Harbor Cay Condominium collapse

The Harbor Cay Condominium was a five-story flat plate residential development project in Cocoa Beach (Brevard County, Florida, United States) that collapsed during construction on March 27, 1981. Eleven workers were killed and 27 injured.[2]

Harbor Cay Condominium collapse
DateMarch 27, 1981 (1981-03-27)
Coordinates28°20′46″N 80°36′39″W / 28.34611°N 80.61083°W / 28.34611; -80.61083Coordinates: 28°20′46″N 80°36′39″W / 28.34611°N 80.61083°W / 28.34611; -80.61083
CauseErrors in design and construction
Non-fatal injuries27
Harbor Cay Condominium
General information
Construction started1980
Construction stopped1981
Height18.5 m[1]
Technical details
Floor count5
Design and construction
DeveloperUnivel Corporation

The building, being constructed by the Univel Corporation of Cocoa Beach, collapsed as workers were completing its framework by pouring concrete for the roof.[3] The accident led to more rigorous enforcement of engineering and construction codes in Florida and elsewhere.


The collapse was due to numerous errors in design and construction. The concrete slabs were only 8 inches (200 mm) thick and should have been 11 inches (280 mm) thick to satisfy the American Concrete Institute's Building Code minimum. The plastic chair spacers used to support the slab steel were 4+14 inches (110 mm) high, which coupled with the thin slabs led to a very small effective depth.[2]


Two engineers, an architect, and two contractors were charged with negligence, misconduct and failing to conform to state and local building laws. Both of the engineers surrendered their license to practice engineering in the state of Florida, paid fines, and promised to never practice in Florida again; litigation against the architect and contractors continued.[4] According to Mike Thomas of the Orlando Sentinel on April 20, 1997, the local contractor, Unival, folded almost immediately. The senior developer, and the real money behind the project, contractor Towne Realty out of Milwaukee, agreed to a settlement out of court to avoid litigation. They have continued to develop properties to this day.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Harbour Cay". Archived from the original on July 9, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Delatte, Norbert, P.E., Ph.D., Assistant Professor (July 2003). "Harbor Cay Condominium, Florida". Case Studies in Failures and Ethics for Engineering Educators. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Archived from the original (html) on 2008-01-07. Retrieved 5 March 2008.
  3. ^ Montgomery, Paul (March 29, 1981). "Two still missing in condominium collapse". New York Times.
  4. ^ "Engineer in Building Collapse Gives Up His Florida License". New York Times. September 18, 1981.