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Please join us to develop an understanding of how all SRW’s function to ensure that these wall structures are properly designed, understand our Best Practices approach, and learn about the best SRW Design Software available in the industry, and its free.

No prior AB Walls 3D+Terraces Tutorial required. If you would prefer a one-on-one tutorial with our Engineering Department or are interested in a standard tutorial on AB Walls 3D+Terraces, please email us to schedule at your convenience.

Need to sign up later? Go to our Designers Resources page on our website. There you can see the courses listed as well as past webinars, on demand videos, AB Walls, 3D Modeling information and more.

Join us on Thursdays at 8 am, 11 am, 1 pm or 4 pm (CST) for these 1 hour sessions.

Cost: Free

The Value of SRWs vs Alternate Reinforcement Systemsn
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Segmental Retaining Wall Design
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Best Practices for SRW Design
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AB Walls 3D+Terraces Basic Tutorial
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Please see below for our Q2 Technical Newsletter

Technical Newsletter

Allan Block Design Professionals

June 2024

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Our Design Professional ABU Online events were created to help you with your retaining wall needs.

In This Issue

Case Study: Skyline Plaza

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The Skyline Park is a 1 acre park located in Fort Wayne, IN. What makes this park noteworthy is that it is located 4 stories in the air, above a parking garage, and is the largest rooftop garden in the state. To access this park, you either have to work in the Ash Skyline Plaza or live in the Skyline Towers apartment building adjacent to the park.

Skyline Park was designed by Design Collaborative to provide a space that could be used for both corporate events and private recreation and relaxation. The park consists of raised garden beds, a fountain with seating area as well as an open area with natural grass to appeal to both the public and private use.

As everything was located 4 stories in the air, the design of the parking garage roof needed to account for all the material weight and create a water management plan. Another challenge came with construction as all the garden material needed to be lifted to the site by a rooftop crane. Once the material was on the roof, Clounie Landscaping was able to utilize their knowledge and expertise they learned at Allan Block’s Contractor Certification training to install the retaining walls.

Check out the full case study or see the full library on our website.

Skyline Plaza

Engineer Talk: Tackling Above Wall Conditions in Design Consideration

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When it comes to designing your retaining wall, it’s vital to consider the above wall conditions and apply the corresponding load value to ensure the structure is engineered satisfactorily. There are three basic above wall conditions with retaining walls: level, slope and surcharge.

When it’s level above a wall, the only consideration is whather or not a fence is needed as it affects the top of wall overturning design. If so:

  • What is its height?
  • What is the post spacing?
  • What is the loading – pedestrian, wind or vehicular impact?

A slope above can also pose changes in the design regarding geogrid type, length, and spacing between the layers. When a slope exists:

  • How tall is it?
  • How far back behind the wall does it go for?

Surcharge, by definition, is any added weight above a wall. Based on Best Practices for Segmental Retaining Walls, when a surcharge is applied above the wall over the reinforced zone, the top layer of grid should be extended. This is displayed in the image on the right. Below are key thoughts to keep in mind regarding surcharges:

  • What kind of surcharge is above? - Vehicular? Pedestrian?
  • What is that loading value? Where is its final placement?
  • Is it a live or dead load?

Lastly, in terraced applications, the upper wall(s) can again cause the grids to be extended to 60% the total structure height. The extended grids assist the overall stability of the site.

These are guidelines of considerations, but each project is unique, the engineer on the project should apply the loading that best represents their project needs based on the site.

Contact Allan Block for more information or for a copy of our current AB Walls Design Software.

Setback Setback

Tools: When and How to Apply Different Drainage Options in AB Walls

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Effective water management is important for maintaining the integrity and longevity of a segmental retaining wall. Proper drainage prevents water related issues and preserves the wall’s structure and stability. Understanding the source of water on-site and knowing how to manage it will help you construct more structurally sound walls that last a lifetime.

Before discussing how to implement proper drainage in the AB Walls Software, it's crucial to understand that site water should always be directed away from any retaining wall structure and should never be allowed to flow over the top or pool above/below the wall. There are two types of water infiltration a wall is subject to, surface and subsurface water. Surface infiltration is all water coming from above the wall and infiltrating into the infill area. Subsurface infiltration is all other water getting into the wall from the foundation and retained soil areas. Each type has its own management system that can be applied, and usually, a combination of both is the best solution for a wall.

Our AB Walls Software allows the user to implement proper drainage in a wall design, giving options for surface and subsurface drainage. To do this simply select the “Design Parameters” button between the big blue arrows in the sections page and then navigate to the “Wall Drain Options” tab. Once open, this page allows the user to apply an assortment of drainage options.

  • Infill caps and drainage swales to prevent surface infiltration.
  • Chimney and blanket drains to assist drainage from subsurface infiltration.
  • A water application option replacing the infill material with a more permeable material.
  • Alternate drain option allowing drains to vent through the face of the wall.

Further information on water management and drainage can be found in the following Allan Block literature:


If you have any questions or need clarification reach out to the Allan Block Engineering Team at (952) 835-5309 x 3 or send us an email at

Transforming Urban Spaces: The Rise of Rooftop Gardens

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Rise of Rooftop Gardens

Rooftop landscaping, once a niche concept, has surged in popularity as urban environments seek innovative ways to expand green spaces. These elevated gardens transform typically unused rooftops into vibrant spaces for recreation, entertainment, and outdoor living. Allan Block products, known for their innovative design and flexibility, are a top choice for architects and engineers tackling these projects.

Allan Block's retaining walls, seating walls, and fence products feature a hollow core, making them lighter and adaptable to various fill materials. Properly designing a rooftop landscape involves understanding several critical factors, such as the roof's intended purpose, desired elements, and structural parameters.

Purpose and Elements:

The design of a rooftop garden varies based on its intended use. Whether for public entertainment, relaxation, or as a private living space, each purpose dictates the space's layout and loading requirements. Key elements might include raised garden beds, stairs, seating walls, fountains, walking paths, and pools. These elements contribute to the overall load and must be carefully planned to ensure structural integrity.

Design and Construction Considerations:

Designing rooftop gardens requires meticulous planning, especially regarding weight management and water control. Lightweight fill materials, such as styrofoam blocks, are often used to reduce overall weight. Water management is crucial to prevent leaks and support plant life, necessitating robust waterproofing and drainage systems.

In conclusion, Allan Block products, including AB Retaining Walls, AB Courtyard, and AB Fence, are versatile and well-suited for rooftop applications. They offer lightweight, adaptable products, ensuring that each rooftop garden is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. For more detailed guidance on design and installation, Allan Block provides comprehensive resources and design software at, or check out our Tech Sheet – Rooftop Landscaping and Gardens for more information.

By integrating these green spaces into urban settings, we not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of our cities but also create valuable communal areas that promote well-being and environmental sustainability.

Hot Topic: Building a Straight Wall up a Slope

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Segmental retaining walls have an inherent setback or batter to the walls. This reduces the pressure behind the walls and makes it possible to potentially build taller gravity walls. This setback is a wonderful thing; however, it does create a small inconvenience when building a straight wall up a slope. What happens is, when a wall is being installed the wall will start to “move away” from a straight line as it goes up in elevation.

Effects of Block Setback

Not to worry, Allan Block has a solution laid out in our Tech Sheets to eliminate this scenario, Building Straight Walls Up a Slope. This tech sheet provides the installer with a method to adjust the wall line to match up with the desired straight line as they step up the wall.

Installing the Second course

Check out the tech sheet for more information or reach out to your local Allan Block representative with questions.

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