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Use of Side Friction to Resist Overturning - Spread Footing

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 I have recently seen a set of calculations for the design of reinforced 
 concrete spread footings (for a new building) which support building 
 columns which are subjected to large lateral loading.  The spread footings 
 are approximately 5 ft. deep (to bottom of footing), 2 ft. thick, and have 
 a 3' tall square pier which receives the square column.  The calculations 
 assume a value of 500 psf for side friction on the 2' thick footing.  The 
 forces generated by this side friction are supposed to help resist the 
 overturning moment imposed to the footing.  I have never seen this type of 
 analysis used for spread footing design.  I think the methodology is way 
 out in left field !  Any other opinions ?