Philadelphia Office Tower with scaffolding

Philadelphia Office Tower

Location Philadelphia, PA

Category Commercial

Liability Claim Investigation

When a 2’x3’ stone panel fell from the 25th floor of a Philadelphia office tower and through the roof of an adjacent restaurant, the insurance company called Hoffmann Architects + Engineers to investigate.

Our design professionals found the building envelope to be in poor condition, with severely corroded angles, anchors, and window frames, as well as displaced stone panels. Poorly executed repairs, inappropriate patching materials, and neglect had allowed water to enter the facade, where it became trapped and caused further damage. When the building was constructed, in the 1920s, precast concrete was not designed with the same resistance to freeze-thaw damage as it is today, and construction standards for wall cladding were not as stringent. In short, it was less surprising that an ill-maintained building of substandard construction had failed than that the incident hadn’t happened sooner.

Hoffmann’s design team reviewed climatological data and found no unusual or significant weather occurrence that could have caused the panel to come loose from the building. After reviewing previous inspections, reports, and construction documents, our architects and engineers concluded that the overall age and physical distress of the building facade were the primary causes of the failure.

Philadelphia Office Tower poorly executed facade repair that failed, leaving dangerous conditions

Poorly executed repairs had failed, leaving dangerous conditions

Philadelphia Office Tower spalled concrete removed by hand

Spalled concrete removed by hand during the investigation

Philadelphia Office Tower showing overall poor facade conditions

Overall, facade conditions at the office tower showed extensive deterioration and distress