Mid-Rise Hotel - Southeast U.S.

A hotel guest accidentally broke through a guest room window and fell 10 floors to her death at a mid-rise hotel in the Southeast built in the early 1970s. The hotel construction included floor-­to-ceiling window systems between the floor slabs and columns. The glazing for the windows incorporated ordinary annealed glass rather than stronger safety glazing. The hotel had been renovated shortly before the accident. During the renovation various inspections of the guest rooms and exterior were made and no significant deviations from building code requirements were reported related to the guest room windows. Based on information reviewed by Liberty, no code violations were identified and safety glazing was not required for the specific lite of glass associated with the accident given the dimensions and configuration of the window system. Neverthe­less, the accident raises questions regarding the adequacy of the current building code and warrants review of the code by industry representatives and building officials as well as consideration by facility owners of potential obligations to modify or replace similar window systems to reduce the possibility of such accidents.