Elon NC Students ‘Break Dance’ on Floor Trusses
Editor’s Note: A special thanks to Mark Rolf of Trussway for providing ongoing market intelligence feedback on student housing floor performance.
When large groups of students gather and dance, it can create loading conditions neither intended nor anticipated by the building designer. While a recent floor collapse at Clemson University is a prime example of this phenomena, a more recent three-inch floor truss deflection at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina is also instructive.
On August 31, 2019, a group of students at an apartment complex near campus were hosting a large dance party. As can be seen in the video at right, the apartment was packed with students.
One eye witness estimated that at least 100 people were at the party. At some point during the party, the floor system experienced abnormal deflection and “sponginess.”
According to an interview with the apartment management (video below), the tenants woke up the next morning and noticed the floor was “out of shape and may have dropped three inches.”
Those observations prompted the management company to conduct an intrusive inspection, as can be seen in the photograph below.
Given the rise in buildings being built for student housing, and the increased potential for high occupancy and rhythmic dancing loading conditions, it is wise for component manufacturers to reduce the potential for “back charges” with request for information (RFI) documentation, which we outlined in a recent article.
It is very important for all construction professional involved in student housing projects to clearly define the approved floor loads. Here is an example RFI table CMs could use to confirm design load conditions:
|Loads to be Modified||Per Plan||Condition||Applied To|
|____psf||40 psf Live Load||Living||Top Chord|
|____psf||40 psf Live Load||Corridor||Top Chord|
|____psf||100 psf Live Load||Public & Lobbies||Top Chord|
|____psf||27 psf Dead Load||All Interior||Top Chord|
|____psf||50 psf Dead Load||Exterior Terrace||Top Chord|
|____psf||0 psf Live Load||All Conditions||Bottom Chord|
|____psf||3 psf Dead Load||1 hr Ceilings||Bottom Chord|
|____psf||6 psf Dead Load||2 hr Ceilings||Bottom Chord|
Having an RFI reviewed and confirmed ensures that the owner, building designer, general contractor, component manufacturer and framer know that the occupancy conditions surrounding student housing have been considered and the assumed design loads, as defined in the original plans and specs, are either modified or accepted as defined in the original plans and specs.
For additional information, please review the following resources and articles on collapses due to overloading by crowds:
- Student Housing & Collapses Topical Library
- Parties Present Threat to Student Housing Floor Systems
- Floor Truss Failure Draws Attention to Their Use in Apartments
- Do You Use Student Housing RFIs? Should You?
- Floor Collapse at Party Injures 30 Clemson Students
- Crowd & Dancing Blamed for Clemson Floor Collapse
- Student Party in Texas Ends in Floor Collapse
- College Party in California Causes Roof to Collapse
- Bridge Collapse in Moscow's Gorky Park on New Year's Eve
- Large Deck Collapse Occurs During Memorial Service
- Deck Collapses During Prom Pictures
- Off-Campus Deck Collapse Injures 30 In Connecticut