Building Behaving Badly

Buildings Behaving Badly; Ok, it’s been a very quiet morning. Nothing much in the way of any work or excitment. The bells come in….Your company gets a dispatch for a report of walls showing signs of cracking and movement in the building. You arrive at curb side with the balance of the one and one assignment to find that you have a thirteen story apartment building lying in its  side on the ground. Now; how are you going to transmit that “on-scene size-up and status report?”…..The following are a series of exceptional photos from of all places China that depict a thirteen story apartment building that clearly behaved badly. The unoccupied apartment building toppled over due a series of design flaws and environmental factors. “Engine 21 to dispatch….can you fill the box and strike a fifth alarm…reporting a thirteen story apartment building laying on the ground……”  “Oh, and by the way; you may want to notify the Fire Chief on this one….”

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There are some of the known facts;

  • An underground garage was being dug on the south side, to a depth of 15 feet (4.6 meters)
  • The excavated dirt was being piled up on the north side, to a height of 33 feet (10 meters)
  • The building experienced uneven lateral pressure from south and north
  • This resulted in a lateral pressure of 3,000 tonnes; which was greater than what the pilings could tolerate.
  • The building was evacuated as conditions were becoming obvious that there was a problem
  • The Building was constructed on grade with no basement foundation a series of pilings

    The Building was constructed on grade with no basement foundation a series of pilings

    Construction was started on the north side of the building for an underground garage to be built. The excavated soil was piled on the south side of the building

    Construction was started on the north side of the building for an underground garage to be built. The excavated soil was piled on the south side of the building

    Environmental conditions-Heavy Rains resulted in significant water saturation into the ground and foundation

    Environmental conditions-Heavy Rains resulted in significant water saturation into the ground and foundation

    The building began to shift due to the tremendous uneven lateral forces being applied from the soil pile, water saturation and soil movement in the foundation. This caused the concrete pilings to snap at the base

    The building began to shift due to the tremendous uneven lateral forces being applied from the soil pile, water saturation and soil movement in the foundation. This caused the concrete pilings to snap at the base

    This caused the building to begin a slow tilt, followed by it toppling over in one unified piece

    This caused the building to begin a slow tilt, followed by it toppling over in one unified piece

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    Thus the entire building toppled over in the southerly direction.If the adjacent Apartment buildings were closer in proximity, the likelihood of domino effect would have occurred.

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    The Apartment Building was built to a height of 13 stories, on grade with no basement or foundation. It was "anchored" to grade with "Hollow" concrete pilings with NO reinforcing bars

    The Apartment Building was built to a height of 13 stories, on grade with no basement or foundation. It was "anchored" to grade with "Hollow" concrete pilings with NO reinforcing bars

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