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RE: EOR(Kansas City Hyatt Walkway Failure)

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Title: RE: EOR(Kansas City Hyatt Walkway Failure)

Jack Gillum made a presentation on the Hyatt Failure at a SEAoT meeting in Dallas last Tuesday.  Since this tragedy has generated considerable discussion, I thought that it might be appropriate to briefly summarize some of the key points (that I remember) from his presentation:

[1]     At the time of the collapse, Mr. Gillum was 53 years old.  He was a licensed professional engineer in many states, and owned a very large and successful structural engineering firm, Jack Gillum & Associates.  JGA had about 175 employees and was headquartered in St. Louis, with branch offices in a number of major American cities.  Mr. Gillum sealed 100% of all construction documents produced in the St. Louis office, and perhaps in all or some of the branch offices as well.

[2]     The collapse was fundamentally caused by a mammoth failure of communication, with the result that the rod hangar connections were never designed by anyone.  Blame could be spread with a wide brush, including (at least) the owner, the architect, the structural engineer, the project manager, the general contractor, and the fabricator.  All of this is well-documented in numerous publications.  Virtually all of these parties eventually forfeited the limits of their insurance policies.

[3]     Mr. Gillum and his firm were subsequently investigated for (criminal) fraud and no-billed.  Following that, the Missouri PE Board initiated an administrative action to revoke the PE licenses of Mr. Gillum and his project engineer.  At trial, the administrative judge found in favor of the PE Board, ruling that the structural EOR is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the structural design and construction.  Consequently, Mr. Gillum lost his Missouri PE license, and his firm lost its Missouri business license.  Today, Mr. Gillum believes that the JUDGE WAS RIGHT, even though he remains quite bitter concerning the "factual" testimony offered by some of the other parties.

[4]     Through the mechanism of reciprocity, Mr. Gillum promptly lost his PE licenses in all other states except one, CALIFORNIA.  Logically, he then moved to northern California and began a new structural engineering practice.  Although he is now more-or-less retired and living back in St. Louis, he remains a licensed PE in California.  None of his other PE licenses have ever been restored (apparently, unlike felons, engineers cannot expect parole or pardons).

[5]     Mr. Gillum concluded his presentation by explaining that he has thought about the Hyatt every day for the past 20 years, and will never be able to put the tragedy behind him.  In an effort to help others understand the full responsibility that goes with the EOR designation, he regularly makes presentations to student and professional engineering groups.

If you ever have the chance to hear him, do so.  It is truly a sobering experience!


Stan R. Caldwell, P.E., F.ASCE
Vice President
Halff Associates, Inc.
8616 Northwest Plaza Drive
Dallas, Texas  75225
Phone:  (214) 346-6280
Fax:  (214) 739-0095
Email:  scaldwell(--nospam--at)