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Mayor Adams Announces Two-Year Suspension for Professional Engineer Following Investigation Into December 2023 Bronx Building Collapse

Major Building Collapse Still Under Active Investigation by DOB, DOI, and Bronx DA

Further Investigation Could Result in Further Enforcement
Against Professional Engineer Richard Koenigsberg

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Jimmy Oddo today announced the signing of an agreement with professional engineer Richard Koenigsberg related to his negligence in inspecting and identifying structural elements of a building located at 1915 Billingsley Terrace, leading up to a partial collapse that occurred in December 2023 in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx. Several days after the collapse, DOB took action to temporarily suspend Koenigsberg’s ability to conduct façade inspections in New York City, pending further enforcement actions.

In the legally binding agreement, Koenigsberg agreed to a voluntary two-year suspension of his ability to conduct façade inspections in New York City under the Local Law 11 Façade Inspection and Safety Program and agreed to pay a $10,000 fine. Parallel investigations into the various factors that may have contributed to the collapse are currently being conducted by DOB, the New York City Department of Investigation, and the Office of the Bronx District Attorney. Additional enforcement actions may be issued to the responsible parties at the building based on these ongoing investigations.

“Public safety is our administration’s top priority, and the signing of today’s agreement should serve as a reminder to all construction professionals about the importance of carrying out their duties professionally, competently, and, most importantly, safely,” said Mayor Adams. “I would like to thank Commissioner Oddo and his team at DOB for their quick and tireless work to hold Mr. Koenigsberg accountable following this incredibly dangerous collapse, and for helping to get the displaced families back into their homes safely.”

“Public safety in our city relies heavily on the competence and expertise of state-licensed private engineers, especially their ability to properly diagnose building conditions. When a private engineer fails to demonstrate this competency, our construction professional disciplinary team will not hesitate to take quick action to curtail their ability to work in our city,” said DOB Commissioner Oddo. “Decisive actions, like the one announced today against Mr. Koenigsberg, send a clear message to the industry that we will not tolerate sloppy work that puts our fellow New Yorkers in danger. Since the collapse occurred, our enforcement team has worked tirelessly — investigating all of the factors that could have contributed to the collapse, completing numerous field inspection sweeps of other properties across the city associated with the responsible parties at this building, and pushing the landlords to make needed repairs to 1915 Billingsley Terrace in an effort to get displaced families back into their homes both safely and as quickly as possible.”

On December 11, 2023, a corner of the occupied apartment building at 1915 Billingsley Terrace suffered a major collapse. Thankfully, this incident did not result in any fatalities or serious injuries. Prior to the collapse, Koenigsberg was acting in the capacity of a professional engineer — contracted by the building owners for required façade inspections and subsequent repairs — where he misdiagnosed a load-bearing column at the northeast corner of the building as non-structural in his engineering drawings. Following the collapse, DOB issued a full vacate order for the entire building in the interest of public safety. Since that time, extensive structural inspections of the building and major repairs performed by the property owners have allowed many of the families to safely move back into the building.

The new agreement requires Koenigsberg to wind down his business over a four-month period, during which he will be allowed to complete any active jobs where he was previously contracted to perform Local Law 11 façade safety inspections. However, resulting façade inspection reports for jobs already underway must undergo peer review approval by a third-party engineering firm prior to being submitted to DOB, where they will then be subject to enhanced scrutiny from senior DOB engineers. Jobs where Koenigsberg has already completed the inspections and already generated façade safety reports will not be required to undergo a peer review but are subject to enhanced scrutiny from DOB engineers.

Additionally, DOB has already completed audits of the 368 façade inspection reports filed by Koenigsberg in 2023 to ensure their accuracy. DOB has informed the New York State Office of the Professions — the appropriate state oversight body for state-licensed engineers — of the findings of its audits as well as shared details about today’s agreement. Finally, DOB is currently reviewing existing agency regulations related to the qualifications of industry professionals who perform Local Law 11 façade inspections in New York City to determine if there are any opportunities to strengthen registration requirements for these private façade inspectors in the interest of public safety.

This agreement was settled in lieu of a formal disciplinary hearing at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

February 22, 2024 New York City Hall Manhattan NY

Source: NYC.govMidtown Tribune news
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