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On July 17, 1981, two suspended walkways within the atrium area of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City collapsed leaving 113 people dead and 186 injured. In terms of loss of life and injuries, this was the most devastating structural collapse ever to take place in the United States.

The Hyatt Regency consists of three main sections: a high-rise section, a "function block," and a connecting atrium area. As built, three suspended walkways spanned the atrium at the second, third, and fourth floor levels and connected the high-rise and function sections. The second floor walkway was suspended from the fourth floor walkway which was directly above it. In turn, this fourth floor walkway was suspended from .the atrium roof framing by a set of six hanger rods. The third floor walkway was offset from the other two and was independently suspended from the roof framing by another set of hanger rods.

In the collapse, the second and fourth floor walkways fell to the atrium floor, with the fourth floor walkway coming to rest on top of the lower walkway. Most of those killed or injured were either on the first floor level of the atrium or on the second floor walkway. The third floor walkway was not involved in the collapse.

CONTENT a) What and how is (are) the code of ethics violated by the people involved


a) What and how is (are) the code of ethics violated by the people involved (engineers, management, local authority, government) in the case?

During January and February, 1979, the code of ethics has been violated when the safety of the people was neglected when there was a changed in the design of the hanger rod connections in a series of events, where the design from a one-rod to a two-rod system to simplify the assembly task and doubling the load on the connector, which ultimately resulted in the walkway collapse. There was also communications controversy and irresponsible between the fabricator (Havens Steel Company) and the engineering design team (G.C.E. International, Inc.) where the fabricator claimed that his company (Havens) telephoned the engineering firm (G.C.E.) for change approval. However, G.C.E. denied. On October 14, 1979, while the hotel was still under construction, more than 2700 square feet of the atrium roof collapsed because one of the roof connections at the north end of the atrium failed. In testimony, G.C.E. stated that, on three separate occasions, they requested on-site project representation during the construction phase; however, these

requests were not acted on by the owner (Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation), due to additional costs of providing on-site inspection and taking cost benefits. 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. The acts had violated when they create an danger environment when ethical behavior is neglected.

b) What guidance might one (or more) of the engineering society codes of ethics provide in handling or preventing the event from happening?

The code of ethics, engineers should use as guidance is that, engineers shall approve only those engineering documents that are in conformity with applicable standards. In this case when engineering firm (G.C.E) give approval to the changes made in the structural drawing design from single to double hanger rod box beam connection. The engineering firm agrees to change the design by assuming the fabricator knows to apply stiffener plates omitted. Stiffener are used to transfer the vertical loads from rods to the beam webs therefore preventing buckling, Gillum assume the fabricator that is Havens Steel Company know to build the stiffener but the fabricator didn’t thus causing the collapse. In addition the walkway was poorly constructed. October 14 th 1979, part of the atrium roof collapsed while the hotel was under construction. Inspection team was called in, claim no obligation to check the engineering or design work beyond their scope work. Ethically the engineering firm should inspect the cause from the beginning during construction to prevent this tragedy. The inspection team might not know the engineering work or design of the hotel, but the engineering firm should take responsibilities to inspect the cause of collapsed. This shows the importance of accuracy and details in engineering design and drawings particularly regarding revisions, and the costly consequences of neglecting on this matter. The engineer should always monitor the construction instead of giving all the

responsibilities to the constructor of fabricator, because they are not professional in engineering field.

c) Use ethical theories (utilitarianism, duty and right ethic or virtue ethic) learn to analyze the case. Consider all possible elements that are affected in the case. I.e. mankind, environment and society.

Accident happens when constructor of building violate the ethical theories that should their follow. In this case, we can analyze the case following the ethical theories in order to see the effect of this case after the break of the rule in constructing a building. First ethical theories are utilitarianism which defines as a balance between good and bad consequence of an action by taking into account the consequence for everyone affected. Looking in good side, build the walkway for people to use is one of a good things because it can easy for people to go through for a position to another. It makes people less tired by walking up the stairs. The problem is getting bad consequence when the contractor or engineer does not make it in clean way. The engineer does not make a calculation during the building of these walkways. Because of this failure, the walkways are not supported many people to use it and it giving harm to people so that this tragedy happens. Engineer is not following the rule to make to thoroughly check their new design. They thinking of cost benefit by precede the construction when there is a collapse happen while the hotel is under construction. They want to make a biggest profit by not thinking the consequence to other people. They does not stop the construction because they afraid of losing money. Other ethical theories are duty ethic and right ethic. Duty and right ethics are similar. It holds the action is good that respect the right of individual. As an engineer, they should take an action by seal the papers

immediately without doing actual calculation to ensure the safety and practicality of the design. All engineers that involved in this construction are violating the deontology propose by duty ethics.

They failed in

build the safe

building for every people to use.

They also should be responsible for the full version of calculating the load that the walkways can have yet they just assigning one of team technician staff to do the calculation with the risk that he may do them properly or he may not do at all. Every guest of the hotel have their own right to have good safety in renting the hotel but engineer fail to build the safety building for all people. Lastly is the virtue ethic which determines the moral and goodness of person. Engineer that involved in this case are all immoral as they fail to doing the calculation by them self and gambling other people lives. They are not diligent fabricating the building as their fail to follow up about the design alteration. They also lacked prudence when they did not communicate well with the fabricator.

d) Analyze the factual, conceptual and moral issues in the case. Apply either the line-drawing technique or the flow charting

technique to find a solution for the case. Justify the use of your chosen technique.


factual issue in





Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, Missouri was

collapsed on 1981, the 40-story tower after 4 years of design and construction collapsed at the part of second and fourth floor suspended walkways and 114 people died and over 200 people injured. The conceptual issue in this case is the suspended walkways was designed to make people move on easier from second floor to fourth floor but the designer not give an importance on safety parts. The moral issues in this case are the designer was not responsible on people’s life. They comfort people by telling this building is safe to use. Designers lied to the people to make profit for them. Flow charting technique was very helpful for analyzing a variety of cases, especially for the case which have consequences that flows from each decision.

Owner would like to build suspended walkways in Hyatt Regency Is that this walkways safety? NO
Owner would like to build suspended walkways in Hyatt Regency
Is that this walkways safety?
Cancel the design
Cost effective?
Start new project
Start to build

e) What should the people involved (engineers, management, local authority, government) have done differently?

First, engineers should approve the design change with checking it first not approved without checking it and should responsibility for safety ranges from design through to construction and inspection. In this case, engineers approved the design without check it first. Furthermore, engineers also should reanalysis and recheck all connector designs. Other than that, engineers should being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients. Second, management should give when requested on- site project representation to check all fabrication during the construction phase. Management also should discuss carefully with others such as owner and architect before make a decision and being honest to their employers. Third, local authority should maintain and improve technical competence and to undertake technological tasks for others only if qualified by training or experience or after full disclosure of pertinent limitations. Then, government must always conduct and check carefully before approved the project. Apart from that, government should allow and give tasks to engineers that who professional and experience.


To solve the ethical problem there are few techniques can be used which understands ethical problems, analysis of issues in ethical problems, line drawing, flow charting. In order to develop workable ethical problem-solving technique, we must first look at several theories of ethics in order to have a framework for decision making. There are four ethical theories which are utilitarianism, duty ethics, right ethics, right ethics, virtue ethics. The second technique is analysis of issues in ethical problems. A first step in solving any ethical problem is to completely understand all of the issues involved. The issues involved in understanding ethical problems can be split into three categories which are factual, conceptual and moral. The understanding these issues help to put an ethical problem in the proper framework and often helps point the way to a solution. Next is line drawing technique. Line drawing technique is especially useful for situation in which the applicable moral principles are clear, but there seems to be a great deal of “gray area” about which ethical principle applies. Line drawing is performed by drawing a line along which various examples and hypothetical situations are placed. At one end is placed the “positive paradigm” and the other end is “negative paradigm”. The other technique is flow charting. Flowcharting will be helpful for analyzing a variety of cases, especially those in which there is a sequence of event to be considered or a series of consequences that flows from each decision. An advantage of using a flow chart to analyze ethical problems is that it gives a visual picture of a situation and allows you to readily see the consequences that flow from each decision.


Following the collapse of two suspended walkways within the atrium area of the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Mayor Richard L. Berkley formally requested the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) to independently

ascertain the most probable cause of the collapse. In response to this request NBS carried out an extensive field investigation to reconstruct events preceding the collapse and to establish the condition of the walkways at the time of collapse. This included review of documents related to the design and construction of the walkways and measurements and inspections of the debris remaining after the collapse. NBS also conducted comprehensive laboratory studies of materials and mockups representative of the walkway construction and laboratory studies of specimens removed from the debris. These studies were supported by structural analyses of the walkways under the loading condition believed to have existed at the time of collapse.


  • a) Ko, Y.-F. (2010). Concepts and Cases in Engineering Ethics. ETHICS ACROSS THE CURRICULUM, 1-70.

  • b) Case study by Nguee Chin Seng on Forensic Structural Engineering

  • c) Prof. YuFuKo. (2010). The Kansas City Hyatt Regency Walkways Collapse, Case Studies.

  • d) "Specifications, Hyatt Regency, Kansas City," PBNDML, Kansas City, MO, August 1978.

  • e) "Kansas City Building Code," Kansas City, MO, June 1, 1977.