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Peter Dyga, ABC Florida East Coast Chapter president, has been one of the go-to experts in the aftermath of the shocking collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida. 

As of publication, the death toll stands at 46 people and another 94 remain unaccounted for. On July 7, rescue officials announced the search would transition to a recovery operation at midnight on July 8, following the demolition of the remaining building over the July 4 weekend. 

Dyga sat down with Construction Executive to discuss the critical nature of this tragedy and to review potential next steps.  


Construction Executive: This incident has become national news. Why do you think the building collapse has garnered so much attention? 
Peter Dyga: Because of the enormity of the tragedy and because it’s so uncommon for a building to collapse on its own.

CE: What is the construction industry’s responsibility in these crises? 
PD: To make sure people understand their buildings are safe and that answers will take a long, deliberate effort looking at all the facts, including the building design, engineering, construction and maintenance.

CE: How can the construction industry prevent such tragedies in future? 
PD: We need to be both the thought leaders and influence leaders for the industry. We also need to be as strong as we can at the local and state levels of government to be sure solutions are not one-dimensional and focus on the entire construction process.

CE: What are the legal and regulatory ramifications of this that the industry needs to brace for? 
PD: Government tends to overreact to crises, so we need to insist that all the facts become known before legal or regulatory “fixes” are enacted. Ultimately, if more frequent building recertifications are required, it will result in more work for certain segments of our industry, placing an even greater burden on an already tight labor market. 

CE: What can or should the current property owner expect from contractors hired to fix the damage? How should such contenders be vetted? 
PD: Always check whether the contractor:

  • Is licensed.
  • Is experienced.
  • Has safety credentials or qualifications.
  • Is committed to professional development for their craft and management professionals.
  • Gives back to their communities.

These will be the best marks of a contractor who will not only get the job done right, but who you will be proud you awarded the work to. 

CE: Looking forward, what would you say to those concerned about the state of the buildings in which they live and work?
PD: This tragedy will take years to fully understand the cause. But beyond a doubt, weatherproofing and longstanding deferred maintenance to structural components of the building played a significant factor in the catastrophic system failure. Nevertheless, people should not be concerned that the buildings they live and work in are unsafe.

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