Structural Design – All About It!

Structural Design – All About It!


Planning is the first stage of everything for a project. Therefore, without this stage, one can’t even begin the first step to the completion of the project. It’s like going into battle without any weapons or training on how to fight the enemy. If one does not plan, then one plans to fail, as the old saying goes. Part of the planning process in any project is the structural design. This process is the visualization of ideas from different expertise to form the best structure that is both modern and sustainable. One needs to know the current bye-laws and the most recent designs to achieve the optimal result of the visualized idea. Below describes Structural Design Concepts.

The Two Types of Designs

To fulfill the needs of the building, it should possess the durability and efficiency intended as planned. Thus, to achieve the desired life span of the project and optimal function, the design of the structure is categorized into the following two main types:

  • Functional design
  • Structural design

What Is Functional Design?

To put it simply, usefulness. It is when the designers put into account the intended functions of the building. Depending on the type of structure, its use varies. This design is the idea that the building should have a practical use throughout its lifetime. Here are the functional types

1. Adaptive Function

This function is when the building can convert from one form of utility to another. An example of this is when the building converts from a function hall to an ice rink. The facility can accommodate different functions in its space.

2. Economic/Technological Function

Economy and technology go hand in hand today. Buildings like a commercial, residential, and even industrial spaces have heavy integration of technology. An example of this is when a mall also functions as a workspace for a tech-related Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) company with a satellite tower integrated into the mall’s structure.

3. Sustainable Function

During the project’s conceptualization, the designers consider the structure’s environmental impact. This environmental factor is why the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system now exists. Increasing the LEED points of your building is now treated as a standard in the industry.

One way of increasing the LEED points of the building is by installing sustainable structures that make the building safe and efficient. An example of this is by installing a VersaMount roof hatch. This replacement hatch allows you to replace the damaged roof hatch without reroofing.

4. Landmark

The structure can also function as a symbol that brings prestige. The buildings are for marketing purposes where it serves as the advertisement face. There are many examples of this all around the world. The top ones on the list are the Burj Al Arab, Petronas Tower, The Empire State Building, Sydney Opera House, Burj Khalifa, and Lloyd’s Building.

What Is Structural Design?

Structural design is a set of tools or methods assessing the project’s strength, rigidity, and stability before actual construction. It investigates if the structure can withstand the forces applied to it without failure during its intended life. The design specifications will allow designers to make sure that there are no costly mistakes or eliminate them entirely and possibly predict them to avoid serious consequences.

The Structural Design Process

The three phases of a structural design process are planning, design, and construction. Discussed in details below are the phases:

1. Planning

The primary consideration of this phase is the structure’s purpose. Law, economics, environment, sociology, and aesthetics are all secondary concerns. This process entails weighing the various requirements and factors influencing the structure’s overall configuration and dimensions, leading to selecting one or possibly multiple alternative forms of design that provide the best comprehensive solution. There are also structural and constructional specifications and constraints that may influence the structure.

2. Design

This phase entails a thorough examination of the alternative solutions identified in the planning phase, intending to determine the most appropriate proportions, measurements, and specifics of structural elements and connections for each alternative structural arrangement under consideration.

3. Construction

This process entails personnel mobilization, material and equipment acquisition, transportation to the job site, and actual on-site erection. If unforeseen difficulties arise during this process, such as the inability to obtain defined materials or foundation issues, some redesign is considered.

The Logic of Designing

Any structure’s structural design begins with determining the loading and other design requirements that must support the form and hence factored into its design, followed by computation and analysis of the gross internal forces.

Shear, thrust, bending moments, and twisting moments, as well as stress intensities, pressure, deflection, and reactions caused by loads, temperature changes, shrinkage, creep, and other design conditions, are examples of these forces. Finally, there are changes in proportion and material selection to allow all involved to react appropriately to the effects of the design conditions.

The conventional basis of design, known as Elastic Design, is based on allowable stress intensities chosen under the idea that stress or strain corresponds to the material’s yield point. It should not surpass the structure’s most strongly stressed points, the selection of failure due to fatigue, buckling, or brittle fracture.

In reinforced concrete literature, the most recent design technique is called strength design, and in steel-design literature, it is plastic design. A capacity reduction factor reduces the theoretical ability of a structural feature in reinforced concrete design to account for minor adverse differences in material strengths, quality, and dimensions.

Structural Design Codes

Many countries have structural design standards, practice design codes, or technical documents that serve the same purpose. Therefore, a designer must become familiar with local standards or guidelines for proper practice. It is not uncommon now to have your business outsourced to other countries as well. But, never forget to do the due diligence on what standards to follow in a foreign country to avoid any trouble.


The successful completion of all projects is because of the building’s structural design and how well-made they are. Structural Design is the key to a long-lasting project that can last for years and will remain an iconic landmark that will etch itself into the memories of many people. That is why the structures themselves must perform their intended purposes as planned by the designers who built them.