Engineer suspended for two years following investigation of Bronx building collapse

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An aerial view of 1915 Billingsley Terrace following its partial collapse on Dec. 11, 2023.
Photo Dean Moses

Last week, the Mayor’s office and the Department of Buildings reached an agreement to suspend an engineer for two years in connection to a partial collapse of a building in the West Bronx back in December.

On Thursday, Feb. 22, Mayor Eric Adams and Department of Buildings (DOB) Commissioner Jimmy Oddo announced that the city had entered into an agreement with Manhattan-based engineer Richard Koenigsberg, who has agreed to have his license suspended for two years following a DOB investigation pertaining to his negligence while evaluating a six-story building located at 1915 Billingsley Terrace that partially collapsed on Dec. 11.

On that December afternoon, the northeast corner of the Billingsley Terrace structure collapsed after Koenigsberg, who had been acting in the capacity of a professional engineer, mistakenly believed at an earlier date that a load-bearing column was decorative and non-structural in his engineering drawings. Miraculously, the horrific incident did not result in any deaths or serious injuries.

According to the agreement, Koenigsberg will serve a two-year suspension from conducting façade inspections in New York City under the Local Law 11 Façade Inspection and Safety Program. Per the agreement, Koenigsberg will also pay a $10,000 fine and wind down his engineering operations over the next four months. During this time, Koenigsberg will still be allowed to complete any active Local Law 11 façade safety inspections for which he was contracted to perform. However, those inspections must undergo peer review approval by a third-party engineering firm prior to being submitted to DOB, where those reports will be subject to enhanced scrutiny from senior DOB engineers.

“Public safety is our administration’s top priority,” Adams said last week. “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, mostly, importantly, safely.”

The Mayor thanked Oddo and the DOB for their work since the incident and for holding Koenigsberg accountable for his professional shortcomings, which the city says led to the building’s partial collapse.

Since the incident, the DOB has already completed audits of the approximately 368 façade inspection reports filed by Koenigsberg in 2023 in order to ensure their accuracy.

“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,” said Oddo. “Public safety in our city relies heavily on the competence and expertise of state-licensed private engineers and especially their ability to properly diagnose building conditions.”

Oddo added that since the collapse occurred, the DOB’s enforcement team has worked tirelessly — investigating all of the factors that could have contributed to the collapse as well as completing numerous field inspection sweeps of other properties associated with Koenigsberg’s engineering and inspections. 

Both Adams and Oddo expressed the importance of bringing the displaced families of 1915 Billingsley Terrace back to their homes safely and as quickly as possible.

The northeast corner of 1915 Billingsley Terrace collapsed on Dec. 11, 2023 after Koenigsberg incorrectly identified one of the building’s weight-bearing columns as decorative. Photo Dean Moses

According to Adams’ office, additional enforcement actions may be issued to the responsible parties in connection to the collapse based on the ongoing investigations.

Investigations into the various factors that may have contributed to the collapse are still currently being conducted by the DOB, the NYC Department of Investigation and the office of Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark.

Following the incident, the DOB issued a full vacate order for the entire property, in the interest of public safety. In the aftermath, the Red Cross Greater New York provided accommodation for more than 170 people, including nearly 50 children.

According to the DOB’s Building Information System, as of press time, a Partial Stop Work Order, as well as a Partial Vacate Order, still exists at 1915 Billingsley Terrace.

It is currently unclear whether the landlords of 1915 Billingsley Terrace will face charges; however, they have been hit with a civil suit.

Earlier this month, the Legal Aid Society, on behalf of nearly 30 tenants from the Billingsley Avenue residence, filed a lawsuit against property landlords David Kleiner, Yonah Roth, Moe Doe, 1915 Realty LLC, DOB and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in response to the partial collapse.

The lawsuit was also filed stemming from more than 230 housing violations, which pertained to issues such as cooking gas outages, harmful construction dust in the building’s common areas, an overall lack of janitorial services, as well as an infestation of cockroaches, rats and mice throughout the building.

The landlords have also been accused of engaging in illegal behavior including actions such as forcing tenants to sign agreements that their apartments were fully repaired in exchange for receiving keys to their apartment, despite the poor conditions. They have also allegedly failed to provide sufficient security for the building.

The building owners could not be reached by press time for comment.

Reach Steven Goodstein at or (718) 260–8326. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes