Top priority must be placed on safety

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Top priority must be placed on safety

The Lotte World II Hotel under construction at Jamsil, southeast of Seoul, raises suspicion that the construction has been underway without appropriate measures to mend potentially dangerous fissures in its megashaft. The magashaft - ten times larger than ordinary columns - are the pillars of the 123-storied supertall skyscraper to sustain the immense weight pressure of the mammoth structure. The alleged safety problem with Korea’s highest building raises loud alarms for the future of our construction industry.

In October last year, a construction inspection company discovered some fissures in the huge pillar and came up with a conclusion that it’s about serious cracks that demand a precision diagnosis. But the construction has continued after an outside company only did a visual inspection on the cracks.

Construction experts say that cracks in a concrete structure originate from complicated reasons and that there are many cracks which do not cause safety problems at all. Yet they agreed that any problems with megashafts - a povital structure for a mammoth building - should not be dealt with lightly because they support the entire weight of a huge building.

A professor of architecture, surnamed Lee, has sent us an email in which he said that based on the picture of the problem, there is the possibility that the problem may stem from the quality of steel used in welding and in that case, it could pose a serious safety problem. Another professor specializing in construction of super highrises concurred with him by arguing that cracks in megashafts cannot be fixed by visual inspection alone and the safety inspection should be put in the hands of seasoned construction companies and people who have abundant experiences of building super-high structures. Another expert also underscored that traditional generosity toward each other based on personal or business connections should be rooted out given the fact that we relatively lack in experiences with constructing supertall skyscrapers.

After a spate of media reports on the suspicion, officials of Lotte Group said that they will resume the construction after first ensuring safety through a precise inspection of the problem. The Lotte World II Hotel is not only a building for sale to customers but also carries a monumental significance as the tallest building in the country. Although a pressure to keep the deadline for the construction will increasingly build for the company, it will give more trouble to the company unless it clears all the suspicions. The top priority must be placed on safety.

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