Surfside Hired Him to Investigate Condo Collapse. Here's How He'll Do It.

Allyn Kilsheimer investigated the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge. 

NBC Universal, Inc.

There are three ongoing investigations into the collapse of Champlain Towers South in the Town of Surfside, plus several private investigations, accompanying lawsuits. The National Institute of Standards and Technology launched their review Wednesday. The Miami-Dade State Attorney announced Tuesday an investigation to put in front of a grand jury. 

Last Friday, the Town of Surfside hired Allyn Kilsheimer, a well-known Washington D.C.-based forensic investigator. 

A statement from the Town of Surfside said, “During his decorated career, Kilsheimer has been in direct charge of over $49 billion of construction and has responded to large-scale disasters, both natural and man-made, that require immediate emergency structural shoring, stabilization, selective demolition and reconstruction.”

Kilsheimer’s company, KCE Structural Engineers, has overseen more than 400 projects, conducted more than 100 investigations including more than 30 for structural collapses. He investigated the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon and the collapse of the Florida International University pedestrian bridge. 

Kilsheimer has already toured the sister buildings standing to the North to see if they are structurally sound. Specifically, he walked through the parking lot because that’s the only place you can visibly see interior structure without ripping out walls. 

He told NBC 6 the age of the building alone did not bring the South tower down. 

“Speaking from experience, I’m 80 years old, that doesn’t mean I’m bad, right? The building is 40 years old, it doesn’t mean it’s bad,” Kilsheimer said. 

Kilsheimer shared with NBC 6 the steps his investigation will follow:

Step one: making a list of all reasonable possibilities for the collapse. He said the list could be 20 or 30 items long.

Step two: collecting all the drawings and blueprints of the building and building computer models of how the building should act. 

Step three: collecting and testing the construction material from the collapse. Kilsheimer cannot do that until the search and rescue stage is over. 

Step four: running the information they find into the computer models. 

Step five: adding or eliminating possibilities until they land on the most likely “trigger,” the event which brought the Champlain Towers South down. 

“Things like the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, Oklahoma City, we know what the trigger was there. Other buildings we don’t always know what the trigger is,” Kilsheimer said.  

Surveillance footage shows the moment a 12-story condominium building in Surfside collapsed early Thursday morning. (Warning: Footage may be disturbing for some viewers.)

The process will be lengthy, possibly taking multiple months. 

Kilsheimer told us the pictures NBC 6 has reported from maintenance reports and emails raising concerns about damage are in no way the entire story. 

“Remember those are very limited areas and you don’t know if that’s one square foot out of a million square feet or not. I didn’t see anything in those pictures that would make me say, ‘I think this building is in imminent danger of collapse,’” he said. 

Kilsheimer said there were likely several things happening at once which brought on the structural failure. 

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