Computer simulation of Surfside tower collapse

“not least because of how dehumanizing the means are “

Right because what the video needed was more personal backstory and graphic detail of people getting squished.

Should we really be going around judging engineering failures on the basis of animations? What are the assumptions that drive this simulation, and how well founded are these assumptions?

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Wow – it’s all academic and dry until at around 4:08 when it shows how the bodies likely distributed. That’s when shit turns really dark.


Completely extremely off topic but…

Thank you for these sentences, since it has cleared a linguistic itch I didn’t know I had. I never knew the difference between an apartment and a ‘condo’. I never understood the word ‘condo’.
But now I get it: ‘con’ ‘dominium’ . Together house.

For my work I read and write so much english that I sometimes forget it’s not my first language. But these small nuggets of enlightenment are always nice. :smiley:


Really? Damn i didn’t make it that far, i just made it as far as the first few seconds showing the collapse and i figured it was more of the same.

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There are legal boundaries in terms of what a condo association can or cannot do. Usually the HOA is a separate legal entity bound by a charter with all decisions made by a majority vote of homeowners. There may be ways to do capital borrowing for large scale improvements but that usually requires homeowner approval and special assessments being levied. It can be very complex and messy.

My HOA fees contribute not only to ongoing maintenance and upkeep but also to a long term improvement fund. Our current fund has a reserve of around $350K - no where near the multi-millions needed for the major repairs. So we’re forced to looking at band-aid solutions in the interim as a major capital improvement loan would require 100% of homeowner approval. Getting 50 people to agree on anything is not easy. Some of our owners are absentee as well so even getting response to correspondence is challenging.

Condo owners also share responsibility for common areas via their monthly HOA fees. Mine runs about $1000/month just for groundskeeping, janitorial, water/sewage, taxes, etc. Our fees are also apportioned based on the square footage of the unit so larger units have higher fees than smaller ones.


Ha. Glad I can help. My Filipino friend will occasionally come to me and ask, “What is the deal with this word or phrase?”

And don’t feel bad, I got “condom” and “condominium” mixed up once at the dinner table as a kid. :confused:

I mean, I have lived in an HOA run sub division before. It was both nice and bullshit. They kept raising dues for build projects. They had to tear down a clubhouse that I guess was showing its age? Though they have a lot more people to “tax” for that sort of thing, as well as I think income from a golf course.

It seems to me the long term viability of a lot of condos are nil. Eventually everything will need maintenance that people living there are unwilling/unable to fix. Then what? Half of the people could sell, but who wants to buy into a crumbling building?

We’re all talking about definition two here, “an apartment house in which the units are owned individually”. I was just mentioning in passing that the word is also commonly used for the individually-owned units themselves, in addition to the entirety.

Don’t you have it backwards? The animation is the result, not the source, of a judgement of the engineering failure.

That’s what I was thinking. Who would want to buy something that will be torn down and have zero residual value?

My new idea wouldn’t work for obvious reasons, but one way to set up condos and their HOAs is as a consumable product: This building will only last 40 years. Forty years from now, it must and will be town down. That way, everyone knows the plan going in. After 20 years, you can sell, but the buyer will know they only have 20 years left.

The obvious part I mentioned is that in the last few years, they place will do downhill fast. Why put money into, say, new paint, or light bulbs, if we know it will be torn down in 18 or 24 months?

Condo owners are collectively responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the entire building. Legally, every owner is a member of the condo association for their building. All condo owners have a vote, and elect an association board to handle management of the building. Association fees paid by each owner should be going to regular maintenance and managment, building staff costs, and to maintain a reserve fund which is then used for large scale maintenance or improvements.

If the reserve fund is not sufficient to cover a needed repair, the association has two options - take out a loan and increase association fees to pay it off over time, or use a “special assessment” to raise money for the repairs. A special assessment is a fee paid by the condo owners to cover a specific project and can be a one time fee or broken down into multiple payments over a set schedule.

When purchasing a condo, its the obligation of the buyer to review the building’s history of major repairs, scheduled upcoming repairs and the current balance of their reserve fund. The buyer then needs to make their own judgment on whether the building is properly maintained and how much ownership is likely to cost - including association fees and special assessments. For instance, if a highrise is overdue for common repairs (elevator maintenance, roof replacements, pool maintenance, balcony and balcony railing maintenance), a buyer needs to assume those repairs will be required soon and should evaluate whether the reserve fund is sufficient to cover repairs or otherwise should plan for a special assessment and make sure their finances can cover such a cost. A high reserve fund is in the buyer’s best interest since that means repair costs are being spread out over time as owners buy and sell, instead of the entirety of an anticipated repair falling on the ownership at the time the repair is needed. Too high a reserve fund may be wasteful - a buyer does not get that money back when they sell, and is not available for personal investing. Once purchased, each owner is responsible for participating in the proper management of the building, including planning ahead and raising association fees when necessary to cover ongoing costs and to build up a sufficient reserve fund.

It is every condo owner’s financial responsibility to cover ongoing maintenance, just like owning a single family residence - its just more complicated because of the number of people involved. They must plan their finances accordingly. Condos do represent equity (depending on the mortgage balance owed) and so it may be possible to borrow against a condo unit to pay one’s portion of the cost.


Isn’t that true of any building or house - eventually? The key is staying ahead of the major repairs with regular maintenance.

Sounds like the Surfside Towers were a special case though that may stem all the way back to the original construction. If some of the early reports are accurate about the amount of rebar in the concrete for example.


The Inachus project was designed to predict where victims would fall, to aid in search in rescue,

For a bloodless demonstration of Inachus, check out

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I’m fascinated by these (as with similar recreations and simulations of the 9/11 attacks), not least because of how dehumanizing the means are to the very human end of understanding.

Dehumanizing? The simulation showed dozens of human bodies getting mangled. How much more humanizing can you get?

Also by this artist:

A protest against a certain president’s mismanagement of Covid and a call to action.


That’s the impression I get from the reports so far. The flat concrete pool deck with no proper drainage channels, feeding water that eroded parking structure constructed with possibly insufficient rebar, on which rested part of the concrete slab base under the tower itself (instead of a base that’s re-inforced by structural steel beams at all points). One design failure leading to another, all exacerbated by the salt in the sea air.

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That’s not too dissimilar to Tokyo, apartment (“mansion”) buildings are not expected to last a long time and are pulled down and rebuilt after 50 years or so. There is a maintenance fund for regular work and is kept in a livable state until the end, at least going on the experience of my in-law’s building.

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Good grief; that is hideous.

You say that, but if it was discovered that your house needed that much repair work, your equity would immediately be worth a lot less. If the repair bill is a significant fraction of the property’s value, you can get to a point where the best financial option is to walk away and leave the keys under the door mat.

Even if you are in a position to borrow $100k, it’s not an investment – it’s just subtracting $100,000 (+interest) from your lifetime earnings, the same as if you paid cash. I’m not sure banks would lend that much to a retiree even if they owned their property outright.

I think the problem with (high-rise) condos is just that you’re more likely to end up in that situation in the first place.

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Good assessment of the situation. I’ll add to that by noting that I have encountered (in my professional engineering practice with numerous condo clients) multiple occasions where…

your equity would immediately be worth a lot less

…suddenly becomes an unsaleable unit. It’s a trap and the laity owners don’t know they’re in it until they get qualified people on board (often a problem - lots of “my uncle knows something about roofing” in these situations) who give them the bad news. Who, after all, wants to buy into a collective with uncertain liabilities and an unclear ability to take the necessary action.