Berkeley balconies not constructed to hold large numbers, says preservation expert

Six Irish students died after Library Gardens apartment balcony collapsed

A fourth floor balcony rests on the balcony below after collapsing at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, California killing six Irish students. Photograph: AP Photo/Noah Berger

A fourth floor balcony rests on the balcony below after collapsing at the Library Gardens apartment complex in Berkeley, California killing six Irish students. Photograph: AP Photo/Noah Berger

 

Carrie Olson, a preservation expert who was a member of the City of Berkeley Design Review Committee for 14 years, recalls it assessing the Library Gardens building where the accident happened when it came up for municipal approval.

Ms Olsen told The Irish Times the balconies were not constructed to hold large numbers of people.

She was speaking after balcony on the fourth floor at the Library Gardens building collapsed, killing six Irish students and seriously injuring seven others.

The balcony that collapsed was on the fourth floor of the five storey building.

Kittredge building inspection report

Her committee was not the deciding body when it came to planning and building, she said, but rather concerted itself with appearances in terms of design and layout of floor plans.

The Library Gardens building was next to the city’s main library, opposite a substantial high school and within walking distance of Berkeley University and is attractive to students.

City of Berkeley safety inspectors have reacted to the deaths by banning access to all remaining balconies in the Library Gardens complex.

It was not clear from photographs of the collapsed balcony how the balustrade of the balcony was attached to the facade.

The Irish Times has submitted several queries relating to the safety permits issued by the city’s Planning and Development Department, to Matthai Chakko, public affairs officer attached to the city mayor’s office and replies are awaited.

A one bed apartment in Berkeley would typically rent for between $3,000 and $3,500 per month (€2,670 to €3,200 per month).