iGEM Book Review



by J. A. Charles


Rigorous and yet accessible, this up-to-date introduction to geotechnical engineering explores both the principles of soil mechanics and their application to engineering practice emphasizing the role of geotechnical engineering in real design projects. Discusses site exploration and characterization; soil composition; soil classification; excavation, grading, and compacted fill; groundwater fundamentals and applications; stress; compressibility and settlement; rate of consolidation; strength; stability of earth slopes; structural foundations; difficult soils; and soil improvement. In his foreword to the book, Professor John Burland states that “for most building materials, such as steel, cement, concrete and brickwork, the stiffness and strength can be specified and remain reasonably fixed and dependable. For soils, however, the stiffness and strength depend on stress acting on them and the water pressures acting within them, and these can change significantly during and after construction. In most cases, the professional cannot specify the founding material but has to work with what nature has provided; and nature is seldom straightforward.” This understanding is present throughout the entire book which is based on the expertise, experience and guidance on foundations for low rise buildings which has accumulated at Building Research Establishment over many years. The author, Andrew Charles, has worked in Geotechnics at Building Research Establishment since 1967. He has been extensively involved in many aspects of geotechnical engineering, has published more than 150 technical papers and has won many awards for his work in this field. The book is structured to take the reader through a logical sequence of information, from the viewpoint of someone who is confronted with having to consider a new building on a site about which little is known. The book deals principally with low-rise buildings and much emphasis is placed on near-surface ground conditions. It concentrates on the way in which the ground is used to support building foundations and is based on research into the actual behavior of buildings founded on a wide range of difficult ground conditions, studies of the effectiveness of various ground treatment methods, assessments of risks associated with building on brownfield land and detailed examinations of the causes and severity of damage in numerous buildings. In each chapter, certain detailed information, which has not been put in the body of the text, can be found in notes which are placed at the end of the chapter. The book contains comprehensive lists of relevant regulations, standards and authoritative papers. The book certainly deserves to find its way on to the bookshelves of geotechnical engineers, structural engineers, civil engineers, architects, planners, insurance underwriters and property developers.

'Geotechnics for Building Professionals' is published by British Reseach Establishment (BRE) Bookshop, 2005, reference BR473, price £65.00, and can be purchased at www.brebookshop.com or by contacting BRE Bookshop, Tel: 01344 404407, Email: brebookshop@ihsrapidoc.com

By Mihail E. Popescu, Illinois Institute of Technology

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