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for the
Westin Resort
Hotel, part 1:
John Hanlon,
Charles W. Dolan,
David Figurski, Jiangang Deng,
and J. Gregory Dolan

Rocky Mountain Prestress Corp. proposed an alternative

design for the construction of a nine-story, flat-slab build-
ing in Avon, Colo., using a total–precast concrete building
structural system. The building system varies significantly
from the systems evaluated in the Precast Seismic Struc-
tural Systems (PRESSS) program and required supplemen-
tary experimental evaluation to demonstrate performance.1
This system consisted of five basic elements: a precast
Editor’s quick points concrete stair/elevator core; a 10-in.-deep × 4-ft-wide
(250 mm × 1.2 m), prestressed concrete beam-slab unit; a
n  This research and development effort examines the design and 10-in.-deep, prestressed concrete, rib-slab floor element; a
performance of elements required for the successful con- 10-in.-thick, variable-width beam slab; and an integrated
struction of a precast concrete building system that emulates precast concrete column and column capital.
flat-slab construction.
The development of an integrated column capital allowed
n  The research confirmed the flexural and connection capacity each column to be erected independently and the beam
of the rib slab, the flexural and shear capacity of the precast slabs and rib slabs to be installed on the column capital.
concrete column capital, and the moment-resisting capacity of This design allows the precast concrete building system to
the precast concrete column connection. emulate post-tensioned, flat-slab construction. The ability
to provide a precast concrete column capital of varying
n  A lack of stiffness with the column-to-column connection was dimensions allows the design to be directly substituted for
found, and solutions were developed for this connection. a flat-slab project and for designers to incorporate balco-

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Column and capital Rib slab
Beam slab Building perimeter

Figure 1. This schematic plan shows a precast concrete building using the components described in this paper.

Figure 2. A load test of a rib-slab panel with dapped ends was conducted at the Rocky Mountain Prestress plant in Denver, Colo.

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 85

nies, recesses, and variable perimeters (Fig. 1). “Precast
Concrete Building System Components for the Westin
Resort Hotel, Part 2: Design and Construction” will discuss
the implementation of the system.

Initial research and development examined the beam-slab

and rib-slab units. The beam slab was a 10-in.-deep × 4-ft-
wide (250 mm × 1.2 m), solid prestressed concrete slab Coupler
that connected to the column capital with a Cazaly hanger.2
The hanger provided both the vertical reaction and, when Lock nut
field welded, a construction diaphragm connection.

The rib slab is a modified prestressed concrete double-tee

shape with a 2-in.-thick (50 mm) concrete slab and 8-in.-
deep × 15-in.-wide (200 mm × 380 mm) ribs, for a total
depth of 10 in. Tests to 100% of the ultimate design load
capacity on the rib slab with a dapped end connection
established for the Avon project confirmed the feasibility
of the basic floor system (Fig. 2). The hanger replaced the
dapped end because it uses the full section depth, eliminates
the need for bearing ledges, provides the diaphragm tie, and
simplifies production. The hanger connection was proof
tested to over 100% of the ultimate design load. A cast-in-
place concrete topping covered the hangers and the welded-
wire reinforcement, which provides the final diaphragm.

The critical element in the building system is the integrated

column-capital unit. This research project provided proof
of the concept for this structural system and identified con-
struction or structural issues needing further development.

The test program demonstrated the fundamental behavior Figure 3. The photo shows the initial column-to-column connection detail.
of the precast concrete structural system and its compo-
nents, verified erection methodologies, and confirmed that ends. The three elements stacked together demonstrated that a
the column-capital connection was adequate for the proj- multipiece system could be assembled as designed. Concerns
ect. Stiffness deficiencies in the initial match-cast column remained about the stiffness of the connection and the feasibility
connection were corrected prior to production. of field assembly of the connection with an eccentric slab load.

Column connection Full-scale test specimen

The column-to-column connection required a full- or To evaluate the full-scale installation and strength of
partial-moment-resisting detail that could be quickly the column-capital element, an L-shaped test frame was
installed in the field. Full- or partial-moment-carrying fabricated and a full-sized column-capital element and a
capacity allowed the column elements to be placed rapidly match-cast column stub extension were cast (Fig. 4). The
with minimum time on the crane hook and to remain stable test frame had a reaction wall on the west side of the col-
for the installation of the beam slabs with little or no brac- umn to apply horizontal loads. The column test specimen
ing. The initial design placed four Grade 75 (517 MPa) was cast with a 27 in. (685 mm) capital extension beyond
no. 10 (32M) Dywidag threaded bars in each corner of the the face of the column on the west side and a 51 in. (1.3 m)
column. The bars were aligned in the form, connected with extension on the east side. The column was cast with a 2 ft
a threaded coupler, and match cast to the adjacent piece. (0.6 m) stub extension to replicate field installation detail
After casting, the coupler was backed off and the elements (Fig. 5). The east capital loading points were offset from
were separated. This procedure ensured that the threaded the theoretical location by ±1 in. (±25 mm) in each direc-
ends aligned in the field and that the field connection was tion to generate a small amount of torsion in the capital.
completed by rethreading the couplers (Fig. 3). This torsion replicated possible eccentric load effects from
beam-slab connections.
A lock nut on either side of the coupler secured the connec-
tion. A steel bearing plate assisted alignment of the column The column and stub were match cast with full-length,

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Eccentric length

3 ft 6 ft

2 ft 6 in. 2 ft 6 in. 6 in.

1 ft
1 ft

1 ft
1 ft
Four 3-in.-diameter PVC pipe sleeve Hydraulic cylinders
12 in. 8 in.


145 ksi thread bar
6 ft

2 ft

Test frame base

Figure 4. This schematic illustrates the test setup for the full-scale test program. Note: PVC = polyvinyl chloride. 1 in. = 25.4 mm; 1 ft = 0.305 m; 1 ksi = 6.895 MPa.

assembled threaded bars and couplers installed at the Field erection of eccentrically
splice location. After the combined column was removed loaded specimen
from the form, the bar couplers were backed away from
the splice location. The stub and the column were then The offset slab construction allowed assessment of erec-
separated, and the stub was installed in the test frame and tion issues associated with an eccentric element. The first
grouted in place. field test was to lift the piece without damaging the ex-
tended splice bars, place the unit, and tighten the connec-

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 87

tors. A hand-powered come-along was attached to one of
the lifting loops and tightened to the crane hook. Tighten-
ing the come-along allowed the eccentricity to be adjusted
so that the column would hang vertically (Fig. 6).

The couplers on the compression side of the connection

engaged almost immediately. However, the eccentric-
ity created a small separation on the tension side of the
connection that was larger than the couplers could accom-
modate. The piece was lifted off the connection, and the
vertical alignment was corrected with the come-along.
With the vertical alignment corrected, the couplers were
tightened (Fig. 7). Once the procedure was established, the
time for setting and coupler connection of the piece was
about 10 minutes.

When the column capital was released from the crane, the
piece tilted toward the eccentrically loaded east side due to
the tolerance of 1/16 in. to 1/8 in. (1.5 mm to 3.0 mm) in the
coupler threads. The eccentric load compressed one side
and stressed the other side in tension, creating a connection
with an opening on the tension (west) side of the match-
cast joint. Tightening the coupler and the lock nuts did not
reduce the gap. As the lock nuts were tightened, the bars
were pulled against the threads in the coupler and the bars
extended from the connector. This had the effect of lifting
the columns apart and increasing the tilt. The design an-
ticipated this behavior, but the magnitude of the deflection
was larger than predicted.
Figure 5. Threaded bars apply loads to the full-scale test specimen.

Figure 6. The come-along positions the eccentric column-capital assembly as it is being lifted onto the test frame.

88 S pri n g 2 0 0 9 | PCI Journal

Figure 7. Workers complete the initial column connection.

Table 1. Predicted column-capital strength

Predicted nominal shear capacity

Condition ACI equation
Vn , kip

⎡ ⎛ d⎞ ⎤
Total punching shear (ACI 318-05, section 11-12) Vn = 4 fc' ⎢4 ⎜ bc + ⎟ d ⎥ 287
⎣ ⎝ 2⎠ ⎦

Shear-flexure 2 fc' (ACI 318-05, Eq. [11-3]) Vn = 2 fc' bd 63

Shear-flexure 2 fc' plus stirrups (ACI 318-05, Eq. [11-3] d

Vn = 2 fc' bd + Av f y 100
and Eq. [11-15]) s

Shear-flexure 3.5 fc' plus stirrups (ACI 318-05, Eq. d

Vn = 3.5 fc' bd + Av f y 148
[11-5] and Eq. [11-15]) s

Flexure n.a. 119

Failure load n.a. 115

Predicted failure load/predicted flexure load n.a. 0.97

Notes: Av = area of shear reinforcement = 0.40 in.2; b = width of compression face of member = 48 in.; bc = cross-sectional dimension of column core
measured center to center of outer legs of the transverse reinforcement = 18 in.; d = distance from extreme compression fiber to centroid of longitudi-
nal tension reinforcement = 9.3 in.; fc = specified compressive strength of concrete = 5000 psi; fy = specified yield strength of reinforcement; n.a. =
not applicable; s = center-to-center spacing of shear reinforcement = 8 in.; Vn = nominal shear strength. 1 in. = 25.4 mm; 1 kip = 4.45kN;
1 ksi = 6.895 MPa.

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 89

A threaded bar and horizontal jack were installed at the tute (ACI) Building Code Requirements for Structural
top of the column to pull the piece into vertical alignment Concrete (ACI 318-05) and Commentary (ACI 318R-05)3
(Fig. 4). Although this reduced the gap at the match-cast would be applicable for the design, and explore the effects
interface, it did not allow the connectors to significantly of unbalanced moment on the column-capital element.
tighten the bars. Five strength predictions were made for the specimen:

Overall, the authors concluded from the erection trial that • punching shear
the match-cast units could be erected efficiently and that
the threaded connectors would align and could be tight- • shear and flexure using a concrete capacity of 2 f c' ,
ened. The column was stable and safe. However, a method where f c' is the compressive strength of concrete
of tightening the connection was needed for effective mo-
ment transfer, especially for multistory erection. • shear and flexure using 2 f c' plus no. 4 (13M) stir-
rups at 8 in. (200 mm) on center
Column-capital strength
and performance • shear and flexure using a variable Vc for nominal shear
strength provided by the concrete according to the
The largest ultimate load applied to the column-capital unit ACI 318-05 Eq. (11-5) plus no. 4 (13M) stirrups
was 80 kip (360 kN) for the Avon project. A shear load
of 100 kip (450 kN) at the loading points was tested to • flexural capacity
validate the design methodology and details. This allowed
validation for future projects with longer spans or higher Table 1 lists the equations, nominal-strength predictions,
loads. and results. Assuming that the higher shear capacity of
option 4 was used, the predicted nominal capacity of the
The objectives of the column-capital test were to experi- column capital was 118 kip (525 kN), and the failure mode
mentally confirm the strength of the capital, verify that was predicted to be flexure.
flexure—not shear behavior—limits performance, confirm
which shear equation from the American Concrete Insti- A beam slab is not always placed symmetrical on the

Figure 8. The basket truck is used to observe the cracking on the column capital.

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4000 50
3500 45

Lateral load, kip

Moment, kip-in.

2500 30
2000 25
1500 20
500 5
0 0
0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60
Deflection, in.

Figure 9. The load-deflection curve for east capital shows the stiffness of the slab connection. Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm; 1 kip = 4.45 kN.

column capital. Therefore, one objective of the test was to (130 kN). The initial cracks were less than 0.002 in.
apply an eccentric load to the column-capital assembly. An (0.05 mm) wide. The crack width remained less than
initial 25 kip (110 kN) load was applied on the west side 0.010 in. (0.25 mm) throughout the service-level-load range
of the specimen, simulating the eccentrically loaded slabs. (Fig. 9).
The load was locked off, and the hydraulic cylinders were
attached to pressure gauges. The west bars became pas- First yielding of the reinforcement was noticed at about
sive restraints as the full moment load was applied to the 95 kip (420 kN). The crack pattern indicated the initial
east side of the specimen (Fig. 8). The passive, preloaded formation of secondary compression failure at about
hydraulic cylinders also served as load cells during testing. 100 kip (450 kN) (Fig. 10). At this point the dial gauges
Cylinders and pressure gauges were calibrated before and were removed. The specimen failed at about 115 kip
after the testing. (509 kN) or 2657 kip-in. (298 kN-m) of moment, which
was within 3% of the predicted flexural strength. There
Dial gauges were mounted on the threaded bars to measure was no indication of shear failure in the specimen.
deflection. The deflection readings were corrected for axial
lengthening of the bars during loading. An unloaded, longi- At failure of the east capital, the west-capital load was carrying
tudinal threaded bar was placed through the column top and 75 kip (330 kN), corresponding to a moment of 1548 kip-in.
the test frame for safety in the event that the column suddenly (173 kN-m). An unbalanced moment of 1109 kip-in.
failed. It remained unloaded for the duration of the test. (124 kN-m) was carried by the column, which was about
40% of the theoretical moment capacity of the column.
First cracking of the capital was noticed at a load of 28.9 kip Thus, even with the large coupler tolerance, the joint was
(129 kN) versus the predicted cracking load of 29.2 kip functionally capable of carrying the applied moment.

Side of capital Top of capital

Figure 10. The photo illustrates the crack pattern on the column capital near the nominal capacity.

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 91


Top displacement, in.

0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80


Number of cycles

Figure 11. This cyclic sequence was used to develop the column lateral loading. Note: 1 in. = 2.54 mm.

West East
Base moment, kip-in.

-3.00 -2.00 -1.00 -10000.00 1.00 2.00 3.00

Top displacement, in.

Figure 12. This is an illustration of the cyclic load-deflection history of the column connection. Note: 1 in. = 2.54 mm; 1 kip = 4.45 kN.

Conclusions from the critical design condition, and no indication of punching

column-capital test shear was detected. The eccentric torsional effects were
The capital section was stiff, with less than 0.3 in.
(7.6 mm) of vertical deflection under service load. This de- Column test program
flection includes the effects of rotation by the column-cap- and observations
ital and residual torsional effects. The capital failure was
ductile, with warning of imminent failure demonstrated by The original intent of the column connection test was to
ample deflection and cracking. The shear capacity exceed- subject the column to a series of reversible loads up to 3%
ed the flexural capacity, demonstrating that the details used drift, consistent with the recommendations of ACI’s report
in the specimen were adequate. ITG-1.14 for seismic applications. The tolerance of the
column-to-column connection suggested that taking full
ACI 318-05 Eq. (11-5) has a maximum limit of concrete hysteresis data would not provide useful information be-
stress of 3.5 f c' psi (0.3 f c' MPa), which was the limit- cause the loops would close during the rocking of the joint.
ing condition for this specimen. Designing to this higher However, cycling the column through a series of reversible
limit was conservative for this application. However, the loads would provide information on the strength of the
flexure failure precluded knowing the exact shear capacity. column, the ability of the joint to transfer moment, and the
A design based on 2 f c' psi (0.33 f c' MPa) plus the stir- relative stiffness of the connection. Figure 11 gives the ap-
rup contribution may be more appropriate for final design plied cyclic loading pattern for testing. The lateral load at
if longer shear spans are used. Punching shear was not a the top of the column was applied by alternately stressing

92 S pri n g 2 0 0 9 | PCI Journal

the two hydraulic cylinders and the threaded bar/pipe load-
ing mechanism shown on top of the column in Fig. 4.

Figure 12 shows the loads corresponding to the deflection

at the end of each cycle. Only the final load for each cycle
was recorded except for the final east push, for which
several intermediate data points were recorded. Figure 12
indicates that the inability to tighten the connection af-
fected the relative stiffness.

The push in the west direction resulted in deflections nearly

twice those of the east direction for comparable loads. This
reflected the rocking that closed the joint, followed by an
increase in load once the joint tightened. The column rein-
forcement did not yield in the west direction. The column
steel yielded at about 2.2% drift, or 2 in. (50 mm) deflec-
tion, in the east direction. The final push in the east direction
showed that the initial column movement was followed by
joint tightening at about 1.0 in. (25 mm) horizontal deflec-
tion. The column reinforcement yielded when the load was
increased to produce a 1.4 in. (35 mm) deflection.

Following yield, the reaction became nonlinear. The test

was stopped at 3 in. (150 mm) top deflection, or about
3.3% drift. At 3.3% drift, the base moment was
3026 kip-in. (339 kN-m) versus a predicted capacity of
2700 kip-in. (303 kN-m) with no axial load. The moment
at the level of the connection was 2220 kip-in. (249 kN-m),
and damage to the column face was evident. The test
developed a bending load that exceeded the theoretical
nominal capacity of the column. The dead load of the col-
Figure 13. The column crack pattern corresponds to a 2 in. (50 mm) top displace- umn was not included in the calculations and would have a
slight effect in increasing the predicted moment capacity.

Figure 14. A ½ in. lateral slip in the column-to-column joint occurred at a top deflection of 1.75 in. Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm.

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 93

Figure 15. The final field column-to-column connection places the connection at the midface of the column and no. 11 (36M) mild-steel reinforcing bars welded to the
¾-in.-thick (19 mm) steel plate.

An assessment of the cracks in the column showed a stiffness for erection. Shear restraint was included to limit
uniformly distributed crack pattern above and below the the lateral movement in the joint.
connection on the west face of the column (Fig. 13). Even
with the loose connectors, the moment connection was Final construction details
fully developed on both sides of the joint.
The beam slab, rib slab, hanger, and column capital were
Damage was also visible around the connection blockouts. implemented as tested. The column connection was modi-
The damage was caused by lateral strain in the connectors fied by partially developing four no. 11 (36M) mild-steel
and the stress concentration due to connectors bearing on reinforcing bars and using bolted connections located at
the steel plates at the bottom of the blockout. middepth of the column face (Fig. 15). The connection
was designed to provide sufficient stiffness and strength
Once the top deflection reached 1.75 in. (44 mm), a lateral for unbalanced erection and construction loads without
slip was observed. The slip varied from about 1/4 in. the need for bracing on interior columns. In addition to
(6 mm) at a top deflection of 1.75 in. (44 mm) to nearly adequate moment capacity, the revised detail provided a
/8 in. (22 mm) at 3 in. (150 mm) of top displacement. superior concrete detail at the column corner. The change
Figure 14 shows the lateral slip at the third cycle at a top in column details did not affect the column capital
deflection of 1.75 in. (44 mm). The production design performance.
incorporates an internal shear key to control the lateral slip.
Column test conclusions
and recommendations This research was sponsored by Rocky Mountain Pre-
stress. A patent application has been submitted for the
The column test successfully demonstrated that the nomi- building system described in this paper.
nal capacity of the section could be developed and that the
connection successfully transferred the moment to the stub
section below. The tolerance of the connection required
resolution prior to construction to provide sufficient lateral

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1. Priestly, M. J. N. 1991. Overview of PRESSS Re-

search Program. PCI Journal, V. 36, No. 4 (July–
August): pp. 50–57.

2. PCI Industry Handbook Committee. 2004. PCI De-

sign Handbook: Precast and Prestressed Concrete.
6th ed. Chicago, IL: PCI.

3. American Concrete Institute (ACI) Committee 318.

2005. Building Code Requirements for Structural
Concrete (ACI 318-05) and Commentary (ACI 318R-
05). Farmington Hills, MI: ACI.

4. ACI Innovative Task Group 1.1. 2003. Special Hy-

brid Moment Frames Composed of Discretely Jointed
Precast and Post-tensioned Concrete Members (T1.2-
03) and Commentary (T1.2R-03). Farmington Hills,


Av = area of shear reinforcement

b = width of compression face of member

bc = cross-sectional dimension of column core measured

center to center of outer legs of the transverse

d = distance from extreme compression fiber to centroid

of longitudinal tension reinforcement

f c' = specified compressive strength of concrete

s = center-to-center spacing of shear reinforcement

Vc = nominal shear strength provided by the concrete

Vn = nominal shear strength

PCI Journal | S p r i n g 2009 95

About the authors Synopsis
John Hanlon is vice president of This research and development effort examines the
engineering at Rocky Mountain design and performance of elements required for
Prestress in Denver, Colo., and is successful construction of a precast concrete build-
the innovator of the precast ing system that emulates flat-slab construction. The
concrete building system research focused on the development and testing of
presented in this research. the rib slab, the column connection, and the precast
concrete column capital.
Charles W. Dolan, FPCI, is the H.
T. Person Professor of Engineer- The research confirmed the flexural and connec-
ing at the University of Wyoming tion capacity of the rib slab, the flexural and shear
in Laramie, Wyo., and served as capacity of the precast concrete column capital, and
chair of subcommittee G, Precast the moment-resisting capacity of the precast concrete
and Prestressed Concrete, of ACI column connection. The test program identified a lack
Committee 318, Building Code of stiffness with the column-to-column connection
for Concrete Structures. and developed solutions for this connection.

David Figurski is production Keywords

supervisor at Rocky Mountain
Prestress in Denver. He received Building, capital, column, connection, emulative de-
his master’s degree at the sign, flat slab, hanger, rib slab, system, testing.
University of Texas in alkali-
silica reactions in concrete and Review policy
has been at Rocky Mountain
Prestress for seven years. This paper was reviewed in accordance with the
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s peer-review
Jiangang Deng is a graduate process.
research assistant at the Univer-
sity of Wyoming, where he is Reader comments
researching the durability of
epoxy-bonded, fiber-reinforced- Please address any reader comments to PCI Journal
polymer-strengthened structures. editor-in-chief Emily Lorenz at or
Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, c/o PCI Journal,
J. Gregory Dolan was an under- 209 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60606. J
graduate research assistant at the
University of Wyoming.

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