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Design of Foundations
and Earth-Retaining Structures

The final step in the design of a foundation is the structural analysis and design of its various parts.
Most modern substructures consist of reinforced-concrete
elements designed in accordance with the same fundamental
principles that apply to reinforced-concrete members in
general. Hence, in Part D it is presumed that the reader already possesses a thorough knowledge of statics, strength
of materials, and principles of reinforced-concrete design.
Only those aspects of design peculiar to foundation engineering will be discussed.
I n many instances, a t least preliminary structural designs of a foundation must be prepared to serve as a basis for
estimates of cost before the most suitable type of foundation can be selected. Therefore, the information in Part D
may often be required before all the steps outlined in Part C
can be carried out.
The designer is likely to have the impression that those
aspects of foundation engineering dealing with soils are
based on highly empirical procedures, whereas he may
regard the design of reinforced-concrete members as having
a more satisfactory theoretical basis. Yet, more mature
reflection on the origin of current procedures for analyzing
and designing concrete members leads to the conclusion that
modern design codes have comparatively little basis in
theory and have been derived to a considerable degree from
the results of tests in the laboratory and in the field. Without proper appreciation of this fact, the designer is likely
to lack a sense of proportion and to devote relatively too
little consideration to the characteristics of the soil deposits
at a site.


Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

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Arthur N. Talbot (1857-1942)

Teacher and research worker associated for over 50 years with the
University of Illinois and influential in the formation and development
of its Engineering Experiment Station. Beginning in 1903 he directed
a comprehensive investigation of reinforced concrete in all its structural forms. His investigation of footings, from 1908 to 1912, furnished
the basis for procedures of design and represented the only extensive
experimental work on this subject prior to 1944. (Photo courtesy of
Mrs. Warren G. Goodell.)


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Individual Column and Wall Footings

23.1. Basis for Design Procedure

The design of ordinary concentrically

loaded footings is based on the assumption
that the soil pressure against the bottom of
the footing is uniformly distributed. There
is much indirect evidence that this is a satisfactory and generally conservative assumption, although there have been few if any
reliable field observations of the actual distribution of contact pressures.
The rules for design of footings, like those
for all types of concrete members, have a
primarily empirical basis. Current methods
originated with an extensive series of tests
made by A. N. Talbot and reported in 1913.
Many of Talbots findings are still reflected
in the present code of the American Concrete Institute. The principal changes since
1913 take account of the increased strength
of concrete and reinforcing steel. For example, comprehensive investigations of
footing behavior carried out by F. E.
Richart at the University of Illinois in 1944
demonstrated that the allowable bond
stress could be increased for reinforcing bars
with more effective types of deformations.
This determination and other observations
from the Richart tests led to several re,visions
in the ACI Building Code of 1951; major
revisions were also made in 1963 and 1971.

Since that time, a systematic procedure of

updating has been in effect.
Procedures for the analysis and design of
concrete and steel structures evolved during
the 1960s from those based on elastic behavior (working-stress method) to those based
on plastic behavior (strength method). I n
the working-stress method, the stresses are
computed for the loads that can reasonably
be expected to act on the structure, and
these stresses are compared with allowable
stresses determined by applying a factor of
safety to the ultimate strength. O n the
other hand, in strength design, the margin
of safety is introduced by multiplying the
loads by load factors, and the forces, moments, and shears induced in the members
by the factored loads are compared with
the ultimate strength of the members. The
ultimate strengths may additionally be
modified by capacity factors that depend on
various considerations, such as workmanship.
The selection of loads and factors of
safety applicable to foundations has been
discussed in Art. 17.3. Further references
to this subject occur in other chapters of
Part C. The foundation engineer must deal
with stress-strain characteristics and ultimate strengths of soil and rock irrespective

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23/Individual Column and Wall Footings

of the method of design. In some instances

he may be concerned with safe pressures or


allowable pile loads under working loads

specified by a building code; at other times,
or perhaps even on the same project, he
may need to determine factors of safety
against ultimate strengths for exceptional
In most instances when strength procedures are used for the structural design of
footings and pile caps, it is necessary first
to proportion the foundation or to determine the number or arrangement of piles,
in accordance with procedures described in
Part C, for working loads without application of load factors. Thereafter, the load
factors must be applied and the soil pressures and pile reactions produced by the
factored loads must be calculated and used
for analysis.
Design plates throughout Part D illustrate basic principles of the structural design of certain types of foundations. The
strength method of design is used in most
of the illustrations.

usually one of shear around the loaded area.

If the primary failure of a square column
footing occurs as the result of shear, a section of concrete, flaring out downward
from the column, is punched from the rest
of the footing. Cracks form initially on the
under side of the footing while the stresses
in the steel are still low. As the shear increases, the cracks propagate upward toward the edges of the column, and the footing fails in diagonal tension before the
average stress in the tensile steel reaches the
yield point. If the shape of the footing is
rectangular, and the ratio of length to
width is large, the crack may extend across
the full width of the footing.
The preceding discussion of the modes of
failure of a footing indicates that the design
or stress analysis may appropriately be
based on the moment and shear at certain
critical sections where failure due to excessive strains in flexure or diagonal tension
may be initiated. The critical section for
shear is commonly located at a distance
d/2 from the face of the column, pedestal,
or wall, as shown in Fig. 23.1. Hence the
length of the section de is equal to the depth
of the footing plus the width of the column.
The total shear used in computing the unit
stress for a square footing is the sum of the
forces on area cdef in Fig. 23. la. If the footing is rectangular, the total shear on
cdefgh is used for critical section de (Fig.
2 3 . l b ) ; the shear stress on d'c' must also be
checked for the total shear on d'e'gh.
If the part of the structure resting on the
footing proper consists of reinforced concrete, the critical section for flexure and for
development length is ordinarily assumed
to extend across the footing at the face of the
column, pedestal, or wail, as shown by ab
and jk in Fig. 23.1. The stresses in the concrete and steel are computed from the forces
and moments acting on this section. For
footings under masonry walls, it is common
practice to investigate flexural stresses at a
section under the wall; usually the quarter
point is chosen. If the column load is transferred to the footing through a base plate, it
is reasonable, because of the flexibility of

23.2. Critical Sections

The procedure for designing footings, like

that for other reinforced-concrete members,
is related to the manner in which the member may fail. Experiments have indicated
that several different types of structural behavior may be exhibited before the ultimate strength of a footing is reached. At
some strength less than the ultimate, the
deformations and cracks in the footing are
likely to be so great that the footing is no
longer useful. This is referred to as the stage
of primary failure. The nature of the primary failure is sometimes difficult to determine because of the interdependence of
various factors.
If inadequate tensile reinforcement has
been provided a t the bottom of the footing,
the primary failure is evidenced by excessive yielding of the bars. On the other hand,
if the development length of the reinforcement is inadequate, the primary failure may
take the form of slipping of the bars. In
both these instances, the ultimate failure is

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

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Placing of Reinforcement



23.1. Critical sections for shear, flexure, and development of reinforcement in ( a ) square and ( b ) rectangular footings.

the plate, to use a section midway between

the edge of the plate and the face of the
The foregoing comments concerning
critical sections have made it apparent
that the stresses computed in an analysis of
a spread footing are only average values
found from total moments or shears acting
on sections many feet in extent. I t is impossible to predict, under field conditions, the
actual variation of these stresses along any
section of the footing. I t is fortunate, therefore, that footings, like other indeterminate
structures, have considerable ability to redistribute the moments and shears before
failure occurs at the sections that may be
23.3. Placing of Reinforcement
I n a wall footing the main reinforcement
is placed at right angles to the wall and
should be spaced uniformly. Furthermore,
some longitudinal reinforcement is desirable
to assist in bridging soft spots associated
with the almost certain variation in soil conditions along the length of the footing. A
steel percentage of 0.2 to 0.3 is adequate for
this purpose in all except unusual cases.
The reinforcement in square footings is
usually placed in directions parallel to the
edges. I n each direction the bars are com-

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

monly spaced uniformly. Likewise, the reinforcement in the long direction of rectangular footings is usually distributed uniformly across the full width. O n the other
hand, tests on rectangular footings have
demonstrated that the bars in the short
direction should be spaced more closely
near the center than at the outside. The
following equation is often used for determining the distribution of the steel:

in which





= number of bars placed in a

central width equal to the

short dimension of the footing
n f = total number of bars required by moment at the
critical section
S = ratio of long side to short
side of the footing

Special care is required to insure good

concrete at the bottom of footings, particularly if the bottom of the excavation is below
the water table. The excavation should be
dry when the concrete is placed. Moreover,
the reinforcement should be protected by
at least 3 in. of concrete.

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23/ Individual Column and Wall Footings

23.4. Depth of Spread Footings


I t is evident that the structural design of

footings is largely a matter of trial. Revisions
may be necessary as the design progresses.
Usually the depth determined by shear is
adequate to satisfy the requirements of
flexure. If shear on the critical section de
(Fig. 23.1) is assumed to control the depth
of a square footing, the following equation
is useful in selecting the depth d :

The constant C is evaluated from the net

soil pressure Q,, (lb/sq ft) and the shear stress
u c (lb/sq in.), for strength design, by the
expression C = q,, /576v,. In this expression
u, is adjusted by the appropriate capacity
factor. The net soil pressure q,,, effective in
producing shear and moment in the footing,
is the factored column load divided by the
footing area. The value of k is the ratio of
the least column or pedestal width a to the
footing width B ; thus k = a / B .


23.5. Procedure for Design and Use of

Minimum-Depth Curves
The curves of Fig. 23.2 have been developed from eq. 23.2 to give the designer a

- --Ji

I I\
- - I-- d
444f T

8 1

vc = sheor stress forstrenqth

desiqn (ib/ sq in.)

q,, = foctored n e t soil pressure

(lb/sq ft)

Rectunqu/ur footin92
Before entering curves,


find a'= 5 \r29=T o n d

let B'rep/oce 6 in
o / B a n d d/Brotios

FIGURE23.2. Curves for selecting depth of footing as determined by shear,

provided two-way behavior prevails.

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

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Isolated Column Footings on Piles

cussions of critical sections, placing of the

reinforcement, and design procedure. Both
footings were proportioned in DP 18-1.
The computations in this design plate indicate that the previously assumed depths of
the footings were several inches too large.
However, any revisions of the depths in
DP 18-1 would not be justified in view of
the negligible effect of depth on the required areas.
The design computations and allowable
stresses used in these examples are for the
most part in agreement with the strength
methods recommended in the ACI Building
Code adopted in 1971. One deviation, however, is that the minimum reinforcement
for flexure has been set conservatively at 0.5
per cent even though the yield strength of
the steel is 60 kips/sq in.


rapid indication of the minimum depth of

footing. If a depth equal to or greater than
that indicated by Fig. 23.2 is used, the
shear stress corresponding to the factored
column load will not exceed the ultimate
value. Although the curves have been constructed for square footings, they can be
utilized equally well for rectangular footings, as long as two-way behavior controls,
by using an adjusted value of B . The equation for making this adjustment is


B = B d 2 S


in which B is the adjusted width of the

footing, which replaces B in both the a / B
and d / B ratios, and S is the ratio L I B .
The complete design procedure, exclusive
of the juncture of the column and footing,
can be summarized as follows:
1. Proportion the area of the footing in
accordance with the methods given in
Part C.
2 . Apply load factors to the column loads
and compute the necessary ratios for
entering Fig. 23.2.
3. Select the trial depth from Fig. 23.2,
and check the unit shear stress. For
rectangular footings, the unit shear
stress corresponding to one-way action
across the footing should be checked
4. Select a trial moment arm for the tension-compression couple and calculate trial values of the total tensile force
T and the total compressive force c
due to moment.
5. Select the reinforcement based on the
above trial value of T.The amount
of reinforcement is often governed by
minimum values specified in codes for
flexure and for shrinkage stresses.
6 . Check the compressive stress block
and repeat steps 4 and 5 if greater accuracy is believed necessary.
7. Check the development length of the


The two footings designed in DP 23-1
illustrate the application of previous dis-

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

23.6. Isolated Column Footings on

Various types of piles were described in
Chap. 12. The selection of the proper type
of pile for given soil conditions was given
considerable attention in Parts B and C.
Reinforced-concrete footings are used
with all types of piles and serve as pile
caps as well as supports for the columns.

23.3. Concrete footing on piles, showing
critical section for design.

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23/Individual Column and Wall Footings



The piles commonly project 3 or 4 in. irito

the footing as shown in Fig. 23.3, and about
3 in. of concrete should separate the bottom
reinforcement and the tops of the piles.
In general, the procedure for designing
footings supported by piles closely parallels
that used for footings on soil. Any differences
are due to the concentrated reactions from
the piles instead of the relatively uniform
pressure from the soil. Although the locations of the piles in the field are likely to be
at least several inches from their theoretical

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

positions, it is common practice to take the

critical section for shear at the same location as for footings on soil. As shown in Fig.
23.3, a section de, located at a distance equal
to one half the depth of the footing from the
face of the column, is ordinarily used for
investigating diagonal tension. The critical
section ab for flexure and development
length may be assumed at the face of the
column as in the case of footings on soil.
If the center of a pile is one half-diameter
or more outside the critical section, the

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Isolated Column Footings on


DP 23 -/
Bui /ding
Sh Z o f t


F i i i a 9 Desi9p. Strucfurq/
fnferior :Cont'd from Sh./


entire reaction of the pile should be assumed

effective in producing moment or shear on
the section. The reaction from any pile
located one half-diameter or more inside
the section probably contributes very little
to the moment or shear; hence, it may be
considered as zero. For intermediate positions, a straight-line interpolation is commonly used to estimate the appropriate
portion of pile reaction for analysis and
design. By reference to Fig. 23.3, it becomes
apparent that the shear and moment on ab

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons

will be produced by two full pile reactions,

whereas the shear on de will be one pile
reaction (two halves), provided the centers
of the piles are more than half the pile
diameter from the points d and e. For example, if the distance x is only one fourth
of the pile diameter, three fourths of a pile
reaction are assumed to contribute to the
shear on section de.

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Pife fooiinp Design. Sf r u c t u r d

DL = 208 (L4)= 29i
L L = 290* ( L 7 ) =493=
784 = Pu
Base PL



Check compresswe sfress b/oc& af a b

c=7= 348

L 3 4 =/025Q.f".
A /02'=-

c 3.0"

no revisions in Asore needed

Check deveiopment ielrsft!

Jd *38(0179/ =3OO"ak

< t 3:Z"


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Isolated Column Footings on Piles



Principles of reinforced-concrete design,
not discussed in this chapter, are described
in standard texts on that subject. Among
these are
P. M. Ferguson (1973), Reinforced
Concrete Fundamentals. New York,
Wiley, 3rd ed., 750 pp.
G. Winter and A. H. Nilson (1973), Design of Concrete Structures. New York,
McGraw-Hill, 8th ed., 615 pp.
The Building Code of the American Concrete Institute is adopted by incorporation
into most building ordinances throughout
the United States and is kept current by
frequent revisions.


The selection of the allowable pile load

of 30 tons, arbitrarily used in DP 23-2, was
discussed in Chap. 12 and Part C. A section halfway between the face of the steel
column and the edge of the base plate has
been selected as critical for tension and development of the reinforcement. The section
determined in this manner is approximately
10 in. from the center line of the column.
The critical section for shear is located a
distance from the center line of 10 in. plus
half the footing depth.

Copyright 1974 John Wiley & Sons


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