The design of structural brick systems using clay brick, mortar, grout and reinforcing steel has been in use for over 50 years. Historically, the system was most commonly used for loadbearing walls, beams, columns, and fences. In some cases the products were used as a cladding to wrap a structure without carrying vertical loads. The design concept discussed in this design guide focuses on the Structural Brick Veneer (SBV) system.
Structural Brick Veneer is a unique approach to the design and construction of brick exterior walls. Strengthening the brick with steel reinforcement provides opportunities to reduce the cost of the wall, increase design flexibility and improve wall performance. In common use since the late 1970’s, the approach has been used throughout the United States.
The Structural Brick Veneer system is similar to conventional brick veneer except that the brick is reinforced to allow it to span further between ties and supports. Reinforcing the veneer further reduces costs by allowing the brick system to carry wind and seismic forces and transfers the forces directly to the structure thus reducing the demand on backup systems or other masonry framing. Reinforcing the veneer also reduces the deflection requirements on perimeter beams and floors. The SBV system can be laid in place or built at another location, transported to the site and then lifted into place.
The SBV system allows the architect a variety of opportunities to create traditional walls or dramatic brick forms. Sloping windowsills, brick soffits, lintels without exposed ledger angles and precast concrete bands and inserts are only a few examples of the design opportunities available.
In areas of high seismic exposure, the SBV system can be easily isolated from the primary structure making “immediate occupancy” performance more cost effective. This design guide will provide the architect and the structural engineer with an introduction to the design and specification of the Structural Brick Veneer system. It includes some design examples and discussion of experiences with the system.