Henry Petroski is one of Tim Harford's favourite fellow nerds. His study of engineering failures has profoundly influenced Tim's own writing, including the classic Cautionary Tales episode Death on the Dance Floor.
Petroski passed away in June 2023, at the age of 81. This week, in honour of the late great engineer, Tim looks back at the catastrophic Kansas City Hyatt Regency disaster of 1981. The hotel's space-age sky walks -- 60 tonnes of glass, concrete and steel -- crashed down onto the heads of revellers in the atrium below. 114 people died. What was to blame?
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