Hartford Civic Center Arena

At 4:19 am on January 18,1978 downtown Hartford narrowly missed being the site of one of the deadliest disasters inĀ  American History when the entire roof of the Hartford Civic Center Arena-covering an area of nearly 2.5 acres and weighing 1,400 tons-suddenly collapsed onto a colliseum of 10,000 empty seats. Thanks to a series of incredible coincidences, there were no injuries associated with the roof’s catastrophic failure. Only six hours before, nearly 5,000 college basketball fans were sitting under the same roof to watch the UConn Huskies beat the UMass Minutemen by a score of 56 to 49.Even more miraculously, the overnight crews that typically performed maintenance on the arena’s hockey rink were absent that night, due to an unusual scheduling fluke that left Hartford’s home hockey team playing several away games in a row. Only two staff members were on the premisis at the time of the collapse, neither of them near the coliseum where the roof caved in on itself.

During construction in 1974, architects touted the innovative “space truss” design of the Civic Center’s roof, which was one of the first major architectural projects in the region to be drafted with computer-aided design. The roof design was supposed to support more weight using fewer and less expensive materials, saving the city several hundred thousand dollars in construction costs. However, after the roof’s catastrophic failure, engineers unanimously agreed that the “space truss” roof design was to blame, due to both inherent flaws in its design and errors in construction by the crews who built it. When construction crews had trouble assembling some structural elements they just forced them to fit, changeing the shape of the element; and did not report the problem to the design engineers. The completed investigation revealed that while several day’s worth of accumulated ice and snow hastened the process, the roof had actually been slowly but steadily failing the moment it was installed.



* which supports and barriers were in play?

* What were the dynamics?

* Who, or what. won the Tug-of-War?

* Discuss the outcome with your friends and family.

* Use Post #4 as a reference for the dynamics, and the relationships, between supports and barriers.