The design aids presented here - which can be utilized in preliminary and/or final design stages or to .verifY output from software - conform to the provisions in Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (318-99), and Commentary (318R-99) published by the American Concrete Institute. All referenced section numbers are inACI 318-99.

Design for Flexure

Sizing the cross-section. Typically, the engineer determines the member depth first to ensure that the deflection requirements of Section 9.5 are satisfied. As an example, consider a . non-prestressed beam or one-way slab that is not supporting or attached to partitions or other construction likely to be damaged by large deflections. The minimum thickness (h) is given in Table 9.5(a). For one end continuous, normal-weight concrete, and Grade 60 reinforcement, the minimum thickness is f/24 for solid one-way slabs and £/18.5 for beams or ribbed one-way slabs, where the span length (l), defined in Section 8.7, is in inches.

Prudent choice of steel percentage can also minimize deflection problems. When the tension reinforcement ratio (p) used in the posi-

Vr• 5,000 psi
l/ f e ~ 4.000 psi
7 V
r 0 ~ 3,000 psi
/ op
/ V
V tive moment region does not exceed one half of the maximum value permitted (p ::; O.5Pma0, the member size is usually not controlled by deflection.

Consider the following strength equation that must be satisfied at all sections along the length of the member:

Of, for simplicity,


where band d are in inches and Mu is in ft· kips.

The designer can determine any combina. tion of band d from Equation (2), with the only restriction being that the final depth selected must satisfy the deflection control criteria. The effective depth (d) that satisfies deflection requirements can be determined from Table 9.5(a), assuming d "" h ~ 2.5 inches for beams with one layer of steel or d "" /1 - 1.25 inches for joists and slabs. Equation (2) can then be solved for the width b, considering the maximum Mu along the span. Similar sizing equations can be derived easily for other materials.

Because slabs are typically designed using a one-foot strip, Equation (2) simplifies to:

Mit ~ ~Mn = ~~fr (d - a12) = ~pbdfy(d - a12)


where a ~ As If (0.8Sf'c b = p d Iy 10.85/~. As noted above, deflection problems are rarely encountered for beams with p ,. O.5Pmax' When p = O.5Pmax ~ 0.0107 is substituted into Equation (1) and 4,000 psi concrete and Grade 60 reinforcement are assumed, Equation (I) becomes the following:



:i 1.000 rl



., 800


Q 000




o 0.0000



Reinforc:ement ratio, p Figure 1. Strength curves for Grade 60 Reinforcement.






Designers should follow the guidelines below when sizing members for economy:

• Use whole-inch increments for beam dimensions and 'h-inch increments for slabs.

• Use constant beam size from span to span and vary reinforcement as required.

• Use wide flat beams rather than narrow deep beams. When applicable, use the same depth as the joist system.

• Specify the beam widths to be equal to or


greater than the column width.

• Repeat the same member sizes wherever possible in the building.

Following these guidelines results in economical formwork - this typically leads to the most economical structure

Determining required reinforcement. To determine the required negative and positive reinforcement along the span, Equation (I) can be rewritten in the following form:

M [o.5P/Yj

s; = cpbd2 =P/y 1- a.851c'


The relationship between p and Rn for Grade 60 reinforcement and various concrete strengths is shown in Figure 1. It is evident that the relationship between p and Rn is approximately linear up to about "h of Pmax' This relationship can be described as follows:


~d2 m (p x constant) or A.. ~

4Jb cpd( constant)


For f~ = 4,000 psi, fy = 60,000 psi, and P = ('h )PmaJ<' the constant for the linear approximation is as follows:

_j,_ [ O.5PJ;,]

12,000 1- 0.851:

= 60,000 [1- 0.5[(2/3) x 0.0214] X60] = 4.37

U,OOO O.85x4


Notice that the 12,000 in the denominator

is for unit conversion. Substituting the constant from Equation (5) into Equation (4) results in the following:

A, Mu

== 1jId( constant)

M" M"


3.93d 4d



0.9 xd x 4.37

where Mu is in fi=kips, d is in inches, and As is in square inches.

Equation (6) can be used to determine quickly the required area of tension reinforcement at any section of a rectangular beam or slab subjected to Mil' Similar calculations show that this equation can also be used for members with 3,000 psi and 5,000 psi concrete

For all values of p < eh)Pmax< Equation (6) will give slightly conservative results. The maximum deviation in As is less than ± 10 percent at the minimum and maximum permitted steel ratios. For members with p in the range of 1 percent to 1.5 percent, the error is less than 3 percent.

For positive reinforcement in flanged floor beams (T-beam construction), As can usually be computed for a rectangular compression zone Rarely will there be a need to compute As for a Tshaped compression zone The flexural member is designed as a rectangular section whenever a $ hfwhere hf is the thickness of the slab. The depth of the rectangular compression zone a is given by:



(7) O.85!c'b e

where be is the effective slab width defined in Section S.lO.

Detailing the reinforcement. Once the required area of steel is computed from Equation (6), the size and number of reinforcing bars must be selected. The minimum and maximum number of reinfordng bars permitted in a cross-section is a function of cover and spacing requirements given in Section 7.6.1 and 3.3.2 (minimum spadng for concrete placement), Section 7.7.1 (minimum cover for protection of reinforcement), and Section 10.6 (maximum spadng for control of flexural cracking).

The maximum spadng of reinforcing bars is limited to the value given by Equation (10-5) in Section 10.6.4. The following equation can be used to determine the minimum number of bars nmin required in a single layer:


540 (36)

s ",,--2.5c :::;;12 -

"Is C Is

ACI Equation (1 0·5)

Table 1 contains the minimum number of bars required in a single layer for beams ofvarious widths.

The information in Table 1 is accurate assuming:

- Grade 60 reinforcement,

- Clear cover to the tension reinforcement (cJ

equals two inches, and

• is equals 36 ksi,

Based on these assumptions, the maximum bar spacing is 10 inches.

The maximum number of bars (nmax) permitted in a section can be computed from the formula below:

biD - 2( Cs + ds + r) 1

n = +

max (Clear space) + 4.


Table 2 contains the maximum number of bars permitted in a single layer.

The information in Table 2 is accurate assuming:

- Grade 60 reinforcement,


No. 3 10in. ';;
No.4 12 in. I;'
NO.5 14 in. r
~. " Table 5. Minimum beam widths.

• Clear cover to the stirrups ('s) equal to L5 inches,

• 'A-inch aggregate, and

• No.3 stirrups are used for No.5 and No.6 longitudinal bars, and No.4 stirrups are used for No. 7 and larger bars.

Selecting bars within the limits of Tables 1 and 2 will provide automatic conformity with the code requirements for cover and spacing, given the assumptions noted above. Tables for other parameters can be generated easily using Equations (8) and (9).

From Equation (10-5), the maximum bar spacing for one-way slabs is 12 inches, assumlng x-inch cover and is equals 36 ksi.

Requirements for the development of flexural reinforcement are given in Sections 12.10 to 12.12. For beams and slabs subjected to uniformly distributed gravity loads only (for members that are not part of the lateral-forceresisting system), recommended bar details can be found in the ACI Detailing Manual, the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute (CRSI) Reinforcing Bar Detailing Manual, and Chapter 8 of the Portland Cement Association (PCA) publication "Simplified Design of Concrete Buildings of Moderate Size and Height n

Design for shear

In accordance with ACI Equation (11-2), the nominal shear strength Vn is the sum of two components: nominal shear strength provided by concrete (Vel and nominal shear strength provided by shear reinforcement (V's). Thus, at any section of the member:

Vu ~ $Vn = $Vc + $Vs (10)

Using three standard stirrup spacings (s ~ d/2, ~! d/3, and d/4), values of ~Vs can be derived for ! various stirrup sizes and spacings, independent ! of the member size.



For vertical stirrups:


By substituting din for s (where n = 2, 3, or 4), the above equation can be rewritten as:

Thus, for Grade 60, NO.3 Il-stirrups spaced atd/2:

$Vs = 0.85 X 0.22 X 60 X 2 = 22.4 kips, say 22 kips

Table 4 contains values of ~Vs for Grade 60 If-stirrups with 2 legs. It is important to note that these values of $V~ are not dependent on the member size or on the concrete strength.

Once the required ~V~ = Vu - 'liVe has been computed at a particular section along the length of the beam, a value of ~Ys can be chosen from Table 4 that is equal to or slightly greater than that which is required. The stirrup size and spacing corresponding to this value of $Vs can be specified at this section of the beam.

According to Section, ¢Vs is limited to ~8 tf"Jlwd. Ifit is determined that the required $Vs ii greater than this limiting value, one or more of the cross-sectional dimensions must be increased in order to carry the factored

A summary of the ACI 318-99 provisions for shear design is contained in Table 3. These provisions are applicable to normal-weight concrete members subjected to shear and flexure only with Grade 60 shear reinforcement.

The selection and spacing of stirrups can be simplified if the spacing (s) is expressed as a function of the effective depth (d). According to Sections and, the maximum stirrup spacing varies from d/2 to d/4 for

nonprestressed members with vertical stirrups. Table 4. Values of$V 6 (Iy= 60 ksi)'.

shear force.

Larger stirrup sizes at wider spacings are more cost effective than smaller stirrup sizes at closer spacings because the latter requires disproportionately high costs for fabrication and placement. Changing the stirrup spacing as few times as possible over the length of the memo ber also results in cost savings.

In order to develop the stirrups adequately, the' requirements of Section 12.13 must be sat. isfied. To allow for the bend radii at comers of U -stirrups, the minimum beam widths given in Table 5 should be provided.

Design for Torsion

In 1995, a new design procedure for torsion was introduced in ACI 318. The provisions are based on a thin-walled tube. space truss analogy, where the contribution of concrete to torsional strength is disregarded for simplicity. Except for a few minor changes, the torsion provisions in ACI 318-99 are virtually the same as those in ACI 318-95.

A comprehensive set of design aids that can be used to efficiently design and detail concrete beams subjected to the combined effects of flexure, shear, and torsion can be found in the PCA publication "Design of Concrete Beams for Torsion. "

Design examples that illustrate the use of the timesaving design aids presented here for flexure and shear can be found at wwwportcement.orgibuildings. _

s in Part One, the time-saving methods addressed here conform to the provisions of Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (318-99) and Commentary 1318R-99), published by the American Concrete Institute. All referenced section numbers and notations are from ACI 318-99.

Because of limited space, we were unable to indude the graphs in the printed version of this article. Please see the complete article with graphs on our Web site ~Qstructural com)_. under the editorial index. t

~ ~

Minimum slab thickness i

Calculating deflections for two-way slabs is complicated, even when linear elastic behavior

is assumed. For routine designs, designers do not need to perform complex deflection calcu- , lations for nonprestressed, two-way slab systems if the slab thickness meets the minimum requirements of Section 9.5.3. Graph 1 (all graphs may be viewed in the online version of this article, at www.gostructural.com) contains minimum slab thickness as a function of clear span length (In) in the long direction. This assumes Grade 60 reinforcement and, for those systems with edge and/or interior beams, assumes they are relatively stiff.

When two-way slabs are, supported directly on columns (as in flat plates

and flat slabs), shear near the

columns is critically important, especially at exterior slab-column connections without spandrel beams. For flat plates, slab thickness will almost always be governed by two-way shear rather than serviceability requirements. Graph 2, which is based on the two-way shear requirements of Section 11.12, cart be used to determine a preliminary slab thickness for a flat plate assuming the following:

• square edge columns of size

Cl (three-sided critical section),

• column supports a tributary area A,

• square bays (t1 = ~),

• gravity load moment transferred between the slab and edge column is in accordance with Section, and

• 4,OOO-psi normal-weight concrete.

A preliminary slab thickness (h) can be obtained by adding 1.25 inches to d from the figure, where the total factored load (wu) includes an estimate for the weight of the slab. For rectangular bays with t1 .. 2~, d from

Umfotmly <l'ostributed Joadi"IJ [UD S 2)

Figure 1: Required conditions for analysiS by Direct Design Method.

Graph 2 should be increased by about 15 percent, and for bays with tl = O.5~, d may be decreased by 15 percent

Fire resistance requirements per the governing building code also must be considered when specifying minimum slab thickness,

Design for flexure

This portion of the article provides design aids to help determine the design moments for gravity loads and lateral loads. According to Section, it is permissable to combine the results of the gravity load analysis with those of the lateral load analysis. Required reinforcement can be computed from Equation 1 for the governing load combination. For flat plate and flat slab construction, there's more to consider for the transfer of loads at the column-to-slab connection. Moments from gravity and lateral loads are transferred between a slab and column by it combination of flexure and eccentricity of shear. Only a portion of the unbalanced moment (Mu) at the column is transferred by flexure (rf Mu); the remainder is transferred by eccentricity of shear (rvMu)' Please see the section entitled "Moment transfer in slab-column connections" for additional information.

Gravity loads - According to Section 13.5_1.1, either the Direct Design Method (DDM) of Section 13.6 or the Equivalent Frame Method (EFM) of Section 13-7 may be used to determine the effects of gravity loads on two-way slab systems in lieu of other methods that satisfy conditions of equilibrium and geometric compatibility.

For routine cases, the DDM can be used to determine moments in column and middle strips quiddy and easily - as long as the conditions illustrated in Figure 1 are satisfied. The requirements of Section on relative stiffness of beams in two perpendicular directions must also be satisfied. Moment redistribution, as permitted by Section 8.4, may not be applied for slab systems designed by the DDM_

In essence, the DDM is a three-step analysis procedure. The designer first calculates the total factored static moment (Mo) for a panel. Secondly, he or she distributes Mo to negative and positive moment sections. Thirdly, he or she distributes negative and positive factored moments to column and middle strips and to beams, if any.

For uniform loading. Mo for a panel is computed from the following:



(ACI Equation 13-3)

End Span

Interior Span

Interior Span

End Span

Notes; (2) Torslonat stiffness of spandrel beam Ilt 2: 2.5. For values of Jl,,, 2.5, exterior negative col~,nn strip moment Increases to (0.30 - 0.03Ilt)M •.

Interior Span

End Span

Table1: Design moment coefficients used with the Direct Design Method for flat plates or flat slabs supported directly on columns. Table 2: Design moment coeffi· cients used with the Direct Design Method for flat plate or flat slab with edge beams. Table 3: Design moment coefficients used with the Direct Design Method for flat plate or flat slab with end span integral with wall.


End Span

Interior Span

. and Grade 60 reinforcement:

Mu A =-s 4d

(Equation 1)

where As is in square inches, Mu is in foot-kips, and d is in inches.

According to Section 13.3, the minimum reinforcement ratio in each direction (based on gross concrete area) is 0.0018 for Grade 60 reinforcement, and maximum bar spacing is the smaller of 2h or 18 inches.

Lateral loads - Numerous analytical procedures exist for modeling frames subjected to lateral loads. In general, any procedure that satisfies equilibrium and geometric compatibility may be utilized - as long as results from the analysis are in reasonable agreement with test data. For slab-column frames, where only a portion of the slab is effective across its full width in resisting the effects of lateral loads, acceptable approaches indude finite element models, effective beam width models, and equivalent frame models. Regardless of the method used, frame member stiffness must take into account effects of cracking and reinforcement so that drift caused by wind and/or earthquake effects is not underestimated (Section

For flat plate frames, the effective beam width model will give reasonably accurate results in routine situations. In this method, the actual slab is replaced by a flexural element with the same thickness as the slab and an effective beam width be that is a fraction of the actual transverse width of the slab. The following equation can be used to determine be for an interior slab-colurnn frame (from "Models for laterally Loaded Slab-Column Frames" by Hwang and Moehle, ACI Structural Journal, March-April 2000, pp. 345-352):

Table 4: Design moment coefficients used with the Direct Design Method for flat , plate or flat slab with end span simply supported on wall. Table 5: Design moment c,o~fficients used with the Direct Design Method for two-way beam·supported slab

where Wu is the factored load per unit area. Clear span tn is defined in Section 13.6.25 for both rectangular and nonrectangular supports, and span ~ is transverse to tn. Section defines ~ when the transverse span on either side of the centerline of supports varies, and Section defines ~ when the span adjacent and parallel to an edge is being considered.

Moment coeffidents contained in Sections 13.6.3 through 13.6.6 are applied directly to Mo to determine the negative and positive moments in the column and middle strips

(and, if applicable, beam moments). For design convenience, moment coeffidents for typical, two-way slab systems are contained in Tables 1 through 5 for the DDM. Final moments in column and middle strips can be computed directly from the tabulated values, where all negative moments are at the.face of the support.

Once the factored negative and positive moments (Mu) are determined from the applicable table, reinforcement can be computed easily by using the equation that was developed in Part One for 4,OOO-psi concrete

(Equation 2)

For an exterior frame, be equals half the value computed from Equation 2. The reference shows that this solution produces an accurate estimate of elastic stiffness for regular frames.

To account for cracking in nonprestressed slabs, bending stiffness is typically reduced to between one-half and one-quarter of the, uncracked stiffness, which is a function of h

effects in columns, lower-bound slab stiffness should be assumed. When slab-column frames interact with structural walls, a range of slab stiffnesses should be investigated in order to assess the importance of interaction.

Design for shear

When two-way slab systems are supported by beams or walls, shear forces in the slab are seldom a critical design factor. In contrast, when they are supported directly on columns, as in flat plates or flat slabs, shear around the columns is critically important, especially at exterior slab-column connections where the total exterior slab moment must be transferred directly to the column.

The designer must investigate both one-way shear and two-way shear. For one-way or beamtype shear, which may govern in long. narrow slabs, the critical section is at a distance, Ii, from the face of the support (Section Design for one-way shear consists of checking


.. 1_-- ......

e :fllI-(.c, +d)12 A,,:f,d'

.JIe : JlrI : 2f,d'

that the following is satisfied at critical sections in both directions:

(Section 11.12.2):

(Equation 4)

where Vu is the maximum factored shear stress at the critical section and all other variables are defined in Section 11.0. Graphs 3a through 3c contain allowable shear stress q,uc in slabs with 4,OOO-psi normal-weight concrete at interior, edge, and comer columns.

(Equation 3)

where e is equal to e1 or ~ and Vu is the corresponding factored shear force at the critical section. One-way shear rarely governs a design.

Two-way or punching shear is usually more critical than one-way shear in slab systems supported directly on columns. The critical section for two-way action is at a distance, d12, from edges or comers of columns, concentrated loads, reaction areas, and changes in slab thickness such as edges of column capitals or drop panels (Section For nonprestressed slabs of normal-weight concrete without shear reinforcement, the following must be satisfied

c = M,"l.llE"," dI2] rI= [101(10 +toIlI"''' dI2J Ae-=t,az


.JIc' $21,11'

Moment transfer in slab-column connections

Transfer of moment in slab-column connections takes place by a combination of flexure (Section 13.5.3) and eccentridty of shear (Section 11.12.6). The portion oftotal unbalanced moment (Mu) transferred by flexure is '(fMu' where 'ff is defined in Equation 13-1. It is assumed that 'YfMu' is transferred within an

.. effective slab width equal to c2 plus 1.5 slab or drop panel thicknesses on each side of the column or capital. Reinforcement is concentrated in the effective slab width such that ~Mn ;:: 'YrMu or, using Equation 1, As ;:: 'YrMul4d.

Graph 4 can be utilized to determine 'Yf for various critical section dimensions b1 and b2. Under certain conditions, 'Yf may be increased to values greater than those from Equation 13- 1 (see Section

The portion of the total unbalanced moment (Mu) transferred by eccentricity of shear is 'YvMu' where 'Yv = 1 - 'Yf (Sections and 11.12.6). When DDM is used, the gravity load moment (Mu) to be transferred between slab and edge column must be O.3Mo (Section

Assuming that shear stress resulting from moment transfer by eccentricity of shear varies linearly about the centroid of the critical section, the factored shear stresses on the faoes of the critical section are as follows (Section



(EquatIon 5a)

(Equation 5b)

where A, is the area of the critical section and llc and J/e' are the section moduli of the critical section. As noted above, the maximum Vu must be less than or equal to the governing ~vc.

Numerous resources contain equations for determining A, Jle, andJle', indudingthe Portland Cement Association publication, Simplified Design of Reinforced Concrete Buildings of Moderate Size and Height Tables 6 through 10 facilitate calculation of these quantities for rectangular and circular columns.

Reinforcement details

Section 13.3 contains general reinforcement requirements for two-way slabs, including the minimum area of steel and maximum bar spacing, When choosing bar sizes, the largest bars satisfying maximum limits on spacing generally provide overall economy. Critical dimensions that limit bar size are thickness of slab available for hooks and distances from critical design sections to edges of slab.

ACFFigure 13.3.8 contains minimum extensions for reinforcement in two-way systems without beams. These minimum lengths and extensions may not be sufficient when a twoway slab is part of the lateral-force-resisting (LFR) system (Section In such cases, bar lengths must be determined in accordance with Sections 12.10 through 12.12.

"'=u.fII>+!,])(c,+dI2] Details at edge and corner columns that sat-

isfy the requirements of Section 13.5.3 for transfer of unbalanced moment by flexure are shown in Figure 2 for flat plates.

When two-way slab systerns are part of the LFR system, distribution of moment transfer reinforcement at interior columns, as well as at edge columns bending parallel to an edge, depends on the ratio of the factored, moments from gravity loads to factored moments from lateral loads in the slab. For ratios greater than one, the combined moment in the slab on each face of the support is negative, and all of the moment transfer reinforcement should be placed at the

top of the slab. However, for ratios less than

~=-..,... • = .. =(0, + dYl> A,,=f,<I'

Jk = JI .. = 2J.d!

Table 8: Properties of critical section - edge column, bending parallel to edge. Table 9: Properties of critical section - corner rectangular column.

:---.- c = c' = (D + d)/2 A., = f.d'

J/c = Jlc' = 2f.d"

Table 1 0: Properties of critical section - interior circular column.

one, the combined moment is positive on one face of the support and negative on the other face. In this situation, it's prudent to divide moment transfer reinforcement between the top and bottom of the slab, with the top and bottom reinforcement continuous over the column to account for moment reversals. .

Worked-out design examples illustrating the use of the time-saving design methods pre-

sented here for two-way slabs can be found at www.portcement.orglbuildings .•

Figure 2: Typical reinforcement details at edge and corner columns in flat plates.

Start 1" additional bar @ column centerline (if uniformly spaced bar is on centerline, start additional bars @3" on each side). Provide 3" min. spacing from uniformly spaced bars (if possible).

Start 1" bar on each side @ sI2 from edge of column strip. Space remaining bars @ s.

Note: Where additional top bars are required, indicate the total number of bars on the design drawings as, for example, (8 + 3)-No. 4, where 8 is the number of uniformly spaced bars and 3 is the number of additional bars.

\ \

Start is! additional bar @S" from edge. Space remainder @ 3" (if possible). Provide 3" min. spacing from uniformly spaced bars (if possible).

Start 1" bar @ 3" from edge of column strip. Space remaining bars @ s,

3.0 10.0





Co 0.160






C 0.160 ::


0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0
2 50


0.0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 ~

For preliminary design, the engineer may' ,

assume that the total load on a column is directly proportional to its bay size (tributary area). Bay size is often dictated by architectural and functional requirements of a building. For example, if the architectural design requires maximum, unobstructed floor space, larger bays must be used. The type of floor system used can also influence column spacing: economical use of a non-prestressed, flat plate floor system usually requires columns to be

spaced closer than those supporting a one-way or two-way joist system.

It is also important that the column design is economical and satisfies all of the applicable strength requirements of ACI 318. Because concrete carries axial compressive loads more costeffectively than reinforcing steel, it is typically more cost-effective to use larger column sizes with less reinforcement.

Columns must be sized not only for strength, but also for constructibility. For proper concrete placement and consolidation, the engineer must select column and bar sizes that minimize reinforcement congestion, espedally at beam-column joints. A smaller number of larger bars usually improves constructibility. Table 1 (see Page 46) can be used to determine the number of longitudinal bars that can be accommodated on the face of a rectangulat tied column with normal lap splices, based on the provisions of Section 7.6.3. Similariy, Table 2 contains the maximum number of bars that can be accommodated in circular columns or square colunms of size h with longitudinal reinforcement arranged in a circle with normal lap splices.

Reusing column forms from story to story can result in significant savings. In low-rise buildings, it is more economical to use the same column size and concrete strength for the entire height of the building and to vary the

longitudinal reinforcement only as required. In taller buildings, the engineer can change the size of the column over the height of the building. but the number of changes should be kept to a minimum. By judiciously varying reinforcement and concrete strength, the same column size can be used over a number of stories because in any size building. it is economically unsound to vary column size to suit the load on each story level.

In preliminary design, it is necessary to select column sizes for cost estimating and/or frame analysis. The initial selection can be an important factor to the overall design time. A preliminary column size should be selecte~ based on a low percentage of longitudinal reinforcement. This allows the engineer to increase the column capacity in the final design stage, as required, by adding reinforcement rather than by increasing the column size. This reduces the overall design time because the frame will not need to be reanalyzed. Columns with reinforcement ratios in the range of 1 percent to 2 percent are usually the most cost-effective.

The design chart presented in Figure L based on ACI Equation 10-2,' can be used for nonslender, tied columns loaded at an eccentridty of no more than about 10 percent of the overall thickness - in other words, columns with zero or small computed moments. Figure

1 provides quick estimates for gross area (Ag) of a column section required to support a factored axial load (Pu) within the reinforcement limits of Section 10.9, assuming Grade 60 reinforcemeat ify = 60 ksi).

Columns: Design for combined axial load and bending moments

Appredable bending moments can occur in columns because of unbalanced gravity loads and/or lateral forces. The ACI Design Handbook, the CRSI Design Handbook, and the PCA computer program PCACOL are a few of the many resources available to design columns for the combined effects of axial load and bending moments.

Engineers can create a simplified interaction diagram, such as the one depicted in Figure 2, by connecting straight lines between points corresponding to certain transition stages. The transition stages are as follows:

• Stage 1: Pure compression (no bending)

• Stage 2: Stress in reinforcement closest to tension face = 0 (fs = 0)

• Stage 3: Stress in reinforcement closest

i" 5.00




0: 4.00

to tension face = O.5Iy (fs = 0.5 Iy)

• Stage 4: (Balanced point) Stress in reinforcement dosest to tension face '" Iy (fs = Iy)

• Stage 5: Pure bending (no axial load)

The required lap splice depends on where the load combinations fall within the interaction diagram (see Section 12.17). For all load combinations falling within Zone 1, compression lap splices are allowed. In Zone 2, either a Class A or a Class B tension lap must be used, depending on the number of bars spliced at a section. ClassB tension lap splices are required when one or more load combinations fall within Zone 3.

Figure 3 can help determine the critical points on the interaction diagram for a rectangular, tied column with Grade 60 bars arranged symmetrically in the section. In order to simplify the equations for ~p n and <liMn for points 2 through 4, the stress (0.85fc) is not subtracted from the stress (fsi) in the bars located in the compression block. This makes the calculated values for ~Pn and <liMn larger than the exact values. For columns with reinforcement ratios

up to 3 percent, the difference between the computed values and exact values of ~Pn is at most 10 percent, with the difference much less than that for <liMn-

Columns: Design for biaxial bending

When designing for biaxial bending, a trial section for a square column can be obtained from an interaction diagram using the factored axial load (Pu) and the total factored moment (Mu = Mux + Muy) where Mux and Muy are the factored moments about the prindpal axes. The redprocalload method, which is described in Sections RI0.3.5 and RI0.3.6, is one of the simplified methods that can be used to check columns subjected to bending about both, prindpal axes simultaneously. The redprocal load relationship is as follows:


1 P~


1 P.





Pni = nominal axial load strength at given eccentridty along both axes,

conservative, the engineer usually only needs to adjust the percentage of reinforcement in order to obtain an adequate or more economical solution.

Transition stages on interaction

diagram .

- - -- -- - - -- -

Columns: Design for .slenderness effects

Sections 10.10 through 10.13 contain provisions for slenderness effects. According to Section 10.10, columns must be designed based on a second-order analysis or, when applicable, the magnified moment method of Sections 10.11 through 10.13. In the latter case, the provisions provide two methods to determine whether stories in a structure are nonsway or sway (Section 10.11.3). Figure 4 summarizes the code-prescribed criteria for consideration of slenderness effects.

Po" nominal axial load strength at zero eccentricity,

p 1lX .. nominal axial load strength at given eccentricity along x-axis, and

P ny = nominal axial load strength at given eccentricity along y-axis.

Nonsway-frame columns - For a nonsway rectangular column of size h that is bent in double curvature with equal, factored end moments (conservatively assuming that k .. 1),

Layer n, Au.

,W:..m._ ~.~ C

S.I Strain diagram


Layer I, AoJ Layer 1. Ao,

Tension face

Referto Fig. 2 lor Iocatlon of pointe on Interaction diagram. • Point 1: PYre compresSion (no bending)

tP!I{mlX] • O.BO+Aglo.a5f~ +Pg(lv -O.8Sf~)1 ACI Eq. (10-2)

• Points 2-4

+P."{C~lb+87~A.{I-~*)] (kips)

+M" ~{O.5C,d~h-~)+87~AI{I-C2*n-dl)]112 ("-kIps)

where c, • Q.85f~~'(Q 00°.003 3 )

e • -!.I1

c • O.OO3-et!

2 0.003

(1- ~ *):s: :~ - 0.6& to ensure that the slras8 In the bars ~ If " 80 ksl

0.85:.. ~ E 1.05 -O.OSI~ :.. 0.65 (Secl.; r. In kil)

• Polnt 5: Pure banding (no axial load)

Use lteratl~ procadure to determine +M ••

Simplified interaction diagram for rectangular, tied columns with symmetrical reinforcement (fy = 60 ksi)

the maximum unsupported column length (lu) that slenderness can be neglected is as follows (Section 10.l2.2):

u; (M1)

--::;; 34 -12 --

r 1\12

= 34 - 12(-1)

= 46 > 40, use 40 per ACI 318-99 Kt

_u_ S; 40 or L s 12h

O.3h u

Sway-frame columns - Beam stiffnesses at the top and bottom of a column in a sway frame can significantly impact the degree of slenderness. For compression members not braced against sidesway, effects of slenderness may be neglected when:

n; --< 22 r

For example, for a sway column with a column-to-beam stiffness ratio of'll = 1.0 at both ends (see Figure RI0.12.1); k = U and the effects of slenderness may be neglected when fu < sh. If the beam stiffness is reduced to onefifth of the column stiffness at each end, then k = 2.2, and.slenderness effects need not be considered when tu < 3h.

When slenderness effects must be considered, moments at column ends are to be magnified according to Sections 10.12 and 10.13 for nonsway and sway frames, respectively, or a second-order analysis must be performed. For columns subjected to biaxial bending, the moment about each axis shall be magnified separately. Columns are designed for combined effects of axial load and magnified bending moments utilizing the methods described above.

Columns: Reinforcement details

Details for column reinforcement can be found in the ACI Detailing Manual; the CRSI Reinforcing Bar Detailing Manual; and Chapter 5 of the PCA publication, Simplified Design of Concrete Buildings of Moderate Size and Height.

Walls: The basics

For buildings of low to moderate height, frame action alone is usually sufficient to provide adequate resistance to lateral loads. Since frame buildings depend primarily on the rigid-


zmw f' N8QIecI-..1H>ftSW8I' and....,._ bt»l: NegIecI-" 1H>ftSW8I'-

ZoM3: ConsIcIet __ --.._,nIer1llelllod ,_'11.12, 111.13) zmw 4: ConsIcIet -.. _Id«dior ~ (hcl. 10.11.5)

Column slenderness considerations

ity of the slab-column or beam-column joints, they tend to be costly in the 11- to' Id-story range in regions of high to moderate seismicity and in the 15- to 2o-story range elsewhere. High-rise frames often require structural walls for an efficient design that satisfies strength and drift requirements. .

Because concrete floor systems act as rigid horizontal diaphragms, lateral loads are distributed to lateral-force-resisting elements in - proportion to their rigidities. If possible, walls should be located such that torsional effects are minimized from: lateral loads.

Frequently, walls are located around elevators and stairs, so their lengths are dictated by the size of these openings. From a constructibility standpoint, a minimum thickness of six inches is required for a wail with a single layer of reinforcement, and 10 inches is required for a wall with two layers.

When walls are present in low-to-moderateheight buildings, frame-wall interaction can be neglected, typically because the walls are stiff enough to attract the majority of the lateral loads. This greatly reduces overall analysis and design time, and generally results in a nonsway frame. In contrast, frame-wall interaction must be considered for high-rise structures. In the upper stories of high-rise buildings, the frame must resist more than 100 percent of the story shear caused by lateral loads, so neglecting frame-wall interaction would not be conservative at these levels. Also, designs that consider . frame-wall interaction provide a more economical solution.

Walls: Design for axial load, with or without flexure

According to Section 14.2.2, walls must be designed in accordance with Sections 14.2 and 14.3, and either 14.4, 14.5, or 14.8. Section 14.4 contains the requirements for walls designed as compression members using the strength design provisions of Chapter 10, which are described above for columns. Any wall may be designed by this method, and no minimum wall thicknesses are prescribed. The empirical design method of Section 14.5 and the alternate design

method of Section 14.8 may only be used when various conditions are satisfied.

Walls in high-rise buildings are ordinarily designed in accordance with Section 14.4. Interaction diagrams can be obtained utilizing the resources discussed above for columns.

For buildings of low to moderate height, walls with uniform cross-sections and uniformly distributed vertical and horizontal reinforcement are usually the most cost-effective. For rec-

tangular walls containing uniformly distributed vertical reinforcement and subjected to an axial load Pu smaller than that producing balanced failure, the information in Figure 5 can be used to determine the nominal moment capadty of the walL This method should apply in a majority of cases since the axial loads are usually smalL

Walls: Design for shear

Special provisions for walls are contained in Section 11.10. The magnitude of the factored shear force (Vu) determines the amount of vertical and horizontal reinforcement for shear:

• For Vu ::; ~ Vc /2 - provide minimum reinforcement in accordance with Section 11.10.9 or Chapter 14,

• For ~ Vel 2 < Vu ::; ~ Vc - provide minimum reinforcement in accordance with Section 11.10.9,

• For Vu > ~ Vc - provide horizontal reinforcement in accordance with Equation 11-33

where ~ Vc is defined in Section 11.10.5. Tables 3 and 4 contain minimum reinforcement per Chapter 14 and Section 11.10.9, respectively.

When Vu > ~ V C' designing the required horizontal reinforcement in walls can be simplified by determining values of the design shear strength provided by the horizontal reinforcement (~ VJ According to Equation 11-33:

~Aird ¢Vs ;;;---

• Column face dimension rounded to the nearest inch.

Maximum size aggregate not larger than % minimum clear spacing between bars (Section 3.3.2).

The following equations can be used to determine the minimum column face dimension for other cover and tie sizes:

• For No.5 through No.8:

Minimum face dimension .. 2( cover + tie diameter) + ndb + l.5(n-l) + [(3+2db)cose - 0.586db - 3]

• For NO.9 through No. 11:

Minimum face dimension .. 2 (cover + tie diameter J + nab + l.5db( n-l) + 1.38db


n .. number of bars per face e .. arcsin O.2929,q,

1.5 + db

db .. diameter of longitudinal bars

Minimum face dimension (inches) of rectangular, tied columns with normal lap splices

(Sect. 7.6.3)

• Maximum size aggregate not larger than 'f. minimum clear spacing between

bars (Section 3:.3.2).

Minimum number of longitudinal bars is four when enclosed by circular ties and six when enclosed by spirals (Section 10.9.2).

Reinforcement ratios Pg are within limits of Section 10.9.1.

The following equation can be used to determine the maximum Dumber of bars n for other cover and tie or spiral sizes:

nc __ ~ ~1~~~ ~


0.51l- (cover + tie or spiral diameter) -1.5c\,


s .. 1.5 inches + db for No.5 through No.8 .. 1.5db + db .. z.sa, for No.9 through No.n

db = diameter of longitudinal bars

• * Applicable to drcular tied columns only.

* Min·As 1ft = 0.00 12( 12)h = 0.0 l44h for Grade 60, No.5 bars and smaller (Sect; 14.3.2)

** Min. As 1ft '" 0.0020( 12)h = 0.0240h for Grade 60, No.5 bars and smaller (Sect. 14.3.3)

Note: two layers of reinforcement are required for walls thicker than 10 in. (Sect. 14.3.4)

where Av is the area of horizontal shear reinforcement within a distance 52 andd = 0.81ur (Section 11.10.4). For example, for a wall reinforced with a single layer of Grade 60, No.4 bars spaced at 12 inches:

0.85 X 0.20 X 60 X (0.8 X 12fw)

$Vs' == .


::::; 8.2ew kips

Table 5 contains values of ~V5 per foot-length of wall for various horizontal bar sizes and spacings, Values of ~ Vc and the maximum allowable ~ Vn per Sections 11.10.5 and 11.10.3, respectively; are in Table 6.

Once the required ~ Vs = Vu - ~ Vs is computed, an engineer can easily choose a bar size and spacing that provides at least that amount of shear strength from Table 5.

Required vertical shear reinforcement is determined from Equation 11-34, which is given below:

Table 3: Minimum wall reinforcement (Vu:S; ~ Vo 12)

* Min. As 1ft = 0.002S( 12)h = O.OJh (Sect. I 1.1 0.8)

Note: two layers of reinforcement are required for walls thicker than 10 in. (Sect. 14.3.4)

Table 4: Minimum wall reinforcement ($ Ve 12 < Vu:S; $ Ve)

*Vall.les of cjlV s are for walls with a single layer of reinforcement.

Tabulated values can be doubled for walls With two layers.

Table 5: Shear strength (cjl Vs) provided by horizontal

shear reinforcement (fy = 60 ksi)" .

Pn = 0.0025 + 0.5 X

(2.5 - ~ ) (Ph - 0.0025)


When the wall height-to-length ratio (hw Ilw) is less than 0.5, the amount of vertical reinforcement is equal to the amount of horizontal reinforcement. When hw Ilw > 2.5, Table 4 can be used to determine the minimum amount of vertical reinforcement.

Maximum spacing of horizontal and vertical bars is given in Sections and, respectively.


This series of articles were developed to help engineers produce economical, non-prestressed concrete buildings efficiently as possible. All three articles are available on Structural Engineer'S Web site (www.gostructural.com). In addition, the PCA Web site (wwwportcement.org/buildings) contains developed design examples illustrating the use of the timesaving design methods presented here. _

* ~v c = ~2 Jf;;h(0.8fw) (Sect. 11.10.5)

** Max.~Vn = ~10~0.8lyJ (Sect. I LlO.3)

Note: multiply tabulated values by ~OOO for concrete compressive strengths other than 4,000 psi.

Table 6: $ Vc and Max ~ Vn for various wall thicknesses

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