How Hurricane Andrew in ‘92 Changed Florida High-Rise Building Codes Forever

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 changed Florida’s high-rise building codes forever. It set the standard for safety and how we build today. After the Category 5 storm ripped through Southern Florida, it had killed 65 people, destroyed 25,524 homes and revealed a toxic trio of poor design, shoddy construction and inadequate inspection.

“Hurricane Andrew revealed loopholes in the building code and exposed the lax enforcement that had been going on for many years,” Bryan Norcross, a TV meteorologist that talked the region through the disaster and became a local hero, told The Washington Post in a 2017 interview.

Hurricane Andrew and Florida Building Codes

Hurricane Andrew forced a change in Florida high-rise building codes that established the toughest storm-specific building codes in the United States, if not the world, all of which The Ronto Group strictly follows.

In addition to following the Florida high-rise building codes, The Ronto Group also commissions wind tunnel tests on all of its high-rises, including Omega, to determine wind loading characteristics.

The wind tunnel test is conducted in conjunction with Tampa-based B&W Structural Designs Inc. at CPP Inc. in Fort Collins, Colorado. Founded in 1999, B&W Structural Designs is a structural engineering consulting firm that provides services throughout the United States, Saudi Arabia, Honduras and Puerto Rico. CPP was the first U.S. company to provide wind engineering services to architects and engineers. CPP founders Jack Cermak and John Peterka are the acknowledged pioneers in the wind tunnel testing field and made their mark in the industry by conducting tests during the engineering of the original World Trade Center towers in New York City.

As CPP notes, wind interacts with buildings and structures in complex and often surprising ways. A building’s geometry, the surrounding terrain, nearby buildings and structures and seasonal wind conditions all influence the way wind will interact with a building. Wind considerations are especially important for cladding and structural design. These are the services commonly thought of as wind engineering.

Wind loading codes are designed for simply shaped buildings and do not account for the effects of terrain or nearby buildings. Wind tunnel testing offers specific, customized information about a particular building or structure, making it a key tool for efficient design. Wind tunnel testing can identify the areas where resilience and reliability can be increased and allowed Ronto to allocate its resources accordingly on Omega.

The ultimate objective of the wind tunnel test is to obtain data that will support the construction of an efficient, safe and reliable building. The results of the test enabled Ronto and B&W to design the Bonita Bay tower to an ultimate load of a 700-year storm recurrence.

Omega is a new 27-floor high-rise tower being built by the award-winning developer, The Ronto Group, within Bonita Bay. Designed by Robert M. Swedroe, the clean-lined, modern looking tower will feature 67 residences, including 63 spacious tower residences and four penthouses.

Visit the Omega Sales Center at 26951 Country Club Drive within Bonita Bay from Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Call 239-301-4940 for a sales appointment and visit for more information.