On Thursday, July 16, NBC 4 New York reported that a scaffold on a residential building in Manhattan’s Murray Hill neighborhood collapsed onto a sidewalk shed below, killing one worker and seriously injuring three others. All four men were engaged in facade restoration at the building at the time of the incident.
According to reports, the 12-story co-op building at 136 East 36th Street had been undergoing facade maintenance to its upper floors before the coronavirus-related shutdown. NBC 4 spoke to a resident of the building who said that removal of equipment from the roof was taking place when the collapse occurred.
Reports and footage from the scene indicate that a chunk of masonry dislodged from the top of the building, crashing into the scaffolding that then destroyed the bridging and littered the sidewalk below with debris. (In response to an email request for follow-up, the DOB informs The Cooperator that the damaged sidewalk shed has since been fully repaired and is safe for pedestrians.)
The incident happened just hours after another building collapse in the same neighborhood.
According to the NBC 4 report, the other building - a vacant property at 211 East 34th Street, about two blocks from the deadly facade collapse - had experienced not one, but two collapses earlier the same day. First, FDNY responded to a reported collapse on the top floor of the four-story building. Then, a few hours later, FDNY confirmed a secondary collapse. All surrounding buildings were evacuated and there were no reported injuries.
Just a week prior, on July 8, a third Murray Hill building partially collapsed. CBS2 News reported at the time that a 45-foot by 10-foot chunk of parapet fell from a vacant five-story parking garage at 205 East 38th Street, injuring a man who was inside his car parked in front of the building. A witness described the incident as having started “with just a few bricks, before quickly becoming an avalanche,” according CBS.
A Troubling Pattern
Just two days before the fatal facade collapse in Murray Hill, another residence in Brooklyn suffered a partial collapse. NBC 4 reported that an entire exterior wall of 282 17th Street in Park Slope came down on July 14, prompting several evacuations and a DOB investigation.
Footage from NBC News shows that the entire right side of the two-story home collapsed, covering a neighboring alleyway with building debris. There were no reported injuries, but multiple families have been displaced while the investigation proceeds, according to the outlet.
These incidents are part of an alarming series. Earlier in July, Gothamist reported on the near-total structural collapse of a building in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn that housed a Body Elite Gym. Union & Court Realty Corp, the owners of the three-story building at 348 Court Street, had been cited multiple times in recent years for DOB violations and unsafe conditions.
City Council member Brad Lander informed the outlet that a person had been inside the building just before it collapsed, but was able to get out before the whole thing came down. That individual suffered minor injuries that were treated at the scene. Thankfully, the gym had been closed to patrons prior to and at the time of the collapse due to the COVID-19 shutdown.