A Study of Exterior Facades—Problems and Solutions

by Subodh K. Das, Kling-Lindquist Inc, Philadelphia, PA, USA,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Application and Performance of Structural Materials and Exterior Facades

Abstract: The quality of the exterior facades of a building is important to maintaining aesthetic image, protecting the interior environment from infiltration of heat, cold, moisture, wind, and noise, and resisting all types of external forces and environmental pollution. Reports of exterior facade failures have increased from about 20 percent of all court cases against architects in 1970 to about 33 percent in 1980. This may be the result of introducing new facade materials, using high-strength steel and concrete (resulting in larger deformation, deflection, and vibration), and poor workmanship. Basic causes of failure have been identified as ignorance, carelessness, greed and negligence. Exterior walls may be grouped into three types of assemblies: unit assemblies, grid assemblies and built-up assemblies. Problems with each type of wall assembly have been discussed. Absence of clear definition of design responsibility is the basic problem with the exterior facades. Most expensive failures of exterior facades have resulted from structural deficiencies. In many cases the actual wind loads against exterior walls have been much higher than the design loads. Proper estimates of wind load by wind tunnel tests is helpful. ANSI A58. 1-1982 should be taken as the minimum requirement for wind load. Proper transfer of both gravity and lateral loads from exterior facades to the building structure is essential for safety.

Subject Headings: Wind loads | Building envelope | Lateral loads | Failure analysis | Walls | Load factors | Structural safety | Structural failures

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