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Case Study of Hotel New World Tragedy and an Incident in Hyatt Regency at Kansas

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Table of contents

  1. Case I
  2. Case II
  3. Introduction for case study I
  4. Introduction for case study II
  5. Investigation on the failure in case study I
  6. Investigation on the failure in case study II
  7. Duty, right, and virtual ethics
  8. Code of ethics and code of conduct for case I & II
  9. Analysis and recommendation
  10. Conclusion

Case I

This summary reflects the case study on Hotel New World Tragedy. This incident of collapse of the Hotel took place in the mid-month of March i.e. 15th March 1986 resulting in causalities of 33 deaths and 17 rescued during the rescue period. There were several assumptions made on the collapse such as internal blast, non-standard concrete mixtures, and poor site selection along with the weak foundation. After detail study of the collapse and investigation from many different aspects as on several assumptions were made, the guesswork came out to be wrong. But the detailed study of structural analysis gave an appropriate answer to the collapse. The negligence of an Engineer involved in the design missed the dead load consideration while designing Hotel which became the major cause for the failure. It’s very painful when carelessness of an Engineer involved found out to be true. The missing of dead load in the calculation gives the outcome of the small size of columns, beams, slabs and so on. The rescued team was initiated from the country and also the neighboring nation to save the lives of victims as soon as fast. This incident made several remarkable commendations of the Building Control Act 1989 and Building Control Regulations 1989 as a standard set to carry out the job by professional. Several reforms were made to Ethics and Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. After the analysis and evaluation were done, duty and right ethics were significant for the fall of the Hotel NEW WORLD than to other ethical principles. So the remarkable commendation was taken as a mitigation factor on right and duty ethics to avoid future causalities.

Case II

This inscription refers to the incident that took place in Hyatt Regency at Kansas in U.S.A when two walkways collapsed at the hotel lobby. At that moment, the Tea dance party was being held in the lobby in which 100 people were killed along with more than 200 being injured. The hotel was just in its first anniversary when the incident took place. It was one of the most threatening catastrophes in structural construction in the engineering sector. After the incident detailed study was carried out to find the main root cause of the failure. The investigators found that during the construction the roof had fallen but the involved technical person didn’t give much attention and resume the construction. As per the engineer they had requested the client to recheck the design and the investigation on the work are done and remaining work to be done. There has been found fault in the calculation in the design and 60% of the load has only been considered according to Kansas Building Code. They have done so much negligence that they took the preliminary design into account and began the construction of the building and those drawing was forwarded to the manufacturer of steel company which was also one of the main reason for this fatal failure and the engineering firm wouldn’t have done their work as they weren't assured of the work done. To avoid such manmade calamities, the American Society of Civil Engineers set a standard that the work is done building design plan from the initial to final phase should be under the responsibility of Engineer involved. A Municipal Engineer, State Level Engineer, the department responsible for building at their respective boundary should have a recheck on the drawing submitted by the client. As a penalty, the engineering firm lost the license and all the engineers, architects, land surveyors employed by Engineering firms also lost the license. Along with them, the owner of Hyatt Regency Hotel paid more than $140 million for the victims as he was equally responsible for this awful incident.

In this case study, my major concern would be the failure of Reinforced Cement Concrete (R.C.C) structure in two hotels in two different countries. One would be the failure in Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City (U.S.A) and the other one which I am going to compare the failure with the code of ethics and code of conduct is Hotel New World” in Singapore (my city of dreams).

Introduction for case study I

Singapore is one of the fast-growing countries in South East Asia in case of Economy which directly promotes the living standard of the people. Singapore has a population more than 4 million with less area and high rise building known as skyscrapers has made the country renowned in the world. Unfortunately, the incident took place in 'THE HOTEL NEW WORLD' in Little India in Singapore which was built in 1971 which is only 6kms from the downtown of Singapore. The building was six stories and 24 meters high, which is considered as one of the tallest building in Little India, in spite of the fact that there are tall skyscrapers in the city area. The building consists of 36 concrete columns supporting six concrete floors with an average building weight of 6000 tons.

Introduction for case study II

The failure took place in Hyatt Regency at the city of Kansas (U.S.A). The incident took place on the second and fourth-floor walkways which were due to change in the design of the Hyatt Regency which took the life of 114 death-causing 200 injuries. The final design was forwarded by Jack D. Gillum and design his team who designed the building in such a way that pairs of rods should be running throughout starting from the second floor to the ceiling and the preliminary design was approached as [4]. The main attraction was the aesthetic view and design of hotel atrium which was spanned by 3 walkways starting from the second floor and ending on the fourth floor which is suspended by the roof. There was a bridge on the fourth floor which acts as an offset which was around 12 feet long and weighing around 64,000 pounds which were paired by hangars at uniform intervals. [6]

Investigation on the failure in case study I

There are several assumptions and thought made for the collapse of the building and are listed as follows.

  • Internal Blast (Gas Leakage, Electricity shots, etc.) and Terrorist Attack
  • Bad Engineering materials
  • Poor Land Selection

The first assumption for the diminishing of the hotel building was suspected to be by a counterattack. To investigate these several steps were taken to evaluate and in addition, several actions were taken to find out the gas leakage and electricity cause but they were unsuccessful. The damage caused by these factors sets unique characteristics on shattered glass, on the debris of the building and several other leftovers. The next assumption was the poor building materials which made the building fall at once and flatten down vertically. All the technical person hand in hand together worked to find the concern of the vertical failure and made an assumption that should be due to a poor concrete mixture that decreased the strength or due to fracture of fallen which gave an outcome in the softness of concrete. Furthermore, the debris was taken to the laboratory to test and to find the exact reason for the tragedy but it didn't meet the standard. The next theory taken into account was made by the Engineers about the construction of foundation and found out the type of soil where the foundation rested for years as there were no buildings as tall as The Hotel New World. They concluded that there was no failure in the foundation as only minor sway had been observed.[4]

Furthermore, to find out the actual evidence about the failure, Engineers, investigators went through the development plan to study more precisely about the failure. Several witnessed that they saw some sort of cracks in the building and pointed them out too. Studying the drawings, layout of the building they began their the investigation and surprisingly they reported crack and failure corresponded to different columns of the building and made a hypothesis that collapsed of column took place due to maximum limit stress of the building. After going through in depth of building calculation, the mistake was that structural engineer had missed out the dead load calculation which is the major cause of the collapse. Dead load is one of the major load that the buildings hold. On top of that, the heavy equipment was found in debris which wasn't mentioned in the design plan. They even added three cooling towers at the roof of the building, placed a vault with 22 tons at the ground floor and the exterior floor was added with heavy ceramic for the aesthetic view which added about 50 tons in the span of 15 years of the building. Taking into account all the possible causes, the major cause was due to the negligence of a structural engineer who escaped the analysis of dead load to be taken into account. As the dead load was not considered then the design of structure couldn't resist taking the live load. The failure took place is known as Progressive Collapse where failure in the area continued gradually to spread through connective structure causing an enormous loss when a building collapsed subsequently. More precisely we can say that Column number 26 referring to the design, overstressed occurred and then transfer a load of column 26 to column 32 which resulted in the crack in the building in the initial phase. As this process continued then the building couldn’t stand still and collapsed causing casualties. [10]

After the Hotel shattered to the ground level, many rescue team as firefighters, polices were directed to Little India to the place where the hotel is located. But the rescue team was not experienced and they didn’t have the rescue equipment either. Later the rescuers from the neighboring countries began to come with the equipment as life detector, cutting tool, etc.[8] As there were survivals in the debris the rescue team had to work intelligently in order to rescue them safely. It took around five days for a complete rescue operation where the team was successful to save the life of 17 people and 33 were found dead. [8]

After identifying the causes for the Hotel New World collapse tragedy, then some changes were made in the code and ethics in engineering. As we are clear that the Structural Engineer and draftsperson was the real culprit as the dead load was neglected during the design process, one of the reform made in code of ethics was that the document submitted by the professional Engineer needs to be rechecked by the other professional engineer so such mistakes could be avoided before some major/minor destruction would occur. Further, the design should be checked by the independent consultant with 10 years of experience before any design is approved. Next reform made was that the building authority has the rights to refuse any building plans that they felt was not meeting the standard requirement. The responsible person to this task should be registered with the Building Authority.

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Investigation on the failure in case study II

The drawing forwarded by Jack and his team was considered and was used as a Construction drawing for the project. The drawing was just the preliminary drawings. The communication gap between the consultant, client and contractor made this incident happen. The client didn’t discuss the changes in the drawing approached by the contractor with his consultant and in a span of 10 days 42 shops drawings were submitted for approval and was stamped for construction. Before the failure of the atrium roof, more than 2700 square feet atrium roof was found to be collapsed during the construction. The main cause was due to connection failure at the roof. The contractor tried to defend themselves at court that they requested the client to review the drawings and inspection on the materials check but the client refused to take the action forwarded by the contractor which cause the client waste of money and time. The client only performed an inspection for the roof collapse and no inspection was carried for the work executed and the remaining work to be executed. [4]

The next reference to support the case failure is that the design of walkway only supported around 60 percent of the minimum load required as per Kansas City Building Codes. One of the main culprits is the owner who didn’t give much attention to the inspection of the work with the specialists which the engineering firm has proposed. There is no escape to the Engineering firm as well that they shouldn’t do the job as per client because they should also follow the norms of safety and their duty to handover safe project to the client. As 60 % of the minimum load was only considered during the design period, it shows that the engineer at engineering firms is not having adequate knowledge to prepare a report for such public buildings. As the pre-collapse have given the alarm that something was not going good. Then still if the engineering firms do the work in clients favor then the sole responsible is the Engineering firm and the Engineer involved in this project.[7]

As many people were the victim of the incident, the real affected were those who were inside the building and the friends family and relatives were still the victim as they lost their closed one in the incident. Two engineers were found guilty for the uncivilized negligence, misconduct and who showed an unprofessional behavior while performing his duties and responsibilities.

Duty, right, and virtual ethics

According to the Engineering Ethics, duty ethics are the duties that have some limit to perform and not to perform no matter the acts will guide to right or wrong path. Right ethics means that there are some rights it would be either positive or negative. As both of these ethics Duty and Right Ethics are interrelated with each other and works for the right of the individual. A person who does his/her work knowing his duties then he will certainly be performed in his moral action which is acceptable by the ethics.

One of the major steps to ethical action is that the performance of ours shouldn't hamper any individual or society. We have no rights to work under such circumstances. Professionals like Engineers should perform their duty or action to provide the best design to their clients. We should always work in order to provide the best performance in any way we can which is the best way to serve our family, society, country, the world and last but not the least 'Human ' comes to the top of the list. However, in this case, Engineers hasn't worked with their professionalism. They have been so careless regarding the design of the structure and have missed the dead load calculations in the structural analysis report which is a shame to those technical person involved.

Virtual ethics deals with the character of an individual who has been guilty of the incident under the roof of their professional ethics. Relating these ethics to this case study there is no consideration of dead load in the design has been the main reason for the collapse. Now the question has arisen whom to blame. If the incident has taken place unknowingly but still the engineer can't escape because the parameters cannot be neglected as they have knowledge of live load then they should have knowledge of the dead load. This was the commercial building so the design should be rechecked by the concerned authority at the national level of Singapore. For the next case study, according to ASCE that structural engineers are solely responsible for this unethical behavior adopted for the design process. The major ethical issue was that they were unaware of the public safety. If they have only thought of this then this day wouldn’t have come threatening so many people and taking away lives.[10]

Code of ethics and code of conduct for case I & II

Referring to the incident, based on the investigation by the authorized group and comparing the misdeed with the code of ethics from The Institution of Engineers, Singapore Rules for Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics and Board of Engineering code of professionalism and can be used to relate the incident.

  • A Registered Engineer shall conduct himself honorably, responsibly, ethically and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession. [1]
  • A Registered Engineer shall check with due diligence the accuracy of facts and data before he signs any statement. [1]
  • A professional Engineer shall not give professional advice which doesn’t fully reflect his best professional judgment. [9]
  • A professional shall discharge his or her duties to his or her employer or client with complete fidelity. [9]

Referring to the NPSE code of conduct, Engineer in Engineering Firms performed against the “Rules of Practice”.

  • Engineers shall not aid or abet the unlawful practice of engineering by a person or firm. [2]
  • Engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with applicable standards. [2]
  • Engineer shall only perform services in the areas of their competence. [2]
  • Engineer shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misinterpretation of fact or omitting a material fact. [2]

Analysis and recommendation

In a general review of the tragic of the Hotel New World, we should study on several aspects in order to find out the exact reason for the incident and we can know several weakness and strength can be a lesson for the next project and a guideline to the newcomers as well as the professionals. Professionals should never work for their own benefit and always look forward to the willingness to work and consult seniors as per need but never work in an unknown parameter to ensure that the public respect our profession with due respect. In the next case study, Engineer has not performed in service of his/her competence. The engineer should never work under the pressure of anyone unless he feels that his doing is morally right and working under the code of ethics. As a technical person, I highly want to recommend several ideas based on my professional experience.

  • Clients should also have the willingness to work according to the Site Engineer but they rather listen to their contractors and when an incident occurs then all the blame are to the technical person.
  • The nation should make some policy in favor of us as well fairly judging than blaming all the construction issue to the technical personnel.
  • In this study, if the dead load was considered but also if the tragic took place then also they used to blame Engineers involved than finding out the other reasons.
  • The government should also have to take action before the construction and during the construction.
  • The government should involve the technical person in decision making on the annual plan of budget so that the government can deliberate the best development plan to the people of the country and work efficiently on the utilization of budget.

However, it’s the responsibilities of an Engineer to deliberate the best design and propose the design according to the building bylaws of the respective area in order to save future causalities and government is also equally responsible for such type of tragic incident. On top of all, in all these planning and execution we should act as a human as no other can rise above HUMANITY.


This incident is one of the gloomiest catastrophes that took place in Singapore on 15th March 1986, in the HOTEL NEW WORLD “where 33 were killed and 17 of them were rescued. The incident was thrilling to the public and as well as Prime Minister of that period who took a further step to investigate the reason for the collapse. When the actual reason was flashed that it was due to a miscalculation by the technical person involved, then the commendation of the Building Control Act 1989 and Building Control Regulations 1989 with some added rules and changes in ethics wherever needed as a mitigating measure to avoid future tragedy such as the case. In conclusion for the second case study, to avoid such nostalgic failure the American Society of Civil Engineers has recommended that the work submitted by the private and public firm should be rechecked by the experienced professional working at municipal, state, and departments of building to avoid such causalities which took away 114 lives and 200 were injured.[7] A Municipal Engineer, State Level Engineer, the department responsible for building at their respective boundary should have a recheck on the drawing submitted by the client. An Engineer should never go against his morals, ethics, and code of conduct in order to get this profession respected and for the self-respect of the individual.

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Case Study of Hotel New World Tragedy and an Incident in Hyatt Regency at Kansas. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from
“Case Study of Hotel New World Tragedy and an Incident in Hyatt Regency at Kansas.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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