Prefab Clay-Tile and Concrete-Block Framing Systems
by D. Matthew Stuart
Focusing on structural engineering issues involved in the repair, restoration, or adaptive reuse of older buildings for which drawings no longer exist, this article is the fourth in a series about antiquated structural systems that can be adapted or reanalyzed for safe reuse. —Editor
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As previously discussed, one- and two-way joist framing systems were constructed starting in the early 20th century using clay tile and masonry units, which were arranged and supported on formwork to enable placement of internal reinforcement and infill and topping concrete in situ.
Similar modular clay-tile and masonry units were also constructed offsite into prefabricated beams and slabs that could be delivered to the job site. This method of construction ultimately progressed to solid precast concrete units. The prefabricated clay-tile systems of the 1920s to 1950s included both one-way beam-and-slab construction and one-way slab construction.
The one-way beam system involved the placement of prefabricated beams spaced parallel to each other at regular intervals between already constructed load-bearing walls or steel beams. The areas between the beams were then infilled with tiles that were capable of spanning between adjacent beams.
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This article is reprinted from the June 2008 issue of STRUCTURE magazine, with permission of the publisher, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA).