In just ten seconds the Royal Plaza Hotel designed by Nakhon Ratchasima, collapsed entirely. Many things went wrong with this building, but not until engineers decided to try and make it 'better'. A lot of lessons were learned by the collapse of this hotel but only by the loss of many lives.
Located in Thailand, the royal plaza was apart of a construction boom spurred by economic growth. This construction boom wasn't anticipated and resulted in a severe shortage of qualified architects, engineers, and inspectors. Many corners were being cut and reform wasn't made until this, and many other disasters occurred. Since 1993 the Thai government has put a requirement on 3rd party inspections.
The royal plaza was originally built in a safe a secure way. Loads were evenly distributed on foundational footings in soil with the bearing capacity to hold it. in 1990 the construction boom was in full force and engineers saw an opportunity to expand the royal plaza. This 3-story building more than doubled in size with the addition of 3 floors and water storage on the roof. Inspections of the foundation and soil were tested and looked good to go. The internal support structure of the existing building was not looked at and became the root of all problems.
8 months before the collapse the building started giving hints that something was wrong. there were cracks developing in the lower levels and many of the rooms. 39 or more rooms were frequently being repaired along with water leaks in many of the bathroom and closet ceilings. Weeks before the collapse the water leaks dramatically worsened as the water storage on the roof was finally filling. Nobody saw any of the warning signs, if they did they did not have the authority or professional respect to be heard.
Friday the 13th of August in 1993 the royal plaza gave way, making history as one of the biggest building tragedies Thailand has ever faced. After investigating all of the maintenance reports the problems were clear. the structural columns were carrying a dead load 70-80% more than they should have been. One column crumbled and the rest immediately followed leading to a complete collapse of the entire building. taking 10 whole seconds.
a small elevator shaft in the front of the building was the only thing standing and had been built completely separate from the hotel.
The owner of the hotel along with four of the lead engineers were arrested. The engineers argued in court that the building plans were approved by the government and they had no right to arrest them- they were still arrested, and talk of paying off officials came to light. 137 people died in the collapse and another 227 were injured. First responders search for 20 days after looking for life. The end of the construction boom lead to an abundance of qualified workers, inspectors, and designers along with new and more severe building requirements.