Location: N 30.32350, W 88.10000
The Grand Casino Hotel in Gulfport, Mississippi is an oceanfront, 17-story hotel building constructed of reinforced concrete frame with shears wall. The approximately 20 ft. first story was partially enclosed, probably with break-away walls, to serve as a welcome lobby with access to stairs and elevators. Only the bare structural concrete columns and shear walls remained at this first level, with all nonstructural items swept away by the storm surge. The second and third stories, with heights of about 15 ft. each, housed the reception desk, shops and banquets rooms, among others. A light steel frame extended these two levels over the drive-thru valet parking. The exterior of these two stories suffered extensive nonstructural damage. The layers of gypsum board, Styrofoam, and fabric lathe with thin coat of colored plaster were stripped from the nonstructural steel stud framing. As a result, high winds entered into the building and destroyed the interior space. The exterior cladding was also stripped at several locations in the upper stories of the building, exposing the steel stud framing.
Figure 1 shows the front view (east façade) of the hotel building, and the exposed nonstructural framing. A close up of the built up exterior cladding is shown in Figure 2. Damage to the interior of the second story reception area is shown in Figure 3.The casino barge associated with this hotel, located to the south east of the building, also appeared to be severely damaged, though it was not thrown inland. The parking structure, located further to the south, partially collapsed.
Submitted by Gilberto Mosqueda and Keith Porter
September 9, 2005