 111 people lost their lives when a glass “skywalk” inside the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, Missouri, collapsed on top of a dance being held in the hotel lobby. Post-disaster assessments suggested that the glass walkway was not sturdy enough to withstand the large dance crowd, which put far greater numbers of persons on the structure than ordinary. In 1995, the University of Colorado’s Natural Hazards Research Center published a study on the Hyatt disaster, which ultimately had led to changes in design and structure codes (as disasters so often do). The Hyatt Skywalk Disaster and Other Lessons in the Regulation of Building, available from our library, explores the disaster and the lessons learned from it, in the hopes of preventing more such tragedies. For a collection of newspaper articles and photographs from the disaster, click here.
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