Reinforced concrete relies heavily on the construction quality of the structure. Whether it is a flat-slab or a transfer beam, the design is only as good as the detail that can be constructed. As engineers, we can often overlook this concept and cause a critical problem that was never anticipated. Robin Whittle’s case studies in “Failures in Concrete Structures” expose many of these common situations, attempting to develop better awareness for future generations of structural engineers. All things considered, Whittle is able to summarize very important concepts in a little over 100 pages.
Where Whittle succeeds most is in the presentation and commentary of the case study. He is able to describe the situation, the intended design, the constructed design, and an analysis of why the failure happened. Whittle then proceeds to summarize the key concepts that could prevent the failure from reoccurring.
Whittle advises that “codes of practice give rules that can at best provide approximations and will work in most, but not all cases; they do not necessarily give factual information.” It is an important statement as we study failures. Although we may understand the best practices in place and how they have evolved, the understanding and dissection of the analysis still requires engineering principles that are, quite often, built upon very simple load transfer concepts.