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Newsletter No 26 - April 2012

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Report Overview

The first three reports are about the condition and quality of aging multi-storey car parks which are common in city centres in the UK and elsewhere and usually located where large numbers of people may congregate. The reports suggest that there are structures which have deteriorated and could be at risk of failure and these echo concerns that have been expressed over a long period. Indeed in the past year it is reported that several car parks have had to be demolished on safety grounds and the condition of others is unknown. Engineers must use their influence to ensure that regular inspections are carried out and the necessary maintenance is undertaken. There follows an interesting question about the behaviour of high strength concrete columns intersected by slabs with a much lower strength. Does this have an effect? The next report is about water ingress into RHS columns and the consequences of freezing, whilst the final report concerns responsibilities of those involved in a Competent Person’s Scheme. CROSS reports are received from engineers in a wide range of circumstances as demonstrated by the diversity of subjects that are covered. Newsletters are received and read by a good number of organisations and individuals and feedback is that the contents are found be interesting and useful. The web site is visited to search the data base and the bigger this gets the better. However there is always a need for more reports and the message which appears at this point in every Newsletter is really important. If you see value or gain anything by reading the reports then please reciprocate by sending in your own experiences. The CROSS programme depends on receiving reports and individuals and firms are encouraged to participate by sending concerns in confidence to structural-safety.

Overview of Reports in this Newsletter

224 Structural assessments of multi-storey car parks

The parking industry has in recent years (2012) seen several MSCPs closed due to structural fears, says a reporter, at least two of which have since been demolished, which begs the question how close were they to structural failure before they were taken out of service? Some MSCPs hold more than 1,000 vehicles and therefore a collapse could be catastrophic.

253 Freezing splits galvanised RHS columns

At a construction site a number of ground floor RHS columns had split vertically. The columns were 120 x 120 x 5.0 Hot-Rolled Square Hollow Sections and part of a single-storey section of a new complex.

263 Concern about faulty self-certification of new installation

A reporter’s client had work done in a domestic property by a specialist contractor who was registered under a self-certification Competent Person’s Scheme (CPS) but the work was faulty. The scheme was intended to ensure that installations complied with Building Regulations. The regulatory body for the scheme was unwilling to arrange remedial works and it took more than a year (and two re-installations) before an adequate job was done.

265 Multi-storey car parks - structural conditions - No.1

This reporter is a structural engineer who has completed a large number of remediation projects on MSCPs built mostly in the late 1960's or early 70's. The car parks were owned by various clients including major owners and operators. About half have been at Shopping Centres and half in city centres.

267 Multi-storey car parks - structural conditions - No.2

This reporter has two instances where his firm has prepared reports and carried out numerical assessments of city centre car parks that have led to the car parks being demolished. One had precast concrete beams which had come to the end of their life. The other was constructed in the 1970s using insitu reinforced concrete and is particularly interesting.

296 Compatibility at RC column to slab joint - strong column/weak slab

A reporter worked as an independent engineer to review the structural design of a commercial building of about 30 storeys with a central RC core, RC internal and external columns, and flat slab floors. Construction is in-situ and columns have at least 4% of reinforcement.