For the record, there has never been a catastrophic failure by overturning of a high rise building. With the possible exception of the WTC towers on 9/11, no skyscraper has ever fallen over in an uncontrolled manner.
But there could always be a first time.
Enter the Millennium Tower in San Francisco.
Opened in 2009, the 58-story condo tower has sunk nearly a foot, and actually leaning 6 inches off plumb at the top.
Engineers are mixed on the exact amount the building has settled, but it is hard to argue with gravity. Take a look at one condo owner’s experiment with marbles:
According to the Associated Press:
The tower’s troubles are apparent in its five-floor underground garage, where Porsches and Lamborghinis sit near walls bearing floor-to-ceiling cracks, many bracketed by stress gauges to measure growth.
This is shaping up to be the exact plot of the 1984 novel “Skyscraper” by Robert Byrne. It’s a fun (and naively pre-War on Terror) account of an overly-ambitious real estate tycoon who builds a shoddily-constructed highrise and tries to escape as it collapses around him. The hero of the story is a plucky civil engineer who tries to raise the alarm at the last minute. It’s my kind of story for sure, but a little far-fetched.
Dodson and other residents blame developers for what they say is a flawed design. The tower’s foundation, for instance, uses piles driven 60 to 90 feet into landfill, rather than the pricier option of going down at least 240 feet to bedrock.