Our goal is to design and coordinate construction to maintain buildings intended for occupancy to protect occupants against explosion, fire, and toxic material releases.

Why do we specialize in Blast-Resistant design?





One question that comes up often is why does Smith LaRock Architecture specialize in Blast-Resistant design? Honestly the answer is, SAFETY. The importance of the safety for on-site personnel in industrial hazardous plants is critical.

Explosions occur when an explosive material, either in a solid, liquid or gaseous state, is detonated. Detonation refers to chemical reaction that rapidly progresses, at supersonic speeds, through the explosive material. The material is converted to a high temperature and high pressure gas that quickly expands to form a high intensity blast wave. Structures in the path of the blast wave are entirely engulfed by the shock pressures.

These shock pressures can damage buildings that reside within the blast radius. If these structures are occupied buildings the operators and employees inside are at risk. The goal with blast-resistant buildings are to protect occupants against explosion, fire, and toxic material releases from the plant.

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Types of Construction:

The design of blast resistant structures requires the use of good design and construction practices. In addition having proper knowledge of the characteristics of the blast load and the behavior of structures and their components under these loads. After determining the loading condition, there are several different types of construction we can pursue.

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Blast Damage Level

The amount of damage from the blast load is evaluated by the amount of damage the buildings structure undergoes. Each structural component is evaluated against an acceptable response criteria. For buildings located in petrochemical refineries, ASCE provides the following response criteria damage levels:

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Hardening Existing Structures

One thing we see a lot is our clients want to know how to upgrade their existing structures. Typically an evaluation strategies is coordinated for upgrade options for existing buildings on industrial plants.

There are times an existing structure may be adequate to be “hardened” or “blast-proofed”. There are several different methods that can be taken to harden an existing structure.

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RP-752 & RP-753

The American Petroleum Institute (API) has recommended practices (RP) that were adopted to help improve the safety of onsite operations in the case or a blast event.

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Is Blast-Resistant Design Right for your Project & Facilities?

It is important to know and understand your situation for your operator’s and employee’s safety, as well as your facility and project needs. Here are a few examples given by The American Petroleum Institute (API), which helps you identify what your project needs might be. Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss further for your unique facilities and needs.

Modular Control Building:

Problem: A number of structural solutions have been proposed to replace the local control building. The replacement building will be permanent and will house personnel from an existing building. One option is to use a blast resistant portable building which will be fabricated offsite and transported by road to the proposed location.

Response: The proposed local control building is intended for permanent use in a fixed location and is specifically designed for significant blast loading. The building siting evaluation is performed in accordance with API 752.

Central Laboratory:

Problem: A central laboratory houses an assigned laboratory worker who processes samples related to chemical analysis, quality assurance, and filing out related paperwork. Should this building be included in the building siting evaluation?

Response: Since the central laboratory houses personnel who are assigned to the laboratory, it is a building intended for occupancy and is included in the building siting evaluation.


Problem: A warehouse is used to store finished product and to serve as a staging point for moving that product onto transport vehicles for removal from the plant. The workforce assigned to work in the warehouse includes an attendant and forklift operators. Is this an occupied building?

Response: This warehouse is intended for occupancy. A warehouse with personnel assigned is specifically identified as intended for occupancy in API RP 752.

Building within a Building:

Problem: It is decided to add an enclosed office to the corner of the warehouse. THe office is to be used by personnel as their assigned workstation. THe other activities in the warehouse remain unchanged. Should the warehouse be included in th ebuilding siting evaluation?

Response: The office is a “building within a building.” An office is defined as intended for occupancy because it has personnel assigned as described in 4.1. The remaining portion of the warehouse is not intended for occupancy. Building siting evaluation is applied to the office. The structural response of the warehouse surrounding the office evaluated since it may impact the office.

Operator Shelter Building – Routine Occupancy:

Problem: The facility has a small building used as an operator shelter. Personnel routinely used the building to fill out work permits particularly on days with inclement weather. When not in the field, these personnel are assigned to and reside in the central control room. Is the operator shelter considered intended for occupancy and should it be included in the building siting evaluation?

Response: This operator shelter has routine occupancy (to write permits) and needs to be included in the building siting evaluation..

Project Examples taken from API Recommended Practice 752

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