Technical News

Exclusively for Allan Block Design Professionals

December 2023

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ABU Online

Our Design Professional ABU Online events were created to help you with your retaining wall needs. Our local production and sales partners will be happy to schedule in person training on any topics you see below (call us if you are looking for those individuals) but feel free to use these to help with immediate needs.

training opportunities

Signup for our Webinars

All eligible for 0.1 CEU/1.0 PDH
60 minute sessions

Held on Thursdays at:
8AM, 11AM, 1PM or 4PM CDT
on the date listed

The Value of SRWs vs Alternate Reinforcement Systems

Segmental Retaining Wall Design
Sign up: 2/29/24

Best Practices for SRW Design
Sign up: 3/7/24

AB Walls 3D+Terraces Basic Tutorial
Sign up: 3/14/24

Water Management and AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Sign up: 3/21/24

SRW Inspectors Presentation
Sign up: 3/28/24

Terraces and Global Stability in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Sign up: 4/4/24

Seismic Consideration and Above Wall Considerations in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Sign up: 4/11/24

Complex Composite Structures and No-Fines Concrete with AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Sign up: 4/18/24

SRW Architectural Presentation
Sign up: 1/11, 4/25

GRS/IBS Application
Sign up: 1/18, 5/2

Submittals and 3D Modeling in AB Walls 3D+Terraces
Sign up: 1/25, 5/9

AB CADD within the AB Walls Design Software
Sign up: 2/8, 5/16

AB Fence Design and Installation
Sign up: 2/15/, 5/23

Go To Webinar


Once registered for an ABU Online event, you will receive an email notification with a calendar invite attached. Simply open that calendar invite and save it to your calendar for easy access in the future. In addition, you should receive 2-3 email reminders about the event.

Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to see all our great announcements and upcoming trainings.

Inspiring Project Ideas








In this Issue:

Hot Topic: AB Workshop and Reference documents

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Want to use our AB Walls Design Software but don’t know where to start? Check out our new AB Workshop Videos! We have put together a new library of video resources that cover all topics regarding Allan Block’s products and tools.

Learn the basics like how to Register Your Copy of AB Walls or Download Example Files if you’re a beginner. Or dive deeper by learning how to Apply Surcharges and Slopes in AB Walls and How to use Panel Selection.

We also have videos on installation steps for retaining walls, and how to use our estimating tools. Check out our Reference Document for Design Professionals to see the full video library, including ones in production. Don’t see a video that you think would be helpful? Give us a call at 800-899-5309 and let us know!

Certified the most New Contractors

Check out the New Videos
in our AB Workshop!!

Allan Block Workshop Videos
Reference Document
Design Professionals

 Download AB Walls Example

Case Study: Flood Control System for Lake has Aesthetic Appeal

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Lake Tulloch, located in the western Sierra Nevada foothills, is about 200 miles (322 km)east of San Francisco, California. Its primary function is to supply water to several areas to the west in the San Joaquin Valley. In conjunction with several other lakes located on the Stanislaus River, Lake Tulloch acts as a flood control system and is overseen by the Army Corp of Engineers.

A residence on the lake was looking to improve its lakeside yard with retaining walls, patios, stairs, inlets, docks, and planters. Keith Designs was the engineer on the project who reached out to Allan Block to assist with the homeowners’ wishes to increase their outdoor living space.

The layout for this new lakeside backyard had to be carefully considered due to the city requirements that no wall could be built below the high-water elevation. Otherwise, they would not receive a building permit. The city also required that for any slope below the wall to have a 7 foot (2m) horizontal bench from the bottom block to the surface of the slope. This increases embedment which also has to be above the high-water elevation.

Zero Section

During the build, many challenges were encountered when installing the numerous curves and corners from the layout. They overcame these challenges by following Allan Block’s block modification recommendations for installing curves and corners.

Check out the full Flood Control System for Lake has Aesthetic Appeal case study for more in-depth information.

Lake Tulloch

Engineer Talk: Enhancing Retaining Wall Projects with Curved Designs

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Curved designs play a pivotal role in the retaining wall industry, offering numerous advantages over traditional corners and angles. This article explores the structural strength, efficiency, and ease of installation associated with using curves, particularly focusing on Allan Block retaining wall products.

Utilizing curves in retaining wall projects presents several benefits:

  • Structural Strength: Curved designs contribute to structural strength by facilitating the redistribution of concentrated forces.
  • Minimized Cutting and Dust Control: Curved walls minimize the need for cutting on the job site, promoting effective silica dust control.
  • Faster and Easier Installation: The installation process is expedited and simplified when curves are employed, ensuring a swift and efficient project timeline.

Handling Curves with Allan Block Products:

Allan Block retaining wall products are designed to seamlessly accommodate curves, simplifying the construction process. See our curve videos for full details.

Inside Curve Grid Installation:

Addressing inside curves requires attention to grid layer placement to eliminate gaps and avoid overlap. Follow these steps for effective grid installation on inside curves:

  1. Lay out the primary grid. layer on the first course and ensure the primary grid is placed around the curve, securely butting against the back of the block lips.
  2. Identify the gaps by marking areas on the block where gaps in the grid are present.
  3. Add additional layers on the subsequent course of blocks at the center of the marked gaps on the primary grid. This ensures complete coverage and structural integrity.


Outside Curves Grid Installation:

Similar care must be taken when dealing with outside curves to prevent grid overlap. Follow these steps for efficient outside curve installation:

4 ft Curve Radius

  1. Place the grid along the curve, ensuring it snugly fits against the back of the block lips.
  2. Lift overlapping grid sections and place fill material between layers to provide separation. Ensure a minimum of 3 in (75 mm) of fill between layers to guarantee proper support and stability.
  3. By removing back wings, outside curves with a top course radius over 4 ft (1.2 m) can be easily achieved, eliminating the necessity for extensive cutting and promoting a smooth workflow.

Embracing curved designs in retaining wall projects not only enhances structural strength but also streamlines the construction process. By following these guidelines, particularly with Allan Block products, construction professionals can efficiently manage inside and outside curves, ensuring the success of their projects while minimizing challenges associated with cutting and grid overlap.

For information on curves, see our new curve videos!

For information on curves, see our new curve videos!
inside curves

Outside Curves

Tools: We want to hear from you!

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We know AB Walls is the most powerful design program for segmental retaining walls. You have the ability to design terraced walls, alternative reinforcement like no-fines concrete, and even prepare industry leading construction drawings with just a few clicks of a button using AB CADD. We get to use AB Walls every day, but we want to hear from you.

What additions or upgrades would you like to see within this program to make designing retaining walls easier?

After all, we truly believe that the “AB” stands for Always Better. And some of our best ideas come from you, the design professional who is only using AB Walls when their project needs a retaining wall. We know time is money and we want to continue bringing the value Allan Block is known for.

The last request we have is that if you did design a wall this year using AB Walls, let us know how it went. We may have some early Christmas presents that we can send you.

AB Walls 2023

Contractor Talk: Considerations For Laying Out A Wall

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When we start the process of planning, laying out and designing a retaining wall, there are several aspects and considerations to account for both in the commercial and residential setting before we can get contractors out there to start laying block. A lot of the factors overlap and apply for both settings, but let’s break it down individually and cover each topic.

Residential Layout

For a residential and commercial setting, let’s analyze some key considerations as the engineer, to aid us in foreseeing construction challenges and ensure we’re providing the customer with as accurate of estimate as possible.

  • Lot Lines: Should be a copy of project lot on site survey – will provide an accurate scaled site.
  • Utilities: Seek out the buried lines on site and inquire with owner to cross reference. Call to ensure these are marked by a local utility company.
  • Permits: Make sure you’re aware of the local city codes, you may need a permit based on wall height. Contact your local AB Sales Rep for more details as well.
  • Slopes: When arriving on site, analyze the surrounding environmental area. Take note of any above slope that could influence the wall envelope and soil pressure behind the wall.
  • Surcharge: On site, mark any parking lot, house, or loading that will be directly above the wall.
  • Soils: Check with the Geotech regarding the onsite soil being used in the project. The existing soil impacts your wall capability and longevity an if poor, may require excavation for better soil.
  • Vegetation: Note trees or vegetation in the environment that can be incorporated; wall layout enhances the aesthetic and value of property.
  • Grading: Develop a grading plan for the client to ensure water routes around the wall as much as possible. Use swales above and below to accommodate water movement and prevent pooling on the top or bottom of your SRW structure.

Commercial Layout

  • Water Management: Observe the drainage patterns on site, note the amount of area above the wall that will shed surface runoff towards the wall. Don’t forget concentrated sources such as runoff from pavement lots, roof drains, scuppers, creek beds, drainage swales, and groundwater.
  • Setback: Determine which Allan Block Collection is being used for the site and note the setback of the block…ex: AB classic – 6 degrees. Bigger setbacks provide better leverage and require less reinforcement. Figure out based on that setback what is feasible when you’re designing the wall..

A detailed site plan will help foresee design and construction challenges and provide an accurate reference. To learn more information please check out our AB Commercial Manual.

Again, it is essential to take the time to go through these site considerations to ensure a long lifetime for your Allan Block wall. Don’t hesitate to call us and ask questions on 952.835.5309 ext. 3.

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7424 W. 78th Street, Bloomington, MN 55439
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