10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
8 October 2021

Failure Investigation: A Puzzle Without the Box

Multi-Discipline Technical

Failure investigation of building components and structures is a complex, intriguing, and sometimes puzzling technical challenge to undertake. One important, and often difficult, step in the course of an investigation is to piece the collapse back together to understand the failure mechanisms from a jumbled and sometimes disturbed pile of collapse debris. Access to a collapsed component or structure is often dangerous, requiring a separate initial assessment for development of a stabilization and safe access plan.

Failure investigations are further complicated when there is no apparent cause of failure associated with excessive external loading (wind, snow, construction loading, excessive dead load, etc.). Often, initial impressions or assumptions relative to the cause(s) of a failure are incorrect, and only a thorough and thoughtful forensic investigation will ultimately allow for determination of the cause(s) of failure and subsequent development of appropriate recommendations for repair.

Collapse reconstruction, access, and other related topics will be explored through this presentation of real-world case studies and strategies for failure investigation, with specific focus on cases where the cause of collapse is not immediately clear or is initially misunderstood. Introductory concepts related to common failure mechanisms for wood, steel, and masonry structures and components will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand potential misconceptions related to the causes(s) of building component and structural failures.
  • Recognize the importance of thorough forensic investigation in understanding cause(s) of failure and developing appropriate repair recommendations.
  • Identify common failure mechanisms for wood, steel, and masonry structures and components.