Progress Engendered by Collapses of Record Setting Structures: Malpasset Dam, World Trade Center Towers and KB Bridge in Palau

Date: November 15, 2010

Presenter: Dr. ZdenekP. Bazant, Ph.D., Northwestern University

When built, these were the tallest and slenderest arch dam, the tallest building, and the prestressed box girder of world-record span. The mechanisms of collapse of these structures are clarified. The size effect is shown to have been an important factor in the 1959 failure of the Malpasset Dam. Second, the disputed causes of the twin WTC towers collapse in New York on 9/11/01 are discussed. Third, the 1996 collapse of the Koror-Babeldaob prestress concrete box girder in Palau, with a 241 m span, is analyzed. Some other shear failures of RC structures in which the size effect was a likely a factor are briefly pointed out. The lessons from these regrettable catastrophes are bound to advance the structural engineering profession.

This Special Guest Seminar was hosted by the Department of Civil Engineering, University of British Columbia.

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