Shallowly embedded column base connections with unreinforced block out concrete are a common method of connecting steel columns to their foundation. There has been little research done to accurately quantify the effects of this block out concrete on the connection strength and rigidity, and therefore there is nothing to aid the practicing engineer in accounting for this in structural analysis. Due to this lack of understanding, engineers have typically ignored the effects of shallow block out concrete in their analysis, presumably leading to a conservative design. Recent research has attempted to fill this gap in understanding. Several methods have been proposed that seek to quantify the effects of shallow block out concrete on a column base connection. Barnwell proposed a model that predicts the strength of a connection. Both Jones and Tryon used numerical modeling to predict the rotational stiffness of the connection. An experimental study was carried out to investigate the validity of these proposed models. A total of 8 test specimens were created at 2/3 scale with varying column sizes, connection details, and embedment depths. The columns were loaded laterally and cyclically at increasing displacements until the connection failed. The results show that the strength model proposed by Barnwell is reasonable and appropriate, and when applied to this series of physical tests produce predictions that have an observed/predicted ratio of between 0.95 to 1.39. The results also show that methods for estimating the rotational stiffness of the connection at the top of the block out concrete, as proposed by Jones and Tryon also produce reasonable values that had observed/predicted ratios of between 0.93 to 1.47. An alternative model for determining a design value for the rotational stiffness of a shallowly embedded column base plate is also proposed. When the embedment depth to column depth ratio is greater than 1.22, the connection is sufficiently rigid and at small deflections (less than 1% story drift) may be accurately modelled with infinite rotational stiffness (a "fixed" connection) at the base of the column.



College and Department

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology; Civil and Environmental Engineering



Date Submitted


Document Type





steel columns, spread footings, shallowly embedded connection, block out, base plates, anchor bolts, lateral stiffness, rotational stiffness