Frick Building Cornice Failure Emergency Response



Winning Team

Steven Bentz (Washington, D.C.)
Jason Siwek (Washington, D.C.)
Tommy Dacanay (Washington, D.C.)
Spencer Livermore (Dallas)
Scott Kinney (Washington, D.C.)
Armando Gomez-Farias (Dallas)
Domingo Moran (Houston)
Hakim Bouadi (Houston)

Frick Building Cornice Failure Emergency Response


The Frick Building is one of the most distinctive and recognizable features of Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Standing at 330 feet tall, the 20-story office building was the tallest in the city in 1901. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the early morning of July 30, 2017, a 1,500-pound piece of granite dislodged from the cornice of the historic building and fell 20 stories before crashing onto Grant Street below. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, but for public safety concerns, Grant Street was closed indefinitely. Within hours, Walter P Moore had a representative onsite to consult with the owner, attorneys, insurance representatives, city officials, and law enforcement.

Walter P Moore was retained as the professional engineer to provide specialized expertise related to falling object velocities, fragmentation of debris, and impact studies to determine the appropriate temporary wall thickness, stand-off distance, and reinforcement. Additionally, the team utilized specialized software available through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for blast and impact analysis to develop our design. The work was provided on an expedited schedule to quickly respond to the clients’ needs.

Our Challenging Access Team (CAT) mobilized personnel from different offices within a week of being notified to conduct an on-site visual assessment of the building by rope access. Walter P Moore oversaw selective deconstruction of the cornice to identify possible causes of failure, provided a full structural analysis, and developed repair documents for the cornice steel in question.

As a result of our quick and efficient response, the street was only closed for three weeks while assessments and repairs were made.