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Assessment of Slab Prestressing against Foundations along the

Superstructure Joint
F. Kope, M.Sc., M. ASCE, AICPS
Antiseismic Structural Engineering, Bucuresti, Romania
kope@antiseismic.com
C. Onofrei, M.Sc., M. AISC, AICPS
Antiseismic Structural Engineering, Bucuresti, Romania
onofrei@antiseismic.com
P. Olteanu, M.Sc., M. AICPS
Antiseismic Structural Engineering, Bucuresti, Romania
paul@antiseismic.com
Abstract
This paper addresses the slab prestressing influence against the base columns and their foundations along the
structural joint. This situation is usually encountered in structures with no structural joint in the foundation but
only the superstructure, and the slabs are done using prestressed concrete. Two models were considered in
order to assess this influence. The first one is employed for a general analysis of the structure (several single
storey frames chained together) in order to obtain the displacement based loadings, and the second one is used
for the local analysis of the foundation and its tributary columns using the imposed displacement determined
during the previous phase.

Introduction
Two models were developed in order to assess this influence.
1.

2.

The first model was employed to evaluate the overall behaviour of a complete chain of R/C frames
of adjacent building divisions along the same prestressing path. Each frame consists of the crossshape columns and their tributary beams acting jointly with afferent slab. The cross-sectional area of
the beam was calculated with respect to half of each adjacent span (considered only for the
prestressing deformation purpose) while its flexural stiffness was included in the model using only the
active flange of the slab available on both sides of the concrete beam (roughly considered equal to
quarter of span).
a.

The concrete beams and columns were included in the model using beam elements having
restrained the out of plane associated degrees of freedom;

b.

The soil structure interaction was considered by means of uncoupled spring elements
applied for each of the in-plane associated degree of freedom (two translations and one
rotation). The stiffnesses of these springs were calculated based on references [1] and [2].

c.

The elasticity modulus for concrete beams and columns was considered E=30000MPa.

d.

Two reciprocal counteracting forces were applied at both ends of each slab segment. These
forces render the presstresing action.

The second model represents a local analysis of a joint T-shaped column and its corresponding
footing. The purpose of this model was to evaluate the stress state and actual deflections developed
in the column and foundation.
a.

The beam connection was neglected due to its lower influence upon column behaviour
(small beam-to-column stiffness ratio)

b.

Only a quarter of the assembly (meaning half of a joint T-shape column and half of the
common foundation) was effectively included in the model along with appropriate
boundary conditions, this approach was possible due to symmetric loading (imposed

displacements applied to the top of the columns concurrently in opposite directions) and
geometrical conditions.
c.

The load was applied by means of imposed displacement of 2.65mm to all column nodes
located at slab level. The value of imposed displacement was taken from the analysis of the
first model.
The model was generated using 8-nodes solid elements mapped to both column and
foundation concrete while the reinforcement was modelled using 2-node truss elements.

d.

The response of column and foundation were obtained using a nonlinear concrete model
(which is a hypoelastic model based on a nonlinear uniaxial stress-strain relation that is
generalized to take biaxial and triaxial stress conditions into account and that it models
tensile failure (i.e. cracking) and compression failure (i.e. crushing) by failure envelopes). The
smeared crack approach was adopted for tensile failure modelling, i.e. the cracked concrete
is treated as a continuum. Moreover, the post-failure behaviour including strain-softening
conditions is modelled.

e.

The behaviour of the reinforcement was obtained by applying a bilinear plastic material with
von Mises yield condition.

f.

The soil structure interaction was included in the model through contact analysis performed
against a simplified assumed bounding media.

g.

The analysis was done using autostep incremental conditions. The selfweight of the
structure was applied prior to starting the prestressing through imposed displacement, in
order to achieve a proper phasing of the loading conditions.

h.

This second model was developed using SOLVIA [4] computer program (Swedish version
of Automatic Dynamic Incremental Nonlinear Analysis ADINA), which can be employed
very effective for nonlinear contact and physical analyses.

One important simplification considered in developing of both models was the assumption that under the
prescribed load level the soil is expected to behave almost linear-elastic which obviously is not entirely true
but for the purpose of this analysis is considered sufficiently accurate (the state of the art practice requires to
model the nonlinear properties of the foundation element to reflect the possibility of soil yielding, sliding or
uplift as well as inelastic structural behaviour where appropriate).
The first model was employed in a simple parametric analysis, whose purpose was to determine the influence
of variable soil stiffness on the distribution of deflections of structure subjected to the post-tensioning forces.
This investigation was necessary to establish if there is any situation that might lead to the relaxation of
prestressing induced forces in the joint column-foundation system.
We expect the response of soil mainly in the range of low strains (because the soil deformations induced by
prestressing are very low) therefore a larger shear modulus is expected. However, this analysis treats both the
case of small and large soil strains by considering their associated shear modulus.
The uncoupled spring stiffnesses are calculated using the following equations as per ASCE-FEMA356 [1]:
Translation along x-axis K x,sur =

Translation along y-axis K y,sur =

GB

3.4

GB L
3.4
2 B

0.65

+ 1.2

0.65

+ 0.4

L
+ 0.8
B

(1)

(2)

Translation along z-axis K z,sur =

GB
L
1.55
1
B

Rocking about x-axis K xx,surface =

0.75

+ 0.8

GB3 L

0.4 + 0.1

1 B

(4)

+ 0.034

(5)

2.45

L
Rocking about z-axis K zz,surface = GB3 0.53 + 0.51
B

(6)

Rocking about y-axis K yy,surface =

GB3
L
0.47
1
B

(3)

2.4

Correction factors for embedment:


0.4

D
hd(B + L)
Translation along x-axis x = 1 + 0.21

1 + 1.6

B
BL2

(7)

Translation along y-axis y = x

(8)

2/3
1 D
B

d(B + L)
Translation along z-axis z = 1 +
2 + 2.6 1 + 0.32

L
BL
21 B

(9)

Rocking about x-axis xx = 1 + 2.5

d
Rocking about y-axis yy = 1 + 1.4
L

d 2d d
1 +
B
B D

0.6

0.2

1.9
0.6

d d
1.5 + 3.7
L D

B d
Rocking about z-axis zz = 1 + 2.6 1 +
L B

(10)

(11)

0.9

(12)

d = height of effective sidewall contact (may be less than total foundation height)
h = depth to centroid of effective sidewall contact

For each degree of freedom: K emb = K sur

(13)

Results
The following Tables presents the results for analyses conducted on model 1

Figure 1. Foundation type and node identification


Table 1. Soil spring parameters

Rock

Stiff
soil

Soft soil

Type of
soil

Springs

Units

F1
Inner foundation

F2
Joint
foundation

F3
Perimeter
foundation

Data for soil

kx

[tf/m]

13200

13800

13700

11000

kz

[tf/m]

11900

12700

12500

4400

[tf m/rad]

173800

205400

199300

0.25

kx

[tf/m]

39500

41500

41100

33000

kz

[tf/m]

35700

38100

37400

13200

[tf m/rad]

521300

616000

598000

0.25

kx

[tf/m]

1315400

1384700

1368400

1100000

kz

[tf/m]

1188500

1269000

1247400

440000

[tf m/rad]

17375600

20541110

1993370

0.25

Table 2. Model 1 results


Analysis
/Soil type
Validation
/Soft soil 2)
Soft soil 3)
Stiff soil 3)
Rock 3)
NOTE:
1.
2.
3.

Results

Units

Node a

Node b

Node c

Node d

Displ. 1)

[mm]

-0.16/0/-0.16

-6.06/-2.48/-3.58

Shear F

[tf]

4.53

34.0

Displ. 1)

[mm]

2/0/2

-3.57/ -0.92/-2.65

-0.27/-0.91/-0.67

-6.16/-2.52/-3.64

Shear F.

[tf]

140,0

122,0

109,0

35,0

Displ. 1)

[mm]

2.43/0/2.43

-2.93/-0.32/-2.61

1.34/-0.30/1.64

-4.33/-1.47/-2.86

Shear F.

[tf]

170

156,5

143,6

60,3

Displ. 1)

[mm]

2.45

-.45

2.44

-2.47

Shear F.

[tf]

172

172

172

168

displacement values are provided using the following format:


(absolute displacement on top of column) / (absolute displacement at foundation level) / (relative displacement)
only the one division is prestressed
all divisions are subject to prestressing forces. only the soil type differs

Z
X

Figure 2. Deflected shape and Shear Forces on columns for soft soil analysis. one divisions
prestressed

Z
X

Z
X

Figure 3. Deflected shape and Shear Forces on columns for soft soil analysis. all divisions prestressed

Z
X

Figure 4. Displacements and Shear Forces on columns for stiff soil analysis

Z
X

Figure 5. Displacements and Shear Forces on columns for rock soil analysis

The analysis has shown that the maximum relative top deflection of the joint column remains almost
unchanged irrespective of soil conditions i.e. ~2.6mm. This displacement is used as input data for the second
model employed to evaluate the stress state within the joint column-foundation system.

The second model was also built for a simple nonlinear analysis of local response of the joint columnfoundation-soil system. The purpose was to determine the actual distribution of sectional forces within
foundation/column and also the influence of appropriate modelling of distributed soil action upon foundation
(note that the first model was set up for a uncoupled, single node model of soil; the geotechnical components
represent the stiffness in each of the independent degrees of displacement freedom).

The results are structured as follows:


1.

The cracking distribution is given in Figure 6. The crack pattern exhibit formation of diagonal cracks
in the stem of the T-shape column, also a more significant cracking occurs in foundation. Note that
the compressive stress level does not reach the crushing limit state at any point

2.

The principal stresses of structural concrete are shown in Figure 7. The maximum concrete
compressive stress is 12MPa. (Note that all values provided in figures are given in Mp-m, i.e. 1
kilopond 1kp=10N, 1Mp=1tf. For example 1Mp/m2 = 10-2MPa). The maximum tensile stress has no
relevance for it represents only a measure of the cracking state in the structure although the
maximum tensile stress diagram has significance in terms of cracking location.

3.

Figure 8 provides the concrete stress state in the upper part of the foundation nearby the joint. The
compressive stress located at bottom of foundation is quite low 3.7MPa which basically shows
that the foundation response at joint is quite far from the plane cross section assumption.

4.

Figure 9 shows the stress level in the upper layer of reinforcement of foundation. This stress in
significant 300MPa and was attained only in the rebars located nearby the column, this happened
because the stress transfer from concrete to reinforcement occurred early due to immediate cracking
of foundation.

5.

The column concrete stress state is provided in Figure 10. This Figure shows that the maximum
compressive stress of 12MPa occurs on the tip of the T-shape column stem, and is extremely
localized. This value represents almost half of the capable compressive strength (note the median
compressive strength was considered 26MPa). Although this value is obviously not critical, it
diminishes significantly the available margin for the forthcoming loading involving flexural capacity.

6.

The reinforcement stress is given in Figure 11. The longitudinal reinforcement stress is low (70MPa)
and not of a concern, but the stress in the hoop rebars are considerable (almost 150MPa). This force
occurs due to shear force encountered in the column, this is located at the change of shear stiffness
from the core concrete column (1.2mx1.2m) to the stem of the T-shaped.

7.

The soil-structure-interaction was modelled by means of a contact analysis of the structure with an
assumed bounding media. The distribution of pressures on the bottom side of the foundation is
presented in Figure 12.

8.

The development of the shear force during incremental imposed displacement is given in Figure 13.
This shear force represents half of the total value due to the modelling of only half of a T-shaped
column. The total shear force at 2.6mm displacement is approximately 2x65=130Mp.

Shear cracking

Figure 6. Crack distribution associated to prestressing induced stress level

Figure 7. Concrete principal stresses (maximum tensile principal stress - left / maximum
compressive principal stress - right)

Tensile stress

Crack state

Figure 8. Foundation Concrete Stress state Stress and Strain evolution against top displacement at
the upper side of foundation near the joint.

Transfer
force
concrete to rebar.

from

Immediate cracking of the


top side of foundation

Figure 9. Foundation top layer reinforcement stress evolution during incremental prestressing
displacement

Figure 10. Column concrete stress state - stress evolution during incremental prestressing
displacement

Longitudinal
reinforcement
Transfer stress
from cracked
concrete to the
longit. rebar

Hoop
reinforcement
Transfer
stress from
cracked
concrete to the
hoop rebar

Figure 11. Column reinforcement stress state - stress evolution during incremental prestressing
displacement

Shear force [tf]

Figure 12. Soil pressure distribution obtained through contact analysis

Aprox. 1.5mm

The column
shear force is
almost
unchanged
within this
range
(due to
concrete
cracking)

2.6mm

Figure 13. Column shear force (due to symmetry conditions this represents half of the total value)

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Conclusions
The prestressing induced forces (like thermal loads) are self-limiting loads. This ability basically guarantees that
the prestressing induced forces cannot exceed a certain level they can only tend to relax themselves if
structural boundary conditions (such as restraints, anchors, various supports or other geotechnical conditions)
are changing as a response to these forces. This means that for a regular yielding system (either by structure
itself or by its boundary) no structural collapse occurs the system yields and accommodates the loading up to
equilibrium. Having this mentioned, it became clear that the allowable level for the remaining external forces
depends of the remanent prestressing induced stresses.
Another beneficial effect from prestressing point of view is redistribution of forces due to the concrete
cracking and the rocking/translation of foundation. The presstresing force driven out by column-foundationsoil mechanism in case of stiff soil is considerable larger than the case of soft soil in conjunction with presence
of concrete cracks.
The cracks of joint foundations cannot be closed once opened due to presstresing. The cracks can close (or
the concrete may even have been uncracked) if one of the following two limiting cases occurs:
a.

The perimeter foundation accommodates large rotations due to resultant displacement


(from the entire chain of frames subject to prestressing) at top of its T-shaped column.

b.

The cracks of central foundation-column system can close (or may not even have been
opened) if foundation-column system is strong enough to withstand the post-tensioning
with or without the aid of additional selfweight of upper storeys but in such case the
prestressing shortening displacements would be significantly diminished for the central
division. Therefore, the desired level of prestressing might not be attained in case of central
division. Simply put, the prestressing level is directly related to the shortening displacements
encountered at both ends of the slab segment hence, for a given post-tensioning forces
the degree of prestressing might not be reached if these displacements are inhibited by a
strong soil-foundation-column system.

In reality none of these limiting cases (3a or 3b) occurs but more probable a combination of the two (as our
analyses illustrated), either way this for certain will not lead to structural collapse under deadweight combined
with a low seismic event. Hence, there is not much concern about structural collapse following a low-tomoderate seismic event, but more for the effectiveness of the overall infrastructural system in case that a major
seismic event would occurs. We consider that it is more a matter of the amount of residual stresses embedded
in the substructure due to slab presstresing, which in the most optimistic evaluation represents at least 35-45
percent of the allowable margin/capacity for the joint foundation-column system.
Our assessment shown out that in case of prestressing of a single division, the remanent stresses are low
enough to be ignored. To some extent, even in case of two adjacent divisions the residual stresses might not be
significant (considering a combined effect of rocking of perimeter foundation along with occurrence of low
intensity cracking of joint column-foundation system) yet it is recommended to provide a structural joint in
the foundation.
References:

1.

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Prestandard and commentary for the seismic rehabilitation of
buildings. FEMA-356. November 2000

2.

Applied Technology Council Seismic Evaluation and retrofit of concrete buildings. ATC-40. California
Seismic Safety Commission. November 1996.

3.

SOLVIA Engineering AB SOLVIA Finite Element System version 03 Computer Program. 1987-2006.
Trefasgatan 3, SE-721, Sweden.

4.

SOLVIA Engineering AB The concrete material model in SOLVIA. Solvia Report. August 1995.

5.

Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute PCI Design Handbook Precast and Prestressed Concrete. 6th
Edition. MNL 120-04, 2004.

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