Advantages and Pitfalls of Unreinforced Masonry Construction

///Advantages and Pitfalls of Unreinforced Masonry Construction

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Advantages and Pitfalls of Unreinforced Masonry Construction

Advantages and Pitfalls of Unreinforced Masonry Construction2017-10-03T10:11:01+00:00

Course Number: SEM-BD-3007

Length of Course: 3 hours – Several topics can be combined to provide up to an 8 hour seminar session

Seminar Location: This seminar is available for on-site training

In Advantages and Pitfalls of Unreinforced Masonry Construction, you’ll learn …


  • The most commonly used masonry materials and their distinguishing features
  • Why unreinforced masonry construction (URM) is still such a popular construction choice
  • The structural limitations of URM and causes for numerous building collapses
  • Ways to improve or increase the strength of masonry structures


Unreinforced masonry (URM), such as brick walls or walls constructed of concrete masonry units, has been used throughout history for the construction of various structures, including residential (single family homes), commercial (office space, retail), and assembly (churches, theaters). URM construction offers numerous advantages over other building materials, but there are also some structural disadvantages to it. Fortunately, there are prescribed repairs that can remedy the inherent structural weaknesses of URM construction. One of the main goals of this seminar is to describe those repairs and provide design examples.

We will begin the seminar with a brief look at the historical uses and development of masonry and masonry materials followed by a consideration of the most commonly used structural masonry units in today’s construction. Then we will identify and discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of unit masonry construction. We will also work through sample design problems and solutions for URM bearing walls, basement walls, and retaining walls, as well as for reinforced retaining walls. In addition, you will learn about some famous building collapses and foundation failures throughout the world, which were caused by structural limitations exposed by earthquakes.

Along with the applicable building codes and various articles and documents from the Masonry Institute of America, the main reference source for this seminar is Simplified Design of Masonry Structures by James Ambrose.

Take away and learning objectives

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • The historical development of masonry from antiquity to the present day
  • Distinguishing features or characteristics of masonry materials
  • Current uses of masonry
  • Structural advantages and disadvantages of various masonry materials
  • Material and/or construction terminology specific to masonry construction
  • Design of URM bearing walls, basement walls, and retaining walls
  • Design of reinforced masonry walls subject to lateral loading
  • Retrofit of URM walls with reinforcement to accommodate lateral loading

Speak to a Representative to Schedule a Seminar

For more information contact:
Ken Hudspeth, General Manager
Phone 1-877-PDHengineer (1-877-734-3644)