As the investigation into this week’s catastrophic partial collapse at 1915 Billingsley Terrace in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx continues, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner James Oddo today announced that the city has suspended the associated engineer’s authority to inspect exterior walls of buildings to assess their condition while seeking to permanently revoke that authority through the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. In plans filed with DOB in June 2023, the New York State licensed professional engineer misdiagnosed a load-bearing column in the partially-collapsed building as decorative. The city is also working collaboratively with the New York City Department of Investigation and the Office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, which are investigating.
“There are over a million buildings across our city, and it is crucial that New Yorkers are safe in every one of those buildings. But when those who are entrusted to keep us safe cut corners and make catastrophic mistakes, we are going to take swift action and hold them accountable,” said Mayor Adams. “The licensing and certification process for professional engineers is crucial to ensuring New Yorkers can continue to be and feel safe as they enter any building across the city. Our initial investigation into this collapse has made clear that the engineer involved has no business assessing the exterior walls of buildings in New York City, and we are taking action to suspend his ability to do so. We are working with both the DOI and Bronx DA Clark as their investigation continues. We’ll continue to work with everyone impacted by this collapse to help them get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”
“While we continue our investigation alongside the Department of Investigation and the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, it is our moral and civic duty to immediately suspend this engineer’s designation. The engineer failed to recognize a clearly structural column as such, and he can no longer be out there making assessments of the structural integrity of exterior walls of New York’s buildings,” said DOB Commissioner Oddo. “As part of the investigation, we are reviewing all of his filings in New York City — a total of 368 Facade Inspection and Safety Program filings in the most recent cycle — and will continue that process until it is complete. We got lucky that no one was killed in this collapse; we will not take that risk again.”
DOB is in the process of expeditiously auditing all of this engineer’s 368 recent Local Law 11 Facade Inspection and Safety Program reports to ensure their accuracy. There are more than 1.1 million buildings in New York City, and over 540 building inspectors. The city relies on registered design professionals who are licensed by New York state to inspect structural and façade conditions and work throughout the five boroughs. Those professionals are required by law to file paperwork with the DOB attesting to the conditions of such structures in order to keep New Yorkers safe. DOB will simultaneously inform the appropriate state oversight body of today’s actions.