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Brick Facade Crumbles, Injures 4

Monday, March 7, 2016

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Four people were injured and dozens more were evacuated Thursday (March 3) when a portion of a brick facade broke apart from a mural-painted apartment building and crashed onto the roof of another building in Florida.

The facade of the six-story Alexander Lofts building partially collapsed onto the one-story William Price law office that stood next door around 11 a.m. in downtown West Palm Beach, according to various local reports.

The victims were reportedly inside the law office, which sustained extensive damage, officials said. The injuries were minor, according to reports.

Built in the 1926, the Alexander Lofts building once served as the headquarters of the Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company. A six-story mural honoring inventor Alexander Graham Bell adorned the side of the structure where the bricks crumbled. The building is owned by Ram Realty of Palm Beach Gardens.

Cause and Concern

The cause of the collapse appears to be due to aging and rusted metal attachments used to connect the brick facade to the loft building, city engineers told a local CBS affiliate.

The same aging ties are used to attach the facade around the entire building, so officials are concerned about the structural integrity of the other attachments, CBS12 reported.

“There are portions of it that will have to be removed and portions of it that can be shored up by basically punching holes through it and putting sort of an anchor to hold the existing brick up against the existing structure,” Elliot Cohen, spokesman for the City of West Palm Beach, told the television station.

Residents of the warehouse-turned apartment building have been placed in temporary housing while the project is underway, the report said.

“The safety of our residents and pedestrians is our top priority and we are taking all necessary measures,” a spokesman from Alexander Lofts told members of the media.

Additional Investigation

City officials will also reportedly determine whether heavy vibrations from construction work across the street played some role in the partial collapse.

Neighbors told the CBS news outlet that they have felt heavy vibrations for the past month.

Mural to Be Restored

As for the 8,000-square-foot mural that adorned the loft building, it will likely be restored.

Tristan Eaton, the Los Angeles artist who painted the mural, entitled "The Spirit of Communication," told the Sun Sentinel that “we will be fixing the mural once the wall is fixed and it is safe to work on."

   

Tagged categories: Artists; Brick; Building facades; Health and safety; Historic Structures; Murals; Renovation

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