View Full Version : Roof Collapse at New Paris Airport Terminal

May 23rd, 2004, 08:19 AM
May 23, 2004

At Least 6 Killed in Roof Collapse at Paris Airport


Filed at 7:14 a.m. ET

PARIS (AP) -- A section of the futuristic, cylindrical passenger terminal at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport collapsed Sunday, killing up to six people and injuring three in a shower of concrete, glass and steel.

There was no sign that foul play was to blame for the collapse, Transport Minister Gilles de Robien said. The terminal opened 11 months ago after several construction delays, which French television station LCI said were caused by safety issues.

``Some witnesses heard cracks just before the collapse, cracks and some dust from the concrete,'' said Pierre Graff, president of the Paris airports authority.

An Air France plane coming from New York and another from Johannesburg, South Africa had just landed at Terminal 2E when the accident happened at about 7 a.m., Graff said. The identities of the dead were not immediately known.

The 450-yard-long cylinder-shaped structure sits on pylons about 20 feet off the ground. It is surrounded by glass and honeycombed with hundreds of square windows that bathe the area inside with natural light.

The collapsed area was about 50 yards long.

President Jacques Chirac said he was requesting ``that the necessary investigations be immediately started so that the causes of this accident can be determined as quickly as possible.''

Paris Fire Dept. Chief Laurent Vibert said six people were killed, while Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said five were confirmed dead.

Search dogs indicated there were few, if any, people still under the wreckage, said Michel Sappin, prefect of the Seine-Saint-Denis region where Charles de Gaulle airport is located just north of Paris.

Hundreds of rescue workers rushed to the scene and temporary hospitals were set up on the tarmac and inside the terminal.

The terminal will eventually have the capacity for 10 million passengers per year.

Just north of Paris, Charles de Gaulle is France's largest airport, handling about 58 million passengers a year, with more than half a million arrivals and departures.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press


May 24th, 2004, 12:43 AM
From the Telegraph UK:

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.

May 24th, 2004, 01:13 AM
The Herald Sun, Melbourne

Airport architect rushes back
From correspondents in Beijing

FRENCH architect Paul Andreu, who designed the terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport where a walkway collapsed killing five, refused to speculate on the cause today but said he would immediately return to France.

"I'm cutting short my stay here. I am shocked and will return tomorrow (Tuesday) to Paris," he told AFP in Beijing where he is working on the city's new landmark National Theatre. "I don't for a minute want to speculate on what might be the cause of the accident. On my return, I will place myself at the disposal of the French airport authorities."

He said the design of the terminal might have been "bold", but the materials used were "nothing revolutionary".

At least five people were killed and three others injured yesterday when the roof of a walkway that had opened just 11 months ago collapsed at Paris' main Charles de Gaulle airport. Several tonnes of concrete, metal bars and glass panelling came crashing down on an arrival and departure passageway at the airport's futuristic Terminal 2E, strewing rubble over a 30-metre area. A section of the glass-encased walkway caved in, falling on to service vehicles parked below.

At least one of the dead was Chinese, a man identified by Xinhua news agency as Wu Xin, a member of a Chinese trade delegation. A woman member of the delegation was "missing", Xinhua added. A Czech woman was also identified among the dead although the nationalities of the other victims were not immediately known.

© Herald and Weekly Times

May 24th, 2004, 11:17 AM
Terrible news.

How does this sort of thing happen in this high-tech age?

TLOZ Link5
May 24th, 2004, 02:39 PM
Human error knows no advances in technology.

Either way, the news is awful.

TLOZ Link5
May 24th, 2004, 05:43 PM
Associated Press says that there are signs (and sounds) of structural failure throughout the terminal. They're considering demolishing the entire building.

May 24th, 2004, 06:00 PM
Some nice shots of Charles de Gaulle Airport:

http://brushstroke.tv/norway/norway.001.jpg (http://www.lightningfield.com/extra/0305cdg/source/4.html)

May 25th, 2004, 02:45 PM
Paris Airport May Cancel Fewer Than 2% of Flights on Roof Crash

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Aeroports de Paris, the city's airfields operator, expects fewer than 2 percent of Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport's flights to be delayed or canceled in coming days as the result of a terminal roof's collapse on Sunday.

Almost all flights serving Terminal 2E, which may be closed for as long as a year, have been assigned to other sections, Rene Brun, director of the airport, said.

The 11-month-old, 750 million-euro ($907 million) Terminal 2E was shut after part of the roof fell in, causing the deaths of four people. The closure is more damaging to Air France, Europe's biggest airline, than to other carriers because the terminal is the core of transfer-flight operations in Paris for Air France and its partners in the SkyTeam alliance.

"Yesterday, we had 13,090 flights'' landing at or leaving the airport, Brun said at a press conference at a hotel at the airport. "Roughly a dozen were canceled.'' The number of flights will rise to about 15,000 on Saturday and Sunday, as weekends are busier, and "98 percent or 99 percent of those will be maintained, even if things are a bit more difficult.''

Aeroports de Paris expects to rebuild Terminal 2E "within several months,'' Brun said. Asked to specify the timeframe, he said rebuilding may take "more than a year.'' The authority doesn't know whether the building can be restored or razed and rebuilt, he said.

Terminal 2E is composed of a departure-gate area, where the roof collapsed, a check-in section and a shopping arcade. The check-in desks and shops may be useable within "several weeks,'' once engineers determine the areas are safe, Brun said.

Gates for A380

The airport expects to be ready to handle Airbus SAS's 555- seat A380 airliner as of April 2007, when a new extension to Terminal 2E will be completed, Brun said. That structure will accommodate six A380s at a time. Until then, the airport has gates for one A380 at Terminal 2C, one at Terminal 2A and two at Terminal 1, Brun said.

Besides Air France, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Emirates plan to fly the A380 into Charles de Gaulle.

SkyTeam partners using Terminal 2E include Delta Air Lines Inc., the U.S.'s third-biggest carrier; Cintra SA's Aerovias de Mexico SA unit; the Czech Republic's CSA AS and Korean Air Co. Ltd. Routes served from the terminal include New York; Mexico City; Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Guangzhou, China.

Air France uses some other terminals at Charles de Gaulle. Many of its European flights serve Terminal 2F, just across from Terminal 2E, and from Terminal 2D.

The roof collapsed a month before French authorities were scheduled to introduce a bill in parliament to change Aeroports de Paris's status from a government authority to a state-owned limited-liability company, a condition for selling shares to the public.

Aeroports de Paris expects the French state to sell at least a third of the company's shares to the public, Chief Executive Pierre Graff said in March. The initial public offering is scheduled for the middle of next year.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrea Rothman in Paris aerothman@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

May 25th, 2004, 02:49 PM
Everybody is't perfect. I just feel bad for people who died are injured and Paul Andreu.

May 27th, 2004, 01:08 AM
May 27, 2004


The Architectural Blame Game


FISSURE. Cracking. Collapse.

Those were the distressing words — the ones no architect, engineer or builder ever wants to hear — that filled news accounts of a disaster early Sunday morning at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris, where part of the new Terminal 2E gave way, killing four people.

But there was another word buried just under the surface of those early reports: hubris. In their descriptions of the elliptical concrete, glass and steel terminal's "ultramodern" and "futuristic" design, journalists were at least implicitly making the case that its French architect, Paul Andreu, and his structural engineers might well turn out to be the primary culprits in its collapse.

In fact, by Wednesday, French officials were speculating that the blame would ultimately be laid, instead, at the feet of the contractors.

"When incidents like this happen, the press loves to trot out this morality play suggesting that the reason for the disaster is that the architect wanted to do something new or unusual," said Terence Riley, chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

He added that after four workers were killed in the collapse of a garage at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City last fall, a building with much more straightforward design than Mr. Andreu is known for, "nobody thought it had been caused by the architect."

Though new technologies or design strategies have sometimes led to problems, the results have rarely been deadly. The windows falling in 1973 from the John Hancock Tower, built by I. M. Pei & Partners in Boston, got huge amounts of press attention, but killed no one. And when Foster & Partners' Millennium Bridge in London began swaying after it opened in June 2000, thanks to what engineers memorably called the problem of "synchronous lateral excitation" caused by pedestrians, plenty of people were nauseated, but no one was injured.

Mr. Andreu's design for the collapsed terminal relies in part on systems that are used in tunnel construction rather than in airports. Still, the terminal hardly looks daring compared with the feats of gravity-defying fancy that architects and engineers, aided by powerful and flexible software, are pulling off with regularity these days.

Buildings by architects like Frank Gehry and Rem Koolhaas, whose angular public library in Seattle opened last weekend to rapturous reviews, are upping the ante, leading the public to expect jaw-dropping engineering of one type or another in practically every major new building. At the same time, the engineers that make those swooping or cantilevered designs possible are themselves gaining a higher profile. Cecil Balmond, an engineer who often works with Mr. Koolhaas, has published his own stylish monograph, while the work of Guy Nordenson, an engineer based in Manhattan, has gained a following.

The trend is perhaps best epitomized by Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish architect who is also trained as a civil engineer, and whose buildings, including a planned transit hub at the World Trade Center site, often include anthropomorphic moving parts.

But all has not been rosy lately in the land of daring architects and their engineering partners. Mr. Nordenson is no longer part of the design team on the Freedom Tower at ground zero, a job that promised to raise his profile even higher. Mr. Calatrava, too, has seen his star dim a bit: his new roof for the main Olympic Stadium in Athens is only half complete and has become an unfortunate symbol of the city's rush to overcome construction delays as it gets ready for the Games this summer.

Now the collapse of Mr. Andreu's airport terminal seems to be adding to the perception that high-design solutions can sometimes make for little more than expensive experiments. In truth, most cases of building collapse have nothing to do with how innovative the architecture is, said Leslie Robertson, who was a chief engineer of the World Trade Center towers.

"When problems occur, it's usually in the interface" between architects, engineers and contractors, he said. In other words, it is in translating the design from one office to the next that mistakes are amplified and become deadly. "Seldom can one say with any certainty, `That's it, that right there is where the trouble happened,' " he added.

No matter what the investigation into the collapse ultimately reveals, said Jon Magnusson, chairman and chief executive of Magnusson Klemencic Associates, a structural engineering firm in Seattle, "It can't solely be the architecture."

"Every structural engineer has a duty," he said. "If the architecture doesn't allow you to do something that needs to be done to keep the building up, you must stop."

Mr. Andreu is one of the world's most prominent airport designers, having worked on dozens of such projects. He has also designed a new Chinese national theater in Beijing. Chinese officials said the Paris collapse would not affect plans for the theater.

If they had decided to scale back the project, though, it probably would not have come as a shock. We have always asked architects to help push the boundaries of art and science but turned on them, even when they were not fully, or even partly, to blame, when we feel buildings have put us at risk.

The most telling case is probably that of the 13th-century Gothic cathedral in the French city of Beauvais. Anyone who has taken an architectural history course will recall the story of that cathedral, whose highest vault fell in 1284. Plenty of historians have blamed the collapse on overly bold design, peppering their accounts with architects who "rushed" into the sky.

But Marvin Trachtenberg, a professor at New York University, said the evidence actually suggests a more mundane problem. The vaults fell, he said, "because there was a miscalculation in the buttressing, an eccentric placement of key supports."

In other words, the cathedral gave way not because the architects tried to go too high or because they were experimenting with new forms, but because they failed to properly apply structural knowledge they had used before, with predictable success. Perhaps this will turn out to be what happened in the same country exactly 720 years later.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

May 27th, 2004, 06:16 PM
My bet is shear failure at the base support of the archway. It looks like it snapped clean and came through.

That is usually a sign of insufficient reinforcement.

I will probably bet on improper or non-existant placement of necessary reinforcement bars at the base of the arch.

This might be in combination with heat, or creep of the concrete developing stress concentrations that eventually caused catastrophic sudden (non-ductile) failure.

My guess.

May 27th, 2004, 09:04 PM
yep.. but all the rebar in the world probably wouldn't have held it without some columns somewhere.

May 27th, 2004, 11:43 PM
May 28, 2004

Paris Airport Collapse: A View From the Art World

To the Editor:

Re "New Cracks Stop Search at Terminal After Collapse" (news article, May 25), about the collapse of a section of Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris:

Your article does a disservice by including a reference to "extreme designs" and linking innovation to danger before any analysis is available to explain what might have caused the tragedy.

The "fashion for increasingly innovative buildings" cited implies that there is a potential new and pervasive risk in the soundness of recent such buildings.

In fact, this "fashion" began more than 100 years ago with the daring experiments in cast iron, steel and concrete structures that were intended not only to reach great heights but also to replace the traditional wooden structures that had for centuries been the greatest risk to life and property in urban areas throughout the world.

Chief Curator
Museum of Modern Art
Long Island City, Queens
May 25, 2004

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

June 1st, 2004, 11:51 AM
Architect Behind Collapsed Paris Airport Terminal at Center of Probe Linked to Beijing's New Opera House

By Verena von Derschau

Associated Press - 1*June 2004

PARIS (AP)*— The architect of a futuristic terminal at Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport whose roof collapsed, killing four, is at the center of a French probe opened last year into alleged financial wrongdoing, judicial officials revealed Friday.
Paul Andreu, who designed Terminal 2E, faces suspicions of alleged irregularities in the way he won a bid to design an opera house in Beijing, China, the officials said on condition of anonymity.
The investigation*— which does not specifically target Andreu or his firm — centers on alleged "misuse of company property." Paris prosecutors opened the probe last year after receiving anonymous letters alleging kickbacks and double-pay for Andreu and his firm.
Until now, no one is under investigation in connection with the probe, conducted by Investigating Judge Anne-Elisabeth Honorat.
The letters alleged that between 2000 and 2002, Andreu was paid as a salaried architect for Paris airport operator Aéroports de Paris, or ADP, while his private firm received fees from ADP. In addition, illicit funds were allegedly funneled to Chinese intermediaries so that Andreu could win the opera house contract, according to the letters.
Andreu, 63, allegedly began seeking the opera house bid in 1998. ADP signed an "assistance agreement" for his Chinese projects, Le Parisien newspaper reported Friday [28 May].
No one answered repeated calls Friday evening by The Associated Press to Andreu's Paris office seeking comment.
The futuristic terminal 2E, a showcase at Charles de Gaulle, has been closed indefinitely after last Sunday's collapse [23 May], which killed four people. The collapse risks tarnishing the image of the airport just as Paris works to burnish its reputation as an important European hub.
Andreu, who has said he was stunned and saddened by the roof collapse, rushed back to Paris from China on Tuesday to help determine why a portion of the structure came crashing down.
Two investigations, one judicial and one administrative, have been opened to determine whether the design, calculations, construction or the ground upon which the terminal was built were at fault.
Andreu has worked on projects in Dubai, Japan, Chile and elsewhere.

June 17th, 2004, 11:39 AM
New search for bodies at collapsed Paris terminal

PARIS, June 15 (AFP) - Police with sniffer dogs carried out a new search for bodies on Tuesday among the debris of a roof section that collapsed at Charles de Gaulle airport last month, sources close to the investigation said on Tuesday.

After a four-hour search the specialists, who travelled to the airport north of Paris from southern France, uncovered nothing new, a source said.

According to another source, two people believed to have been in transit via the airport on the day of the accident are still unaccounted for. The two had been travelling from Indonesia, the source said.

Four people were killed and three hurt on May 23 when a section of roof collapsed in the airport's ultra-modern Terminal E, a 650-metre tubular building.

Experts are still trying to determine the cause of the deadly roof collapse, and the terminal remains closed to passengers.

Air France said on Tuesday that it was changing the times of some of its transatlantic flights, as a result of the incident.


June 24th, 2004, 09:05 PM

July 1st, 2004, 02:00 AM
JULY 1, 2004

Damaged Paris airport terminal to reopen soon

Air France and the airport authorities, struggling to reorganise affected flights, are eager to recover use of Terminal 2E

By Susan Bell

PARIS - Just a month after a section of a terminal at France's largest airport collapsed, killing four people, the airport's management is considering reopening part of the damaged building.

The news that Aeroports de Paris (ADP) may reopen Terminal 2E at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport came just weeks after ADP president Pierre Graff vowed to tear down the futuristic 750 million euro (S$1.56 billion) structure if it was proved unsafe.

A spokesman confirmed last week that engineers had assured ADP that an area of Terminal 2E, separate from the collapsed section, could be reopened safely. The area, which contains offices for ADP staff, is expected to reopen soon.

Surprisingly, ADP's announcement was ignored by both the local media and the public, although the CFDT airport employees' union had announced earlier that it was taking civil action against ADP over the risks to workers.

Both ADP and Air France are eager to recover the use of Terminal 2E, which has been closed since a 33m section of the roof collapsed onto a waiting area.

ADP is in urgent need of a temporary departure lounge that can simultaneously handle passengers for up to two large planes. Another larger departure lounge would be opened in the autumn.

The ultra-modern structure, with bays for 17 aircraft, was designed to handle 10 million passengers a year.

Since it opened in June last year, about 20,000 travellers a day had passed through the 400m-long structure of concrete, steel and glass.

Since the accident, ADP and Air France have been struggling to reorganise the 90 flights a day that used to arrive at or depart from Terminal 2E.

The roof collapse has presented major problems for Air France, which had invested 50 million euros in the building. The terminal was designed to be the showpiece of the airport and a key part of the strategy to turn it into Europe's leading airport, with space for the arrival of the giant A380 Airbus in 2007.

The terminal's closure has forced the company to modify its schedules and divert about 90 flights a day by Air France and other SkyTeam members (Aeromexico, CSA, Delta and Korean Airlines) to nearby terminals.

American Airlines has shifted its operations to Orly airport, to the south of Paris.

Terminal 2E handled mainly international flights while the terminals to which the flights have been diverted were not equipped with the necessary Customs and immigration infrastructure, giving ADP and Air France more headaches.

Two probes into the tragedy have been launched. Experts say a criminal investigation into the possible causes of the accident could take several years to complete.

But an initial report on an administrative investigation is expected to be delivered to Transport Minister Gilles de Robien at the end of the month.
Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

July 1st, 2004, 09:43 AM
Several years?


It would take several months to find out WHAT happened, several YEARS to find out who was at fault.

July 1st, 2004, 09:50 AM
They do that in hopes that people some how had forgotten all about it. Which some will or want to forget when another tragedy comes and they will focus all their energy on that instead. :roll:

July 6th, 2004, 03:50 PM
Weak concrete blamed for Paris terminal collapse

Tue 6 July, 2004 20:31

PARIS (Reuters) - Weaknesses in the concrete used for the roof of a futuristic Paris airport terminal were the main cause of its collapse on May 23, killing four people, an official report says.

The initial findings by an investigative commission did not apportion blame or comment on the future of the terminal, which was built at a cost of 750 million euros (500 million pounds) and could be razed if its structure is fundamentally flawed.

The Transport Ministry said it was still not completely clear why the accident happened at Terminal 2E of Charles De Gaulle airport more than two years after it was built.

"The view of the commission is that the main cause of the sudden collapse is linked to the perforation of the concrete roof by the struts (supporting it)," the ministry said of the initial findings on Tuesday.

"It is likely that this perforation was facilitated by the prior and gradual weakening of the concrete," it added.

The terminal was designed to handle 10 million passengers a year. Permanent closure of the showcase building would be a big blow to the finances and image of operator Aeroports de Paris (ADP) as it prepares for partial privatisation.

Part of the terminal was opened to staff last month but ADP has pledged to raze the cylindrical boarding-area building to the ground if the structure is found to be fundamentally flawed.

Jean Berthier, the head of the investigative commission, told a news conference much more work had to be done searching through the rubble and ruins.

"Several more months are needed but we have been asked to work quickly," he said.

Berthier said it was important to find out why part of the terminal had collapsed at this particular time and not sooner. He said other factors, such as big temperature differences in various parts of the terminal, should be investigated.

A public prosecutor is carrying out a separate inquiry into the collapse, which could establish who is to blame.

The terminal was used mainly by national carrier Air France and was opened just over a year ago.

Hailed as a triumph of engineering and design, the terminal has a domed roof dotted with windows bathing it in light. But the collapse raised questions both about its design and whether it was built too fast.

The report said it was unlikely that the collapse was linked either to the foundations of the building or to the pillars on which the whole terminal was supported above the ground.

July 7th, 2004, 08:35 PM
A comprehensive overview:
http://www.structurae.net/photos/64/roissy_aeroport_charles_de_gaulle_aerogare_2e_exte rieur.jpg (http://www.structurae.net/en/structures/data/s0009234/index.cfm)

July 8th, 2004, 07:55 PM
July 9, 2004 Fri
PARIS - France's busiest airport will reopen part of a terminal that was not damaged when a segment of the roof collapsed in May, killing four people.

Transport Minister Gilles de Robien said a section of the three-building 2E terminal at Charles de Gaulle Airport would return to service on July 15.

A preliminary report by experts said a weakness in the concrete that formed the terminal's vaulted roof may have contributed to the collapse. -- AP

hella good
July 9th, 2004, 04:27 AM
its a real shame because it was such a beautiful terminal as well

July 9th, 2004, 10:52 AM
Paris Terminal Concrete Met Standard

July 9, 2004

The concrete Lafarge supplied for the construction of the futuristic Paris airport terminal that collapsed on May 23 met French standards and the airport's technical specifications, the firm said on Friday.

An official report published on Tuesday said weaknesses in the concrete used for the roof of the Terminal 2E building at Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport were the main cause of its collapse, which killed four people.

That day, however, the chairman of a commission of enquiry probing the accident told a news conference that "the quality of concrete is not in question". The chairman, Jean Berthier, said the collapse was linked to the perforation of the concrete roof by the struts supporting it.

Checks carried out by Lafarge's subsidiary Beton de Paris and by a consortium of companies which pre-cast the concrete shells for the terminal's vault had confirmed the product delivered conformed to the order specifications, the French construction firm reiterated in a statement.

Tuesday's initial findings by the investigative commission did not apportion blame or comment on the future of the terminal, which was built at a cost of EUR750 million (USD$920 million) and could be demolished if its structure is fundamentally flawed.

The Transport Ministry said it was still not completely clear why the accident happened at the terminal more than two years after it was built.


July 9th, 2004, 11:50 AM
Shear failure at the bottom supports.

It may have been a stress concentration at the working points that was not properly accounted for, OR it could have been an improper implimentation of the construction (too few rebar, rebar placed incorrectly, rebar not bonded properly).

but a sudden failure like this is usually due to concrete failure, or failure of both to act in sync.

The fact that it occured after several years, and due to no unusual loading also beings crack propogation and things like fatigue and thermal stress into question.

I am interested to see who dropped the ball on this one.

July 9th, 2004, 12:21 PM
Paris terminal collapsed after metal supports pierced ceiling
PARIS (AFP) - The collapse of part of a roof at a Paris airport terminal killing four people was caused by metal supports boring their way into an overhead concrete vault and causing it to split, according to preliminary findings announced Tuesday.

"The main cause of the collapse is linked to perforation of the concrete archway by (cylindrical metal struts)," the transport ministry said, drawing on an interim report by a committee of enquiry into the accident, in which three people were also injured.

A section of roof collapsed on May 23 in the ultra-modern Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle airport.

It was not yet known why metal supports had crunched into the concrete structure they were supposed to be supporting, a ministry statement said.

But it suggested it was probable that gradual deterioration of the condition of the concrete had aided the undermining process.

Ministry sources said the perforation by the metal had caused the vault to rupture due to stress.

A metal strut had gone through the concrete shell at a point where the crack occurred. In doing so, the strut was no longer able to support the structure, which then folded in on itself and collapsed.

As long as the primary causes of the collapse had not yet been finally established, there were no plans to demolish the remains of the terminal, a possibility aired in public after the disaster.

"It's only if it should appear irreparable that the building will be demolished," ministry sources said.

Terminal 2E was opened last year at a cost of 750 million euros (900 million dollars), and was handling around 20,000 passengers a day. The departure area consists of a 650-metre tubular building, a 3O-metre (100-foot) section of which fell away in the collapse.

The authorities had said originally the whole building might have to be demolished if investigations showed that a design fault was the origin of the disaster.

What, no mouting plate?
No reinforcement node at the bearing point?

I'll try and find photos of the struts.

None here, unless it's that foyer framework on the left.

July 9th, 2004, 05:21 PM
^This shows what I guess are the culprit struts.

July 12th, 2004, 08:48 AM
July 11, 2004

Form Follows Inspiration

LONDON — Recent events have played into the hands of those who believe that architecture has lost its way and become — in some cases fatally — too fancy for its own good. Last week's report on the collapse in May of the Paul Andreu-designed terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris, which killed four people, came amid the sudden critical scrutiny of and public scandals over Mr. Andreu's opera house under construction in Beijing. There were the problems with Santiago Calatrava's roof for the Olympic Stadium in Athens, which threatened the very opening of the games. The Whitney Museum of American Art dismissed Rem Koolhaas's plans for its extended galleries on the grounds that they were too bold and expensive. And in the squabble over ground zero, the only thing the competing designers seem to agree on is the need to build a Freedom Tower vastly taller than most New Yorkers would feel safe living and working in.

These setbacks and controversies have allowed sober-minded skeptics to accuse the profession of abandoning its original purpose — holding up a roof and keeping out the weather — in favor of reckless and phantasmagorical aesthetic effects, best exemplified by the wavy titanium surfaces of Frank Gehry's Bilbao Guggenheim or the angled walls of Mr. Koolhaas's new Central Library in Seattle. Thus the fate of Mr. Andreu's "prestige" airport terminal seems a most old-fashioned and (for some) grimly satisfying morality tale: how pretension can win out over common sense; how those who look at the stars can end up falling in the ditch.

The skeptics are certainly right in one regard: the last decade has witnessed a sharp rise in the number of buildings whose design seems motivated not primarily by any functional goal but by a desire to enhance the status of the cities or countries that have commissioned them. But to imply that this strays from architecture's historical goals is to deny history.

More than 150 years ago in "The Stones of Venice," John Ruskin remarked that architecture had two missions: to provide shelter on the one hand, to glorify on the other. And it's this second task that the new libraries, museums, airports and town halls appear to have taken up with gusto. With the help of rare materials and complex new technologies, these buildings have helped to flatter and idealize their often hitherto neglected environments. Their appearance speaks to us of modernity and intelligence, of elegance and luxury.

Yet because we live in a practical and literal age, we are liable to be suspicious of the grand claims of new buildings. We tend to believe that works of art should avoid idealizing anyone or anything. They should instead reflect and accommodate reality: buildings should speak of people as they really are, rather than as they hope to be. But this is a fairly recent idea, the language of the form-follows-function modernism of the mid-20th century. Rather, the new high-status buildings have tradition on their side.

Architects have long thought themselves to be in the business of glorification — think of how one's eyes are directed skyward in the Pantheon in Rome, of the soaring spires and stained glass of Gothic cathedrals. This tradition endured, and even profited by, the Renaissance and Enlightenment. The grand 16th-century houses of Palladio and his British and American followers were clearly designed to make a case for their owners' best sides.

One typical example: In 1764, the great British designer Robert Adam was approached by Lord Mansfield, Britain's chief justice, to remodel his house, Kenwood. It emerged as an idealized embodiment of all the virtues that the highest legal authority of a country might wish to possess. The ornate ceiling of the library depicted "Hercules Between Glory and the Passions," "Justice Embracing Peace, Commerce and Navigation" (it looks like a much-longed-for reunion) and portraits of Religion, Jurisprudence, Mathematics and Philosophy.

Our eyes tend to glaze over when we are directed to look up to a ceiling with allegorical representations. We are not only bored and wearied but, more important, we may find something offensive about having to admire the virtues of aristocrats — or of cities or nations. We have trouble ridding our minds of an awareness of how often reality departs from what is presented on the walls.

Yet, contrary to popular supposition, the architects who built in a grand, idealizing fashion were not naïve about human nature. They knew that most of those who used their buildings would not be as kind or good as the architecture implied. Rather, the buildings embodied an aspiration, they were intended as a goad to virtue. They were a kind of propaganda.

It's common to make a severe distinction between art (good) and propaganda (very bad). Whereas art doesn't try to sell us anything or inspire us to perform any particular activities, propaganda is given over to whipping us up to admire tyrants or exhorting us to produce more for the motherland. But it might be worth redrawing our feelings on the subject by remembering that, in the literal sense, the word propaganda refers only to the promotion of a set of beliefs. That many beliefs have historically been associated with political ideologies or commercial preferences of the more unpleasant kind is more an accident of history than anything intrinsic to the word propaganda itself. There is nothing about a work of propaganda, per se, that means it must direct us toward the support of a corrupt monarch or deceitful corporation. All an object must do to count as propaganda is to use its technical resources to direct us toward something — to enhance our sensitivity and readiness to respond favorably toward any idea, vision of life, person, belief and so on.

Defined in this way, a lot more things suddenly seem as if they deserve to be seen as propaganda, including a museum or an airport. A building can exhort the user to imitate and participate in the qualities implicit in its form. The advantage of calling a building a piece of propaganda is that it helps us to focus on the more directive side of all works of art. It makes us see that every consciously created object is trying to tell us something. Furthermore, it shows that there may be nothing particularly wrong with an attempt to direct our behavior and spirit, so long as the direction is a valuable one.

To defend many works of recent architecture, one could therefore argue that they are rather nobly trying to change the way we perceive certain places and cities and forms of travel. They are attempting to present a glorified image of Bilbao or Seattle or Athens — an image that places the stress on all the most attractive sides of these places. Even if we don't always approve of their appearance, we should at least be sympathetic to the ambitions behind their constructions. They represent attempts to lend dignity to their surroundings, and that — assuming the ceiling doesn't cave in — may be one of the most serious and traditional functions of architecture.

Alain de Botton is the author of "The Consolations of Philosophy" and, most recently, "Status Anxiety."

Copyright 2004*The New York Times Company

July 12th, 2004, 08:57 AM
Decision is expected in Air Canada lawsuit
Monday, July 12, 2004

PARIS- A lawsuit filed by Air Canada after it was forced to leave its regular terminal at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport is expected to be decided by a French court Monday.

Air Canada was ordered out of Terminal 2A temporarily to make room for Air France, whose long-haul flights have been badly disrupted since the May 23 collapse of part of the roof at Terminal 2E, an ultra-modern facility completed less than a year ago.

Air Canada has said its move to Terminal 1 was "unacceptable," especially as the switch had been supposed to last only three days but now was expected to continue at least until the end of September.

The director of Air Canada's French operations, Thierry Baux, has told journalists that the airline had invested E2 million, or $2.2 million, to help renovate terminal 2A.

The target of the lawsuit, Aéroports de Paris, has refused to comment on the case.

December 16th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Final report near on collapse at airport
By Nicola Clark International Herald Tribune
Monday, December 13, 2004

PARIS The French government will publish a definitive report in February on what caused the partial collapse of a passenger terminal building at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport last May, according to the country's transport minister, Gilles de Robien.

A preliminary report in July indicated that the accident at Terminal 2E, which killed four travelers, was most likely the result of a weakening of part of the terminal's curved concrete shell. Robien said Friday that while the initial report found evidence that concrete in parts of a 30-meter, or 100-foot, section of the building had deteriorated, "it did not determine responsibility," Agence France-Presse reported. The report will contain the ministry's conclusions as to the exact cause of the accident, Robien said.

The July report, written by an investigative panel headed by Jean Berthier, a professor at the Paris-based École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, was able to rule out some early theories about what caused the collapse, but it did not reach a conclusion as to whether the building's failure was the result of a design flaw or poor workmanship.

Terminal 2E's distinctive roof, made of latticed concrete, glass and steel, was designed by Paul Andreu, the former chief architect for Aéroports de Paris, the airport's state-owned operator. Andreu and others are subjects of a separate criminal investigation into the accident and could face charges if the building's daring design is ultimately found to be at least partially to blame.

Robien's remarks came during a visit Friday by Transport Ministry officials to a €10 million, or $13.2 million, temporary departure lounge that the airport constructed alongside the main Terminal 2E building. The new 5,700-square meter, or 61,000-square foot, structure will be tested this week and is expected to open to the public next Monday, ADP said in a statement. The structure, which took six months to erect, will initially include six departure gates and is expected to serve about 1.7 million passengers per year, ADP said.

February 7th, 2005, 06:16 PM
Errors Found in Paris Airport Accident

By Associated Press
February 7, 2005, 11:27 AM EST

PARIS -- A government-appointed board of inquiry investigating the partial collapse of a Paris airport terminal found serious errors in construction, including concrete that had not been sufficiently reinforced, a newspaper reported Monday.
But the government's Transport Ministry said the inquiry and its report were not completed and indicated the conclusions published by the daily Le Parisien were "totally premature."
The newspaper said that after nine months of work, the inquiry commission found "several serious errors in the conception" of the futuristic Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle airport. Specifically, it said concrete used in the construction had not been sufficiently reinforced.
Airports of Paris, the company that operates the major airports in the capital, said it had not received a copy of the report and had no other comment.
Falling glass, steel and masonry killed four travelers -- two Chinese, one Czech and one Lebanese -- and injured three others on May 23 when a roof collapsed in the departure hall.
A preliminary report by experts released in July said that a weakness in the concrete that formed the terminal's vaulted roof may have contributed to the collapse.

Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press

February 15th, 2005, 08:13 PM
Cold cracked airport roof before collapse

Jean Berthier, President of the commission which
is studying the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport accident
speaks at a press conference in Paris.

Tue Feb 15, 2005 7:23 PM GMT
By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) - A terminal at France's main international airport was weakened by a sharp drop in temperature and cracked before part of it collapsed last year, killing four people, an official report has found.

Jean Berthier, head of an independent commission investigating the accident, said on Tuesday he believed the futuristic terminal could be saved but Paris airports operator Aeroports de Paris (ADP) had not yet decided on its future.

The four victims died when part of the domed roof of terminal 2E came crashing down at Charles de Gaulle airport on May 23 last year, little more than two years after it was built.

Berthier said cold temperatures were a significant factor in the accident, but the quality of materials was not in question.

"The shell was cracked before it collapsed," he told a news conference. "This very complex building in the end was very sensitive to daily changes in temperature."

"The interior concrete shell is air-conditioned, so its temperature varies very little, but the stirrups which support it from the outside have significant temperature swings," he added.

He said it had been 4.1 degrees Celsius on the morning of the collapse, the coldest temperature of the month.

Temperature changes caused the building's outer shell to shift by one or two centimetres twice a day, he said.

"These efforts wore down the concrete, which progressively weakened," said Berthier.


The terminal, used mainly by national carrier Air France, has only partially reopened. A permanent closure of the terminal would be a big blow to the finances and image of ADP as it prepares for partial privatisation.

"Any structure can be saved," said Berthier. "ADP will compare the price of reconstruction and the price of repair. Then the president of ADP will decide."

ADP said in a statement it would decide in mid-April whether to opt for a partial or total reconstruction of the terminal.

"Aeroports de Paris will now study the full report, as soon as it obtains it, and will compare it to the results of its own investigations which have been conducted with external consultancies," it said.

"These investigations are at the disposal of the judicial enquiry. Only the conclusions of the judicial probe will be able to determine responsibilities," it added.

The French government said last week it planned to press ahead with its plan to sell shares in ADP, which helped build the terminal at a cost of 750 million euros. It is designed to handle 10 million passengers a year.

Eiffage's Eiffel unit put up the glass and aluminium casing of the concrete structure at the terminal while Vinci's GTM unit helped build part of a passageway that collapsed under the roof.

The initial findings of the investigating commission, released last July, were that weaknesses in the concrete used for the terminal was the main cause of the collapse.

The report did not aim to blame anyone for the accident and did not propose indicting anyone.

February 16th, 2005, 01:59 PM
Report Cites Design and Structural Faults as Cause of Paris Airport Collapse

Insurance Journal
February 16, 2005

Both structural and design faults caused a large section of the newly constructed Terminal 2E at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport to collapse last May, killing 4 people and injuring 3.

An investigative commission under the direction of Jean Berthier, engineering Professor at France's Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chausées, concluded that the building's structure had been fragile from the outset. It then progressively degraded under use - principally from the side walkways - to the point where the structure gave way.

Berthier's report pointed to four connected causes: 1) insufficient or badly positioned structural steel; 2) lack of mechanical "redundancy," in that the stresses were concentrated and could not be shifted to other structural components; 3) concrete beams that offered too little resistance to stress and use, and 4) the positioning of metal supports within the structural concrete.

Payments will eventually be made by the various insurance companies who underwrote the structure, but the report doesn't reach the question of who pays and how much. Although parts of the structure have been reopened, its use is still restricted. A distinct possibility remains that the entire building, which cost 750 million euros ($975 million), will have to be torn down if similar deficiencies are found throughout the entire structure.

As reported shortly after the collapse in Les Echos, the French financial daily newspaper, more than 400 firms were involved in the construction, and sorting out any direct links to the collapse will be a difficult process. Les Echos posited that, if a construction fault was found, it would fall under the construction insurance policy or PUC (police unique chantier). The policy covers events linked to any firm that participated in the construction for 10 years from completion.

It also assures rapid payment to the owner of the terminal - the Paris Airport Authority (ADP). The ADP itself may be limited in its recovery, however, as it is both the owner and the manager of the terminal building, and it directly employed the designer.

The coverage was placed through the broker Gras Savoye. AXA Corporate Solutions was the lead carrier with around 60 percent of the risk, followed by GAN, a division of France's Groupama, with around 40 percent. According to the reports reinsurance was placed with Swiss Re, Munich Re, France's SCOR Group and General Re.
AXA has said only that its exposure would not exceed 10 million euros ($1.3 million). GAN has said that it cannot estimate the amount of the loss, while SCOR indicated that it would have no significant impact on the reinsurer's results.

April 7th, 2005, 01:29 PM
Collapsed roof of Paris airport to be razed

PARIS, March 17 (AFP) - The entire roof of the departure area of Terminal 2E at Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport - scene of a fatal collapse last May - is to be demolished and rebuilt, the Paris airports authority ADP announced Thursday.

The terminal - which cost EUR 750 million (USD 1 billion) and was open for less than a year - should be operating normally by the end of 2007, ADP said.

"On the basis of internal and external studies, Aeroports de Paris has chosen the solution of rebuilding the roof," the company said in a statement.

"This solution makes it possible to conserve all the lower parts of the building which do not present any problem," it said.

Four people died and three were injured on May 23 when a 30-metre(100-foot) section of the curving roof of the 650-metre departure lounge collapsed.

ADP president Pierre Graff submitted the roof demolition proposal to the company's board Thursday morning, the statement said.

"ADP will carry out studies to finalise the reconstruction solution that has been adopted and which will permit a total re-opening of Terminal 2E for the winter season of 2007-2008," the statement said.

In an interview with AFP Graff said the cost of the work would be around EUR 100 million.

"There was one single criterion: the safety of staff and passengers. Several so-called repair solutions were studied but we threw them out because they did not offer a total and unambiguous guarantee in the matter of safety.

Everyone understands there is no question of taking the smallest risk," Graff said.

The decision to replace the roof of the building should not affect the timetable for the part-privatisation of ADP which is due at the end of 2005 or beginning of 2006, Graff said.

Last month a technical enquiry found that structural weaknesses were to blame for the roof collapse. A magistrate is to determine whether individuals or companies should be placed under judicial investigation for "involuntary homicide."

Terminal 2E was designed by internationally-renowned architect Paul Andreu, who has rejected any suggestion that his plans were at fault.

Shaped like a long tube with no internal supporting structures, the departure area was built in a series of interlocking concrete rings. The curving roof was perforated with square spaces to let in the light and covered with a glass outer shell.

The report found that the concrete suffered from "insufficient or badly positioned reinforcement," and that there was a lack of "redundancy" - in other words the possibility of transferring stress to other parts of the structure.

The terminal has returned to full capacity with a hastily-built temporary departure lounge.

An ADP spokesman Thursday denied suggestions that the two-and-a-half year delay before the original departure area is functioning again would effect the introduction of the Airbus A380 superjumbo, for which the terminal was conceived.

"There is plenty of other space for the superjumbo at Charles de Gaulle," he said.


April 7th, 2005, 01:33 PM
Some nice photos (http://www.kirikou.com/tuttifrutti/cdg2e/cdg2e.htm)

April 7th, 2005, 02:47 PM
Errors Found in Paris Airport Accident

By Associated Press
February 7, 2005, 11:27 AM EST

PARIS -- A government-appointed board of inquiry investigating the partial collapse of a Paris airport terminal found serious errors in construction, including concrete that had not been sufficiently reinforced, a newspaper reported Monday. [/size]


My bet is shear failure at the base support of the archway. It looks like it snapped clean and came through.

That is usually a sign of insufficient reinforcement.

April 7th, 2005, 02:52 PM
I can also see where temperature might have something to do with it.

But seriously, if it was designed right, a span that long should not have that much of a problem with temperature differences.

Maybe the supporting steel was too continuous? that it spaned the entire distance? A cold morning would shrink the steel, pulling whatever was attached to it in, this may have cracked the underside supports enough to make it lose any shear-friction and cause the top to just snap off the sides and come down.

Without some pictures/plans, it is hard to tell......