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Milwaukee County Façade Inspections

In June 2010, a precast concrete panel fell off a County-owned parking structure, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. The Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) was directed to conduct a thorough inspection of all County-owned buildings where similar façade elements could pose a danger. Due to the scale and urgency of the assignment, the DTPW sought help carrying out the inspections.

GRAEF was retained to manage the inspection program. Help was solicited from numerous local engineering and architectural firms. Overall, 11 firms and 25 people with building façade evaluation expertise were brought on to the team.

Working closely with Milwaukee County DTPW, GRAEF developed a procedure for inspection of the buildings and format for the individual inspection reports. Two-person teams were assigned a group of buildings to inspect. The level of inspection effort was adjusted on a building-by-building basis and depended on the condition of the façade and the severity that the hazard posed to public safety.

Immediate hazards were blocked off until the hazard could be removed or the condition stabilized. A total of 16 potentially hazardous conditions were identified. Every potential hazard was resolved by more detailed investigations or repair work. Two buildings required a significant amount of work to remove potential hazards.

Once the inspections were completed, the inspection teams were responsible for preparing an inspection report for each building. The reports summarized the results of the inspections and provided recommendations for repairs.

Cost estimates and recommended schedules for repair work identified were included.

The reports were reviewed for quality and content by a separate team of experienced professionals. The Q/C reviews in some cases resulted in additional inspection work or report clarifications.

Once the inspections and reports were completed, GRAEF sponsored a seminar attended by various maintenance staff from Milwaukee County as well as inspection team members. The seminar covered the various types of deterioration and techniques for finding and identifying it. Experts provided recommendations for building maintenance, early detection, and correction of deficiencies before they become major maintenance problems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the work and high public awareness of the potential safety issues, Milwaukee County requested daily briefings on the progress of the inspections. Additionally, a weekly meeting was held to review work completed and work scheduled. Hazards identified were monitored on a daily basis until eliminated.

Inspection work began in early July and reports were completed and submitted to the department by late September 2010.

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Project Data

106 Buildings – Single-Story Park Buildings to Large Multi-Story Facilities


GRAEF Services

Project Management/Reporting
Structural Engineering
Building Evaluations
Façade Evaluations

Milwaukee County Façade Inspections Contact

Steve Rech

Steve Rech

Director of Structural Engineering