Clarkson Hospital Garage
Co l l apse Inves t i gat i on
On April 14, 1970, part of the two-story Clarkson Hospital garage in Omaha, Nebraska, collapsed. There were no reported injuries, although forty-nine
cars were damaged. Dick Elstner investigated the collapse for WJE, and his findings led to fundamental changes in the American Concrete Institute code
provisions related to the detailing of reinforced concrete structures.
The Clarkson Hospital project was one of WJE’s first major collapse investigations and one of the first parking structure projects undertaken by
the firm. The work undertaken for this investigation established a methodology for the study of structural failures leading to collapse. Since the
Clarkson Hospital study, WJE has been asked to investigate virtually every major structural collapse in the United States.
Notes of Interest
• The day after the collapse, a local citizen turned himself
in to the Omaha police department, confessing he had
caused the collapse. The man had been running late for
a doctor’s appointment at the hospital, and in his rush to
park his car at the garage, he hit a concrete column at the
end of the stall. When the man returned from his appoint-
ment, the section of garage just beyond his parked car
had collapsed, and he assumed that the impact from his
car had caused it. The police andWJE assured the man
that he was not responsible for the failure.
• Clarkson Hospital was founded in 1869, becoming the
first hospital in the state of Nebraska.
• The Nebraska Medical Center is a leader in bioprepared-
ness—it is home to a ten-bed biocontainment unit,
the largest of its kind in the United States and the only
one open to civilians.
WJE 50 Years