Unintended Consequences

There’s some great reading up at the SCOSS web site, but I don’t recommend it for bedtime. The SCOSS Alert “Effects of Scale” published late last year, discusses what happens when reality doesn’t match simplified structural models, and the answers range from not pretty to potentially catastrophic. In short, engineers don’t analyze buildings, we analyze …

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Book Review: Empirical Structural Design for Architects, Engineers, and Builders

Empirical Structural Design for Architects, Engineers, and Builders by Thomas Boothby is exactly what its long title suggests: a textbook on how to design without modern analysis. Empirical design can mean a lot of things, but on page 1, Mr. Boothby makes it clear what he wants to talk about. He gives an example for …

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The Clifton Bridge, Part 2

Or more like Parts 2a and 2b, since I have two short topics I want to discuss, related only by them both touching on the towers of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. First, I remembered from the 1990s that the towers of the bridge are ashlar masonry, but I did not remember what kind. The picture …

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An Old Problem Resurfaces

Innovations sometimes don’t work well. The Millennium Bridge in London, which was a new twist on suspension bridge design, moved noticeably when it was built and needed a retrofit to reduce the sway. An article on the intersection of structural dynamics, statistics, and the biomechanics of the human gait – Walking Crowds on a Shaky …

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A Full-Scale Illustration

These pictures of the Eiffel Tower under construction are fairly famous, and they deserve to be. They show the extremely rapid and accurate construction of a huge expression of modern (for the time) technology. They also, more or less accidentally, show exactly how the tower works. Gustav Eiffel spent a lot of time analyzing wind …

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