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3 Bolts Fail on London’s New Tower

Thursday, January 15, 2015

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A number of large steel bolts on London’s tallest skyscraper will be replaced, after three bolts have fractured and fell from the building in just over two months, according to its developer.

The third bolt fell off the Leadenhall Building “recently” and was caught by a precautionary tethering system, the developer, British Land, said in a statement issued Wednesday (Jan. 14).

Two other bolts broke off the building in November 2014.

Leadenhall Building
tbmurray / Creative Commons

Three bolts have fallen from the Leadenhall Building in London since November. A probe into the bolt failure has concluded hydrogen embrittlement is to blame.

Still, the developer maintains that the structural integrity of the 734-foot tall building, which opened in September 2014, has not been compromised.

No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. The bolts connect the nodes on the megaframe and were reportedly the size of a human arm.

Cause Determined

The November bolt failures prompted an investigation.

British Land called on contractor Laing O’Rourke and structural engineers Arup to investigate the bolts on the 47-story building, known locally as “The Cheesegrater.”

The investigation concluded that the bolts had fractured due to “a material failure mechanism called Hydrogen Embrittlement,” the developer announced.

construction of Leadenhall building
willrocks10 / Creative Commons

The Leadenhall Building is the tallest structure in the London—at 734 feet. It opened in September after almost three years of construction.

This is a “crack growth mechanism within the bolt material” and is limited to certain bolts, the company added.

However, the developer noted it had launched program to replace a number of bolts as a “precautionary measure.”

The investigation included laboratory testing of the broken bolts as well as site testing of the some 3,000 bolts still affixed to the building.

The ‘Cheesegrater’ Building

Designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the Leadenhall Building is the tallest structure in the city. It opened in September after almost three years of construction.

The tapered glass-clad tower features a slope shape, designed to preserve views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Its shape has inspired the nickname “The Cheesegrater Building.”

The architects recently signed a 15-year lease to occupy the building’s 14th floor, according to the developer.

British Land is one of Europe’s largest publicly-listed real estate companies, owning, managing, developing and financing a portfolio of luxury commercial property.


Tagged categories: Architects; Commercial Construction; Contractors; Developers; Engineers; Europe; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Steel

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