The perhaps reluctant changes to Philadelphia building, demolition, and inspection codes generated by the deadly collapse of 4-story building into a Salvation Army store just a few months ago might not be felt for many years. In the meantime, many structures built and given a fee pass under prevailing codes might collapse and injure or kill numerous victims.

For instance on Saturday, at a home on Provident Road in Philadelphia’s Cedarbrook section, the deck collapsed onto a car, sending two people to the Albert Einstein Medical Center with serious injuries. The City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, which has been widely castigated for its lax practices after the deadly building collapse into the Salvation Army store, has reportedly been notified.

BuildingCollapse5Jun2013PhiladelphiaWe’ve been reading over the last few days of new changes in Philadelphia laws regarding construction and demolition. The new laws are a reaction to the high profile, deadly collapse of a 4-story building into a Salvation Army story just a few months ago. The daughter of the City Treasurer tragically died in that collapse. In total, 6 people died. And 14 were seriously injured. One woman who survived had to have both legs amputated. Might we suggest that the Philadelphia changes come too little, too late?

To avoid potential structural collapses, may we also suggest the element of flying buttresses? They might initially seem clumsy, but if you look at the Cathédral de Notre Dame de Paris, you’ll note that they add a certain element of beauty. And that cathedral has lasted through all sorts of conditions for more than 7 centuries. Few modern structures even last 7 decades. We’re just mentioning it. Do the (structural/stress engineering) math.