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“House of Cards”

Excellence in Local/Regional Investigative Reporting

Miami Herald, 2022

Author(s): Staff | Miami Herald


“House of Cards,” a cascade of richly reported stories, delves into the negligence that resulted in the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla.

Over the course of its investigation, the Miami Herald team uncovered the dubious track record of Champlain Tower South’s developers, the concerning history of mistakes from one Champlain engineer and architect, the revolving carousel of general contractors tasked with building the tower and the glaring design flaws that doomed the tower to collapse.

Using the accounts of 10 survivors, call logs and the limited visual record of the collapse, reporters produced a precise timeline and plausible theory for where the collapse started and how it spread. A representative of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the official government agency investigating the collapse, praised the investigation.

The Miami Herald team used building plans and Google Earth as reference to create a 3D image of the building. This provided the basis for each illustrated explanation of what happened, how witnesses saw the collapse and how flaws in the original design and construction could have contributed to the tragedy in which 98 residents lost their lives.

The painstaking attention to detail sets “House of Cards” apart. Engineers reviewed every piece of the project. The team used cutting-edge, peer reviewed techniques to simulate the conditions of the structure both as it was designed and as it fell. The work covering the collapse of Champlain Towers South effectively demonstrated not only what happened, but why.