The Murrah building collapse: a reassessment of the transfer girder

Byfield, M.P. and Paramasivam, S. (2012) The Murrah building collapse: a reassessment of the transfer girder. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, 26, (4), 371-376. (doi:10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000227).


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The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building caused a progressive collapse that consumed nearly one half of the building, killing 168 people. The use of a transfer girder along the front face of the building is often cited as the prime reason for the severity of the incident, although this paper provides evidence that suggests the transfer girder may not have been responsible. A method of predicting column failures due to blast is introduced and used to accurately predict the column failure pattern observed during the forensic investigation. The frame was adjusted with the transfer girder replaced with a conventional beam column arrangement. The failure pattern of the reconfigured building indicates that the extent of the collapse would be largely unchanged. This finding has important implications for the design of buildings that may be subjected to accidental or malicious damage. It is argued that the other buildings have demonstrated an ability to survive similar incidents and that the Murrah Building was vulnerable because it combined a glazed façade with open plan architecture, in addition to lacking alternative load paths capable of redistributing loads after multiple column failures

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000227
ISSNs: 0887-3828 (print)
1943-5509 (electronic)
Keywords: blast, progressive collapse, reinforced concrete, design, robustness, structures, column, load paths
Subjects: T Technology > TH Building construction
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Civil Engineering and the Environment
Faculty of Engineering and the Environment > Civil, Maritime and Environmental Engineering and Science > Infrastructure Research Group
ePrint ID: 190697
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
August 2012Published
12 March 2011Made publicly available
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2011 14:18
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:41

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