A lot of people could describe that night when the skywalks collapsed at the hyatt regency hotel. The same way, 114 people were killed, hundreds of others were heard and it made national headlines, but bob is different as he stood in the lobby of that hotel, witnessing destruction and death on a massive scale. He wondered is all of this, my fault, so your first understanding of the real scope was when i walked in. Can you describe how that hits you when you walk in and see that i had been in vietnam, i’d seen bad stuff, but this was the worst thing i had ever seen. Bob berkel architect of the hyatt regency hotel learned of the disaster on television at a friend’s house that friday night in less than half an hour, he was inside the lobby. I’Ve read an account of you saying one of your first thoughts was. Did i kill all these people? Do you remember thinking that absolutely and i spent the longest night of my life watching the recovery berkel designed the skywalks years earlier, with visions of people watching big events from above the lobby? The plan for those bridges, however, was significantly changed during construction. The original design was one rod from ceiling to the lowest bridge. The fabrication engineer suggested to the structural engineer that it would be more efficient to have two rods rather than one very long rod and, and they all concluded that a it was important and b.
There was no safety problem. That assessment couldn’t have been more wrong. The bridges technically, as the report reads, would have fallen eventually under their own weight and the timing. Couldn’T have been worse, as around 600 people had gathered that night for a tea dance. When bob arrived at the hotel that night and identified himself, he was immediately put to work not specifically on the rescue effort, but rather to make sure the building itself was not going to get worse. They were concerned that by, for example, lifting a piece of a bridge to get weight off of people and get them out that it would fall and the whole thing would fall through to the garage below during that long night. Burkebeil had a moment that literally brought him to his knees. I had been asked to examine more closely the connection of the bridge it was like that had fallen. I was climbing up to examine this connection and about at this point in the cables that were still attached to the side of the bridge was a part of a face, and i thought it was like one of my friends and Music. I collapsed. The investigation into the hyatt tragedy concluded with a ruling that engineers were at fault, not burcobile. Well, this was the largest construction failure in america before 9 11., but that decision brought little comfort 40 years later it still doesn’t. There was no relief in learning that it was a structural failure, because that couldn’t change what had happened psychologically.
It still breaks my heart to be there for all the obvious reasons. When i walk through there, i can’t avoid the memories of that night. Bob bergabel is now 84 years old, but still works in architecture and design. He and his firm have worked on many of kansas, city’s, most well known buildings, including the nelson atkins museum, one kansas city place and union station.