The Devil is in the Details

Starting a blog post with a picture of RMS Titanic is an unsubtle way of saying you’re going to discuss failure. That’s partly true in this case, although I want to talk about a specific type of failure, which is failure of foresight. Or perhaps failure of imagination. I recently happened across a painting of …

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A Lifespan is a Long Time

The Institution of Civil Engineers – the UK counterpart to the American Society of Civil Engineers – issued a report on the whole-life risks for infrastructure (in its broad sense of the engineered built environment) some time ago that I finally found the time to read. And now I want to encourage every engineer to …

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A Good Idea Internationally

I’ve written several times about the CROSS (Confidential Reporting on Structural Safety) website. It allows engineers (and theoretically others) to anonymously report issues that are potentially dangerous or have led to structural failure, so that engineers everywhere may learn from those problems and their solutions. It originated in the UK, sponsored by professional and government …

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More Evidence of a Terrible Choice

Brownstone was very popular in New York in the nineteenth century. It was used for trim and for entire facades. It was cheap, it was readily available from more than one nearby quarry, and because it was soft it was easily carved. It’s also about the worst possible stone for our climate, which is wet …

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