New York Coliseum

At the New York Coliseum in 1955 (McKaig 1962, Kaminetzky 1991) about 10,000 square feet of main exhibition hall collapsed during construction, killing one worker and injuring fifty others.  The forms were two stories high, supported on 11-foot four-by-four timbers linked together by a cross beam at mid-height.  The crossbeams did not provide bracing against lateral instability.  Buggies were used to transport the concrete for the slab being poured, and eight buggies were on the formwork at the time of the collapse.  According to the district attorney’s office, the cause of failure was inadequate provisions in the formwork to resist lateral forces (p. 16, McKaig, 1962).  Without proper bracing, the structure became unstable under the dynamic loading of the buggies.  Formwork designs that had been safe before the use of buggies proved unsafe under the heavier loads.  McKaig (1962) also discusses fourteen other formwork failures.


  • Kaminetzky, D. (1991). Design and Construction Failures: Lessons from Forensic Investigations. McGraw-Hill, New York, N. Y.
  • McKaig, T. (1962). Building Failures: Case Studies in Construction and Design.  McGraw-Hill, New York, N. Y.