December 09, 2011
Building the Blast Library
by Shalva Marjanishvili & Brian Katz
Understanding the appropriate approach to blast design can often be daunting. Unlike other design disciplines, blast engineering is not guided by codified design requirements that represent agreed upon best practices design and construction standards. Consequently, blast engineers are heavily reliant on design guides and other criteria documents that translate research and testing into recommend analysis and design methodologies to support specific project needs. These publications equip engineers with the necessary tools that balance performance objectives against project constraints.
Shalva Marjanishvili, one of Hinman's own, recently collaborated with Steven Smith in compiling a design guide for blast resistant design of concrete masonry structures. This publication recognizes reinforced masonry as an extremely efficient and practical structural system for providing moderate blast protection, as well as satisfying other conventional loading requirements (i.e., seismic, wind, and gravity). Facing tough economic times, many designers are turning to reinforced masonry for its ease of construction and cost effectiveness. Smith and Marjanishvili's design guide helps to establish a foundation to understand the benefits and limitations of this structural system from a protection point of view.
In addition to guiding the designer, codified criteria serves the dual function of allowing various members of the design team to communicate with one another when identifying design approaches and goals. Blast engineers, however, are often confronted with the difficult task of articulating the complex nature of their work consistent with the language used by other design disciplines. The result is often the perception that absorbing blast design measures into a building's design will be highly complex and costly. Design guides, such as Smith and Marjanishvili's, help to further expand the language of blast design – allowing design team members and building owners to better understand the fundamental concepts and how to integrate protection into their design.