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Kansas City Hyatt Regency
Wa l kway Co l l apse Inves t i gat i on
On July 17, 1981, during a weekly dance held in the atrium lobby of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency, the connection of the steel rods suspending the
fourth-floor walkway failed, causing the fourth- and second-floor walkways to collapse onto the crowded atrium floor. WJE led the primary investigation
of the collapse, which included vibration testing of the remaining third-floor skywalk to assess possible effects of dynamic excitation, as well as
laboratory testing of replicas of the failed connection.
The walkway collapse at the Kansas City Hyatt was one of the worst structural collapses in U.S. history, and led to significant improvements in
steel design and construction. The collapse has had a profound impact on construction practices in the United States, especially on the respective
responsibilities of structural engineers and steel fabricators.
Notes of Interest
• The design change that resulted in the failure was
approved over the phone but never analyzed or tested.
• Even as originally designed, the walkways were barely
capable of holding up the expected load and would have
failed to meet the requirements of the Kansas City
Building Code.
• It was reported that a worker who covered the walkways
with drywall during construction noticed a box beam
bending. Thinking nothing of it, he finished the job.
WJE 50 Years