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Lead Author: Siqi Huang


Steel can be a one of the most important architectural structure, because its high-intensity, light-weight, weldability and plasticity. That is the reason it can belong to the ideal material in the engineering. For example, there are three successful architecture: Centre National d’artetde Culture Georges Pompidou, Tour Eiffel and Lloyd building.



Even though steel is a good material in architecture, the defects of steel which are fire resistance, poor resistance of corrosion. And there are many reasons caused the steel structure can be failure. I have collected some examples of failures.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge :  This bridge is located in Tacoma, USA and was designed by engineer Moisseiff and it was completed in 1940. This was a suspension type of bridge with length of 7,392 feet. In the 7th November 1940, the collapse was happened, because the winds having speed of 42 miles per hour suddenly twisted the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.On investigating, the problem was caused by a strong wind. It swayed much beyond the permissible limits.Further more, the solid steel girders actually blocking the wind to pass through the bridge, it provided to strengthen a swirling motion of the bridge which ultimately lead to the collapse.

After this collapse, the engineer knew the reason of the collapse, and he started to build a new truss of the bridge which can allow the passage of wind.




One Meridian Plaza : It was a 39-story high-rise and 150m office building in Philadelphia, United States. It was designed by Vincent King & Associates and completed in 1972. On February 23, 1991, at about 8:23 PM, the 39-story steel frame office building suffered an extensive fire damage. The fire began on the 22nd floor of the building; the upper half of the structure became unstable. Based on this case, the fire resistance is really not strong enough, and because the diathermancy of steel is really good, it increased the spread of that fire.




Hartford coliseum: The Hartford Civic Center Coliseum collapsed in the early morning hours (4:19 A.M.) on January 18, 1978,the largest snow storm caused the collapse. Loading from the snow caused the 300ft by 360ft, the center fell 83 ft. in upon itself.



There were 4,455 members made up the roof truss system, where any number of them could have failed, and then the whole roof would be oscillation, the collapse would be happened.




The cross shape section has a much smaller radius of gyration , therefore does not provide very good resistance to buckling and twist under relatively low stresses.




According to the research that has been mentioned above. The failure will be existed in an every project; even it is only one tube. And although the project has used a good material and it has less defects than other material, like steel. But it still has some negative face that cannot be used in some ways. In balance, there are no bad or good materials, any material should be put into a right place to exert the most important value.


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