What is Pattern Live Load?


Live Load is one among the many types of loads that acts on a building structure. Most entry level civil and structural engineers take live load lightly as a minor load. Most refer the code IS 875 Part 2 and copy the load values given in it and adopts the live load value for applying in ETABS model or what ever structural design software they use for analysis and design of the building. Most engineers apply a uniformly distributed live load all over the floor slab in all types of buildings.

However, Live loading has a lot of additional technical points to be mindful about. (I have written about some of those points in other blogs and have summarized it towards the end of this blog. Please ensure you read those blogs too after reading this blog on pattern loading.) One among the important point is pattern live loading which only a few students and structural engineers observe and appreciates. Some of the software like ETABS can partially incorporate pattern loading in the analysis. However, we need to input this as a requirement in order ETABS does this. One need to be careful to use this in the analysis software. Unless you are sure how to use it, you should not be using it. In the video I have shown the location where pattern load is possible while using ETABS for design of frames.

Also, as you know, experience makes a structural engineer perfect and many rarely used or occurring code provisions in civil engineering are encountered only during real projects. This is the reason; it is important for all structural design engineers to have practicing experience.

In the past, I also have got questions from students asking if Load pattern in ETABS is what is meant by pattern loading. No, they are not the same. It’s completely different. While ETABS has some ability to consider pattern loading, load pattern in ETABS is some th