Ethical Ethics

In 1981, the Kansas City Hyatt Regency Hotel in Missouri, collapsed killing 114 and injuring 200. On the night of July 17th, 1981, a tea party was held, with over 1600 people gathered to watch the ceremony. With the large number of people on the walkways, the second floor and fourth floor bridge collapsed into the lobby below. This catastrophe later became one of the classic examples of how important it is to not be negligent when it comes to engineering ethics as the case proved to be full of moral and ethical issues. After the initial plan was made, construction was set to follow the layout of the design, stamped and sealed by the head engineers of GEC. However, Haven Steel Corporation decided to make last minute changes. Originally, the rod supporting the fourth floor needed to be threaded but Haven believed that it was better to create 2 different rods connecting the fourth floor to the ceiling and the other rod connecting the second floor to the fourth floor. This change resulted in the collapse of the two floors onto the atrium below. In GEC’s defense, Haven never called to ask for advice and approval on the change. Haven said they had called multiple times.

The case costed millions of dollars in lawsuits as well as the loss of several professional engineering licenses and thus the bankruptcy of many engineering firms. Despite the fact that Haven Co. may or may not have actually called for approval, the GEC engineers were accountable for ensuring that the building would be structurally sound and under Kansas City Code. It was their job to double check and not place too much reliance on the security of Haven Co. Their gross negligence to reevaluate the structure resulted in hundreds of lost lives. It was also found, that under careful scrutiny, the original plans would not have been sufficient enough to meet the requirements of the Kansas City building code. While GEC took the fall for this mistake, Haven Co. also faced moral issues as they were the ones who originally changed the plans to make construction easier and faster. This lack of work ethic also contributed to this disaster. If the original plans were sound, and would meet the Kansas City building codes, my friend believes that it should have been Haven at fault, as they were the ones who mistakenly wanted to expedite the construction process. However, because the original plans were faulty at start, me and my friend agree that GEC should be at fault.

In conclusion, I agree with the ruling that GEC and related companies should take the hit. Haven Steel Corporation wanted to hasten the construction process by creating two rods connecting the fourth floor to the ceiling and the second floor to the fourth floor. Originally, the plan was to thread the rod to support the fourth floor. But Haven Co. never told the GEC engineers. Despite this dilemna, it was found that the original plans were not sufficient enough to follow code standards, thus, the engineers who signed and sealed on the original plans should have their license removed as it was literally their job to ensure that the building code was up to Kansas City building code standards.