This paper addresses the generally neglected question of how a designer takes into account the possibility of a local structural failure. Can a local failure lead to progressive collapse? Is an engineer obliged to consider extremely rare loads (i.e. a column hit by a car, plane, etc. or an earthquake larger than contemplated by the building code)?

The conclusion reached is that load bearing masonry is ideally suited to provide additional structural safety at a significant saving to other types of construction if properly designed and detailed.

However, if the concepts and details are not incorporated, it is possible to produce a structure that meets the code but does not meet the public’s expectation for safety.