AE 537 Building Failures – Your First Post – First Login

AE 537 Building Failures - Your First Post - First Login

AE 537 Class:

Welcome to Building Failures Forum.  This is the site that you will be using for a variety of class functions including information searches, case studies, failures news and most importantly, as a discussion forum.

Topics presented in class, particularly those by a number of the guest speakers will require you to provide  follow up discussion through this forum.  Some of your discussion posts are private to the class and not available to the general public (depending on the topic and the participation of the guest speaker)  which is why a password is sometimes, but not often, required for the discussion activities on this site.  In some cases, if time and schedule permits, the AE 537 Practitioner Guest Speaker will participate in the discussion and comments as well .  The site in general, including your discussions, will be monitored and occasionally moderated by Professor Parfitt.

Password and Initial Posting

Posting of comments (discussions) on this site require moderator (MKev) approval in order to avoid the site from being spammed.  This slows the group discussion and defeats the point of the forum.  However, trusted users (you) can be allowed to post outside the moderator framework if they previously had a post / comment approved.  For this reason, each student is required to post an initial “dummy comment” to this particular Topic Post so that it can be approved; thereby permitting all your future comments to post without an individual comment specific approval.  As such, we will minimize any delays in having the group see your discussion comments and opinions.  There are a few exceptions which can trigger a hold on your post for site security purposes and we will discuss those in class in more detail.

Note:  Any basic text constitutes an initial “dummy comment”.   For example: “Hi MKev.” 

When a password is required, the password will be the same for all discussions and will be provided in class or by way of an PSU Angel email notification.  Do not provide the password to anyone outside of AE 537.  The password to access this post initially and set up your username etc. will be provided via email from the Penn State Angel course management system.

After the initial setup when we begin using the discussion feature on a regular basis, you will be directed to individual discussions via a link sent out by Professor Parfitt or classroom announcement which will tell you to go to the “Recent Posts” to look for the topic or Guest Lecture Topic Name.


Prior to making the first  sample post, you are required to log in with an email address and select a username that you will use for the entire semester.  You must select a username that can be identified by the course instructor and the other students in the class.  First name with last initial is recommended.  (e.g. Kevin P) Note: If you log in with a different email address and/or username, the system will treat this as a New User and your comments will need moderated again.  Please keep track of your sign in information to avoid the need to re-initiate your trusted user status each time you comment.


Participation in the Discussions is a required part of the course.  Evaluation will be based on consistency of participation (read this as remembering to go on line and do it), posting your comments within the required time frame, appropriateness (quality) of your comments and effort in maintaining the discussion (responding to comments addressed to your comments and observations as appropriate).

Providing meaningful comments and information obtained from outside the Guest Lecture are considered a high level of participation.  Comments such as “I liked the speaker’s tie” (even if you did!) are considered low level and essentially non participation.

For some of the discussions, a student or pair of students will be assigned to be the initiator / moderator.  This will be explained in class but the student moderators are responsible for keeping the discussion going and keeping things on track.  MKev  will do this or certainly help with this the first couple of times until everyone gets the hang of things.

Yes, evaluation of your participation is somewhat subjective on the part of the course instructor.  However, there will be a record of all the discussions and if you don’t think your overall end of semester evaluation in this category was fair, we can always give it another look.

27 Responses to “AE 537 Building Failures – Your First Post – First Login”

  1. Ryan L
    August 23, 2018 at 9:09 am #

    The Bailey’s Crossroads highlights the disconnect between regulatory requirements, construction practices etc. Each of the case studies seem to have similar elements. The OSHA regulatory requirements also show the need for oversight and the increased cost associated with not following in place processes.

  2. Ryan L
    August 23, 2018 at 9:02 am #

    Initial articles have been read

  3. Sam Z
    August 23, 2018 at 9:00 am #

    In Regards to the save on foods, I found it interesting that although the actual dead load was much great than the designed dead load that the structure did not collapse until it was occupied.

    Bailey’s Cross road, I don’t think I entirely agree with the court ruling to see who was at fault for the disaster. I feel like experience contractors would know about the delayed curing due to the cold and should they should follow the shoring specified. An engineer should visit and point this out if it an issue but how often or how much the daily construction operations is an engineer suppose to look in on?

    San Antonio Parking Garage, The biggest take away for me on this one is to not ignore the detailing so small things like grout do not get over looked. How common is it to have quality control protocols in companies to avoid these errors?

  4. Katie W.
    August 23, 2018 at 8:40 am #

    For the Bailey’s Crossroads collapse, the engineers/architects were at fault for not visiting the site and pointing out non-compliance issues with OSHA. How often should engineers/architects be visiting and reviewing the ongoing construction? Is there an agreed upon number of times in their contract or is there specific parts of the construction that they are supposed to supervise?

  5. Sam Z
    August 23, 2018 at 7:39 am #


  6. Katie W.
    August 22, 2018 at 11:29 pm #

    Hello MKev

  7. Clayton T
    August 22, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

    I have read the 3 articles

  8. Josiah M
    August 22, 2018 at 10:35 pm #

    Assignment 1 completed

  9. Steven B
    August 22, 2018 at 10:33 pm #

    In all 3 case studies, the failures were preventable if there were not a breakdown of engineering/construction procedures. In 1973, the decision was made to not follow the safety procedures set out by OSHA. In 1988, perhaps because of the limited budget, review of calculation was not done when there was a change made onsite. In 2011, the shop drawing note that specified grouting beneath the column base plate was not followed. It stands to reason that if reliable engineering/construction procedures ae followed, the odds of a major failure are reduced.

  10. Jackson H
    August 22, 2018 at 10:00 pm #

    After reading the first three case studies, there are several similarities and differences between all three incidents. The Bailey’s Crossing collapse was mainly attributed to poor practice by the general contractor and lack of oversight by the design professionals. The Parking Garage collapse in San Antonio can similarly be attributed to poor practices by the contractor and lack of oversight. In the San Antonio collapse, there was insufficient grout in the column connections and although the grouting was specified in the drawings, there wasn’t any oversight and inspection to verify that the requirements had actually been met. The last case study, the Save-On-Foods collapse, was attributed solely to inadequate design and a lack of proper peer review of the structural design. This sets the Save-On-Foods case study apart from the other two since the deficiency was mainly in the design and not the construction process. Overall these case studies show that there are many different reasons that buildings fail, and that these reasons are often compounding. Attention to detail by all parties involved in the design and construction of a building is absolutely necessary to decrease the chances of a building failure.

  11. Jordan O
    August 22, 2018 at 9:14 pm #

    San Antonio parking garage collapse:

    While this collapse and the mistakes that led to it seem to be largely accidental, there are many clear preventable factors that lead to the ultimate failure of the structure. The main preventable factor highlighted in this article was the lack of grout in the column connections which resulted in the inability for the upper and lower columns to act as one cohesive unit and transfer tensile forces. Along with this, enlarged base plate holes and lack of confining ties in the pier extensions could have factored in as well. These were entirely preventable had the specs and notes in the drawings been read and executed thoroughly.

    Skyline Plaza:

    The Skyline plaza collapse of an apartment building and the adjoining parking garage was another preventable incident. In this case, the shoring for the concrete slab was removed before it should have been leaving the concrete under-strengthened and leading to shear failure. The contractor did not comply with the shoring requirements specified and this lead to a significant loss of life. This accident could have been prevented by following the shoring specifications, but the responsibility was attributed to the designer so specifying a longer time for shoring could have also possibly prevented this.

    Supermarket roof collapse:

    The supermarket roof collapse is different from the other failures in that it wasn’t necessarily an error in the construction process that led to failure. Several design errors were highlighted in this article that were key in the failure of the beam that led to 4 bays collapsing. Load calculation errors, added concrete volume on site, incorrect materials used,a random beam cross section reduction, and general non-conservative calculations were some of the many preventable factors throughout the design and construction process that led to the collapse of the roof.

  12. Sierra S
    August 22, 2018 at 8:44 pm #

    San Antonio Parking Garage Collapse and Bailey’s Crossroads:
    In both articles it has become evident that construction sequence and accuracy is crucial to the overall performance of the building. Codes and regulations have continuously been updated to account for mistakes made in the past.
    However, from my understanding, in both cases the structural engineer specified the correct process for construction but in Bailey’s Crossroads the engineer was found negligent but in San Antonio the blame doesn’t point towards the engineer. What is different between how the engineer handled each situation? What is the expected involvement of the structural engineer on site and through construction?

  13. Abby S
    August 22, 2018 at 7:31 pm #

    I found it very interesting to see the contrast between each of these case study failures and whether the design, construction, or both were to blame. I was surprised that the design engineers and architects were found responsible for the Skyline Plaza collapse when they had specified shoring requirements that the contractor did not comply with. To what extent should the designer be expected to visit the job site and caution contractors before the responsibility falls on the contractors to comply with the requirements in the construction documents?

  14. Josiah M
    August 22, 2018 at 7:07 pm #

    Hi MKev.

  15. Eric I
    August 22, 2018 at 7:06 pm #

    I think that there are a few things to take away from the supermarket roof collapse. The first being that while we have spent a great deal of time in school analyzing members for flexural and shear capacities, it is vital to consider buckling effects and connection stability as well. We have spent less time on these topics but we must realize that they are of huge concern. Also, the bidding environment created a situation where the quality of design was compromised. This event shows that cheaper does not always mean best. Lastly, it appears that a lot of architectural changes were made that altered the loading. As a design professional, it is important to stay up to date and ensure that previous assumptions/decisions are still valid.

    As for Bailey’s Crossroads, this failure proves that simply writing something in the specs or on the drawings may not always be enough. The shoring/formwork removal plan seems to have been fairly complex for this project and something this vital to the structural integrity of the building is probably worth more than a general note in the specs. Even if there is a great contractor on site, it is best to confirm everyone is on the same page and understands the instructions/sequencing.

    Lastly, the parking garage collapse in San Antonio shows that lack of attention to small details can have catastrophic effects. Improper grouting of the precast columns compromised their structural performance and led to the failure. This is a process error but I think it is an example of how the construction team might not fully understand the structural impacts of a missed detail and therefore may deem it as unnecessary to address. As the designer, it is best to check that your specifications are being followed but the construction team should always be adhering to the directions provided.

  16. Abby S
    August 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm #

    Hi MKev.

  17. Sierra S
    August 22, 2018 at 5:14 pm #


  18. Clayton T
    August 22, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

    Hi MKev!

  19. Steven B
    August 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm #

    Initial post

  20. Jordan O
    August 22, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

    Hi MKev

  21. Smithr
    August 22, 2018 at 1:40 pm #

    From Bailey’s Crossroads – Redundancy is a main point of emphasis for overall design of the Structural Engineer, but in this case it seems like redundancy was not acknowledged for Construction Loads. What are the expectations of Structural Engineers for considering Construction Loading? The structural engineer may figure the building sequencing to go a certain way when the in reality the contractor goes in another.

  22. Jackson H
    August 22, 2018 at 1:20 pm #

    Dummy Post

  23. rgstanza
    August 22, 2018 at 10:41 am #

    Hi MKev!

  24. Jackson H
    August 21, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    Initial Dummy Post

  25. Eric I
    August 21, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

    Good afternoon, MKev.

  26. Smithr
    August 21, 2018 at 3:45 pm #

    Testing this out

  27. Ryan L
    August 21, 2018 at 11:43 am #

    Initial Post from Ryan Livingston

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