Investigating the structural frame decision making process

Haroglu, Hasan (2009) Investigating the structural frame decision making process. (EngD thesis), Loughborough University, .


Structural frames are widely used in sectors such as residential, education, commercial, health, retail, leisure etc. and the selection of a structural frame appropriate to a building s function and client needs is a key decision with significant short- and long-term implications. There is a wide choice of structural frame materials for building projects, i.e concrete, steel, timber, or masonry. Although many options are available, these tend to be based on structural steel or reinforced concrete for the simplest buildings. The nature of concrete frame buildings has developed significantly with the emergence of new technologies and innovations particularly in formwork, concrete as a material, and reinforcement developments. As a result, concrete frame construction has become a faster, more sustainable, and safer form of construction. However, competition from other framing materials such as steel have proved challenging. This research was initiated in response to this challenge and represents one organisation s attempt to deliver improvements in order to promote concrete in the UK structural frames market. The organisation is strongly focused on the continued development of concrete through design inspiration and construction efficiency, research strategy, education and training, new product and process innovation and the achievement of best performance of concrete in practice. The research programme was established to address issues that are considered by decision makers when choosing the optimum frame solution for a building project, and to identify how such decisions are made in practice. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods have been adopted during the EngD research including a literature review, industry questionnaire survey and case study. From an initial set of interviews, ten key issues were identified at the early stage of the research as being the most important affecting the structural frame selection for a building project. The structural engineer was found, unsurprisingly, to be the most influential decision-maker in the choice of frame at each stage of design process from a subsequent survey of cost consultants, project managers and clients. The survey also revealed that Design-Build is the preferred procurement route amongst developers of building projects, ranging from complex, high quality projects to simple buildings which suggested that most contractors must be getting involved earlier in the design process and thus could be influencing major decisions, such as the selection of a structural frame. Four case study project teams were examined, from which it was clear that contractors could be influential in the frame selection process if they had the willingness to build in a particular frame type (provided that the frame type selected meets the client s requirements). Key findings on the choice of frame in a Design-Build project and the various actions taken by the contractor were highlighted by the research, including the important role played in the decision-making process by more informed clients, who are much more likely to be influential in deciding on the frame type. Further work could be carried out to assess the specific benefits of early contractor involvement, the factors that affect the extent to which contractors get involved with structural frame decision making and the risk relationship between client and contractor. The findings of this work have been presented in five peer-reviewed papers.

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