Quality Alert: Steel bolts break on Cheesegrater skyscraper in London !

cheesegrater london

A major quality failure has recently been recorded last Tuesday in London, UK.

An area around the 47-storey Leadenhall Building in the city of London has been cordoned off because a part of a bolt from the frame of the building fell on the ground, fortunately not causing any casualties.

The bolt actually fell from the 5th floor to the ground and  another bolt broke off but was contained within the building.

These bolts are about the size of an arm and the piece that actually fell was the size of a hand.

The Developers said that there is no issue with the structural integrity of the building and the investigation of the causes of the failure is still on going.

You can read more about the failure here. 

cheesegrater london construction

The “Cheesegrater”

The Leadenhall Building is a 225 m (737 ft) tall skyscraper recently built in 122 Leadenhall Street in London, UK and it’s the 4th tallest building in UK.

Take a look inside the “Cheesegrater”:

It’s been designed by Architect Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and it’s due to be completed this month. Some really innovative construction techniques and technologies have been used to be built.

The Leadenhall building is also informally known as the “Cheesegrater” because of its distinctive wedge shape.

You can see the impressive construction methodology in the video below:

QIC opinion: The Leadenhall building is an amazing building and engineering achievement but that sounds like a really major failure and it is probably a miracle that there were no casualties on the ground. It sounds more like a material failure rather than an installation failure but of course this is just only an assumption since no more details were published. There are many questions that need to be answered by the supplier/fabricator/manufacturer of these bolts but it shouldn’t be difficult to figure out what happened and why they failed. It sounds funny to even question the structural integrity of the building after the failure of 2 bolts while at the same time it’s easy to start “blame games” in such cases. On the other hand the failure does sound embarrassing and generated some bad publicity. Blaming the contractor, the Developer or the fabricator will not help the investigation. The important thing here, is for everyone to make sure that such incidents will not happen again and basically learn some lessons after fully investigating the causes.The big challenge would be to find out that root cause and then probably start checking all of the 2998 remaining bolts of the frame….  Who can be sure after that?

Could have this major failure be prevented in your opinion?

Why do you think they failed from what we know up to now?

What’s your opinion?

Drop us a comment below!

UPDATE 18/11/2014: According to a statement by the building developers (British Land) the report onto these 2 failed bolts will not be published until the New Year. The Contractor and the Structural  Designer are currently checking all 3000 bolts of the building.

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Pavlos Inglesis
I am a Chartered Civil Engineer (CEng-MICE) and a Chartered Quality Professional (MCQI CQP) working in the construction industry for about 20 years. My specialty is Quality Control and Quality Assurance Management in Construction Projects. I have worked on projects in the Middle East, and Greece and am now based in the UK.

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