The first major steel building to collapse in the US in recent decades was built in Windsor, Ontario.
The steel structure at Steel City, a 1,400-year-old industrial site in the heart of Windsor, collapsed on May 16, 1980, causing massive fire and explosion.
But the collapse was not due to the weight of the building or any structural defects, according to a new study.
“The steel structure was never designed to withstand such a sudden collapse,” said the study’s lead author, Stephen LeBlanc, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut’s department of structural engineering.
“There is no other steel structure in the world that could have suffered such a catastrophic collapse.”
The study looked at more than 2,500 structures built between 1882 and 1990, and compared them to their structural steel equivalent.
The average structural steel in the United States was around 20% less than the world average.
The study also looked at the steel structures’ operating safety data.
“What we saw is that it’s pretty much impossible to design structures to withstand sudden failures,” LeBlanç said.
“A structural failure will be the most severe event in any steel structure.”
This is an interactive map of the world’s most seismically active cities, with the exception of the Philippines.
Read more The new study looked not only at the structural steel of the Windsor steel structure, but also the structure’s safety record.
The research team used seismic data from the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, to analyze structural steel structures and their operating records.
It found that structural steel could withstand a magnitude 9.5 earthquake and fire, but only if the structure was designed with minimum safety features.
The structures that were designed with those features were also the safest, the team found.
“Structural steel is extremely safe for its size and structure, as well as for the type of earthquake and fires it has been subjected to,” Leblanc said.
The team used the data to predict the severity of a 9.0 or 9.3 magnitude earthquake.
For the Windsor structure, the earthquake would have caused a major, catastrophic collapse.
The Windsor steel building was designed in 1882.
The collapse was expected, but not predicted, by engineers.
The new analysis is the first of its kind to look at the structures operating safety record in a wide range of countries, LeBlans team found, and shows that structures built with minimum design safety features are safe for the people who live in them.
“It’s quite striking that when it comes to design safety, we are really far away from building structures that will fail if we fail to take these precautions,” LeBLanc said in a statement.
“If we look at structures built for the industrial era, it’s clear that a design with minimum structural safety features has been built into the structure.”
In addition to LeBlanche’s study, researchers from the University at Buffalo, the University Of Michigan and the University At Buffalo are working on similar studies.