Building collapse victims’ parents question how architect still has license

Former Philadelphia city treasurer Nancy Winkler has been fighting for justice ever since her daughter, Anne Bryan, 24, and six others were killed in the tragic 2013 building collapse at 22nd and Market streets.

In May, as part of that quest, Winkler went to Harrisburg to attend a meeting of the state’s architects licensure board, intending to deliver a statement about the death of her daughter. Winkler wanted to know why the architect who oversaw the demolition that killed her daughter, Plato Marinakos, had still not yet lost his state license.

But she did not get to speak. Instead, she got thrown out.

“I signed in, and some staff pulled me aside and asked me to leave the meeting,” Winkler said at a press conference Monday. “They felt it would be prejudicial to the review. I complied with their wishes.”

Winkler, her husband Jay Bryan, and attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, who helped win a record-setting $227 million verdict for victims of the Salvation Army building collapse, on Monday questioned publicly why the state licensing board has not yet issued any response to a complaint Bryan filed against Marinakos two years ago. 

Jurors at the civil trial found Marinakos, along with the late Richard Basciano, the developer who had ordered the demolition of a former Hoagie City store at that location to turn it into a parking lot, responsible for the collapse.

General contractor Griffin Campbell was convicted and got 30 years, and backhoe operator Sean Benschop pleaded guilty and got 15 years, on criminal charges related to knocking down a free-standing wall near 22nd and Market streets that fell on the adjacent Salvation Army store, which was open and had customers inside, including Anne Bryan, who lost her life along with six others. A dozen were seriously injured. 

Jurors found Marinakos’ conduct in overseeing the shoddily-run construction by inexperienced demolition workers “extreme and outrageous.”

But the response by the Architects Licensure Board to the grieving parents’ request that Marinakos’ license be “stripped and revoked” has been no response at all, they say. Questions about the delay have also been met with silence or at most, the reply that the board can’t comment on pending investigations.

A spokeswoman told Metro the board “can neither confirm nor deny whether any specific licensee is under investigation.”

Marinakos did not respond to requests for comment. But his work website is still active, and Winkler said she has seen his business signs in windows around the area, so she believes he is continuing to work.

“There ought to be consequences for such a catastrophic breach of duties,” Bryan said.

Plans are still moving forward for a memorial to the collapse victims at the site of the tragedy that made international news. And for family of victims like Anne, the pain has never gone away.

“We’re facing our fifth Christmas without Ann,” Winkler said. “The loss is just as real now as it was on June 5, 2013.”

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