Cast Iron

Historic Structural Detail: Non-Skid

A nice picture by Mona of the sidewalk over a vault, with the vault light on the left, and the granite-slab sidewalk on the right: Note that the glass lenses in the vault light vary greatly in condition, with some looking very good, some cracked, some chipped, and some missing and apparently replaced with hardened …

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Easy On, Easy Off

Cast-iron facades are an early form of prefabrication. The complex architectural forms were cast in foundries in many pieces and then bolted together on site. Of course, that means that when a piece is loose, either because the wrought-iron bolts rusted or because of cracking, it comes right off the facade. Or, as seen here, falls out …

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Road Trip: Cast Iron

A few beautiful cruciform-section cast-iron columns on Clink Street in London: The prison on Clink Street was burned down in 1780, and 1780-1800 sounds about right for cast iron to have been used in the construction of a warehouse or factory in London. A cruciform section is less efficient for column use than the more-common hollow-round or …

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Cast In Metal

One of the non-structural, arguably-unimportant advantages of cast iron is that you can cast literally any pattern that doesn’t contain fine lines. You can, for example, cast your company’s name into a piece of a building: The Jackson Iron Works is reasonably famous. I had not heard of Mr. Throckmorton, but it turns out he …

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Historic Structural Detail: A Composite Arch

One of the earliest challenges for structural engineers – long before the profession formally existed – was how to support masonry walls over openings. The tight column spacing of Greek and Egyptian temples, for example, was based in part on the limited spanning capacity of stone beams. Masonry arches, as used by the Romans, could span …

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