Harbor Cay Condominium collapse

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The Harbor Cay Condominium was a five-story flat plate residential development project in Cocoa Beach (Brevard County, Florida, United States) that collapsed during construction on March 27, 1981. Eleven workers were killed and 27 injured.[1]

The building, being constructed by the Univel Corporation of Cocoa Beach, collapsed as workers were completing its framework by pouring concrete for the roof.[2] The accident led to more rigorous enforcement of engineering and construction codes in Florida and elsewhere.


The collapse was due to numerous errors in design and construction. The concrete slabs were only 200 mm (eight inches) thick and should have been 280 mm (eleven inches) thick to satisfy the American Concrete Institute's Building Code minimum. The plastic chair spacers used to support the slab steel were 108 mm (4 ¼ inches) high, which coupled with the thin slabs led to a very small effective depth.[1]


Two engineers, an architect and two contractors were charged with negligence, misconduct and failing to conform to state and local building laws. At least one of the engineers surrendered his license, paid a fine, and said he would never practice again.[3]


  1. ^ a b Delatte, Norbert, P.E., Ph.D., Assistant Professor (July 2003). "Harbor Cay Condominium, Florida" (html). Case Studies in Failures and Ethics for Engineering Educators. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Retrieved March 2008.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ Montgomery, Paul (March 29, 1981). "Two still missing in condominium collapse". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Engineer in Building Collapse Gives Up His Florida License". New York Times. September 18, 1981.