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Title: Experimental Study on Failure of Reinforced Concrete Building

Author(s): Patricio Bonelli, Rene Tobar, and Gilberto Leiva

Publication: Structural Journal

Volume: 96

Issue: 1

Appears on pages(s): 3-8

Keywords: buildings; models; reinforced concrete walls

Date: 1/1/1999

The low amount of flexural steel used in the El Faro building in Viña del Mar, Chile, may have caused a brittle failure, leading to its collapse during the earthquake of March 3, 1985. Six 1:10 scale microconcrete models of the most damaged wall of the building were constructed and tested in the laboratory. The study concluded that flexural brittle failure associated with the fracture of the longitudinal reinforcing bars may be prevented by using an appropriate flexural reinforcement ratio. In a second phase, to study the three-dimensional effect of the rest of the structure on the critical wall, a six-story 1:10 scale model of the whole building was constructed and tested under cyclic quasi-static lateral loads. None of the tests reproduced the failure of the actual building. The behavior of the models was characterized by stable hysteresis cycles, with acceptable levels of strength and stiffness degradation. The building model was able to sustain a top displacement of nearly 25 mm (1.5 percent of the height), with extensive cracking and fracturing of longitudinal reinforcing steel, but without catastrophic failure. The real cause of the El Faro building collapse could not be inferred from the available data obtained during this study, leading us to consider the influence of some other effects, such as a possible local weakness of the wall and dynamic effects not considered in this study.


Electronic Structural Journal


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