Centergy parking deck collapses; no injuries

On June 29, a Midtown Atlanta parking deck at the corner of Spring Street and Fifth Street collapsed around 12:30 pm. The 1,415-space garage mainly served employees of the Centergy building, RBC Bank, Georgia Tech and patrons of the nearby L.A Fitness Center.

Officials estimate that around 1400 vehicles had been damaged by the accident and 45 had been rendered unusable. No injuries were reported as a result of the collapse.

Hardin Construction was the general contractor for the Centergy parking deck, which was completed in 2004. However, Metromont Corporation was the subcontractor which did the actual construction work.

The building was fabricated from precast concrete pieces manufactured at Metromont’s facilities in Greenville, SC and Hiram, Ga.

The parking deck has not been inspected since receiving its certificate of occupancy upon completion, and there had been no complaints since. Consequently, city officials did not feel the need to conduct what would have been a costly inspection.

“Obviously, we’re…very concerned about what took placed new Fersand we’re trying to figure out what could’ve happened,” said Bill Pinto, president of Hardin Construction. “Nobody should be concerned about a parking deck anymore than – some plane crashes and all of a sudden you say, well, I can’t go on that plane anymore – that’s not the case.”

However, Hardin Construction was recently fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the Atlanta Botanical Garden bridge collapse. The pedestrian bridge collapsed last December, killing one construction worker and injuring 18 others. According to OSHA’s report on this accident, Hardin Construction and two other companies had placed support towers too far apart and had not properly inspected the structure.

“It’s unfortunate that a connection [between the two incidents] continues to get made. They’re absolutely and totally different situations,” Pinto said.

Typically, structures such as bridges and parking garages are “over-designed” to handle any excess stress.

“In the design phase, we try to allow for some tolerances. We design for a stronger structure than it ought to be,” said Robert Leon, a professor of civil engineering at Tech.

One striking aspect of the Centergy parking deck collapse is that such collapses normally occur during two phases: during or soon after construction, or when the structure has aged so much that it is falling part. The Centergy deck, however, has been in operation for only five years.

According to Harry Gleich, Vice President of Engineering for Metromont Corporation, the company has a clean slate and has done construction work on other concrete garages in Atlantic Station, Emory and the World of Coke. While he did not offer any speculative explanations for the collapse, he did rule out the possibility that the structure had been overloaded.

“Weight should not be an issue,” Gleich said.

David Tyndall, head of Gateway Development, the company that owns the parking deck, reported that an exterior beam extending from one column to another, called the spandrel beam, had popped out. What forced the beam out is under investigation.

“With regard to those who had been affected and lost cars, we have been in contact with them and the property insurance companies,” said Harry Conley, president and CEO of Fifth Street Management Company. “All of those issues have to be worked out. In the meantime they have been instructed to contact their insurance companies to make arrangements for other modes of transportation and then come back and talk to us.”

Current rebuilding estimates project that repairs will take between three to six months. However, work won’t begin until the investigation into the cause of the collapse has been finished.

“No repairs will begin until the cause of the collapse is determined,” Conley said. “There will be some preliminary meetings in the next few weeks and a new design plan put into place.”