The Structural Engineer > Archive > Volume 86 (2008) > Issues > Issue 14 > Foundation engineering - Professor John B. Burland CBE
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Foundation engineering - Professor John B. Burland CBE

This paper traces the development of the craft and science of foundation engineering in the UK during the last 100 years drawing mainly on papers published in The Structural Engineer. The story is told of how Terzaghi coupled engineering geology with the science of soil mechanics to provide the necessary rigour for modern geotechnical modelling and analysis. In the 1960s two innovative construction techniques combined to transform foundation engineering world-wide - large diameter bored piles and diaphragm walls. In recent years the use of numerical methods of geotechnical analysis has become widespread. The method opens the way for the instructive modelling of complex soil-structure interaction problems provided the inherent uncertainties are recognised. However, easy access to the computer packages poses grave dangers of inappropriate use of the methods. The risks and hazards posed by the ground are discussed and it is concluded that their effective management requires well planned and executed site investigations for all structures and the structural engineer has a key role to play.