Learning From Failures in Concrete Design and Construction


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Title: Learning From Failures in Concrete Design and Construction

Author(s): Norbert Delatte

Publication: Special Publication

Volume: 284


Appears on pages(s): 1-12

Keywords: compressive strength, failure, formwork, progressive collapse, punching shear, strut-and-tie models

Date: 3/1/2012

The study of failures can help teach students how to ensure the satisfactory performance of buildings and bridges. A number of failure case studies have been developed for use in courses teaching reinforced concrete design, as outlined in the book “Beyond Failure.” These include failures in the construction process and in formwork, such as the Willow Island Cooling Tower. Some of the shear design provisions in current codes can be traced back to two collapses of Air Force warehouses in the mid-1950s. Three building collapses in the 1970s and 1980s showed the importance of punching shear. There is also much to be learned from reinforced concrete building performance under extreme conditions, such as the terrorist attacks on the Oklahoma City Murrah Building and the Pentagon (9/11). Another classic case is the collapse of a major section of the Ronan Point apartment towers in the UK in 1968, illustrating the need to properly tie precast building elements together. The collapse of the Laval, Quebec concrete bridge abutments in Canada shows the importance of providing continuity of reinforcement. This case study also offers the opportunity to illustrate the application of strut and tie models to analysis of complex reinforced concrete structures.