American Society of Civil Engineers

The Engineer of Record and Design Responsibility

by Jack D. Gillum, P.E., (Adjunct Professor, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Washington Univ., St. Louis, MO 63130)

Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, Vol. 14, No. 2, May 2000, pp. 67-70, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: For nineteen years since the tragic collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Hotel’s walkway on July 17, 1981, the engineering profession and construction industry has studied and endeavored to understand what happened, why it happened, who was at fault, what should have been done to prevent it, and how the engineering and construction industry can guard against future structural collapses. This paper, by the Structural Engineer of Record, addresses the events during and subsequent to the design, bidding, and construction of the walkway and the investigation that followed the collapse. It discusses the tragedy, its continuing impact on the public and the standard of the professional practice of engineering, and the two fundamental issues: (1) What is the role and responsibility of the Engineer of Record? and (2) Can design responsibility be delegated in today’s construction market?

ASCE Subject Headings:
Failure investigations
Professional role