Conference Reminders

The Structural Engineers Association of New York annual conference is being held virtually this Thursday and Friday: “Maintaining the Past: Modifications & Retrofits to Existing Buildings.” The Northeast Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology annual symposium is being held virtually this Friday: “Disasters and How We Overcome Them.” Through a spectacular failure of planning …

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Not Enough

A surprisingly large number of early skyscrapers in the US were offices for insurance companies. Those companies needed armies of clerks to deal with the paperwork of their business, and room to hold all that paper. One of the earliest to build large was Equitable Life Assurance, which in 1870 had George Post design a …

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Acceptable Performance

The picture abide shows the home of the San Francisco Call newspaper following the 1906 earthquake. The Call Building had a modern steel frame that even included some attempts at seismic bracing and, as can be seen here, suffered little earthquake damage. Its interior was, however, severely damaged by the fires that followed the quake, …

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Failure Portrait: It Doesn’t Quite Fit

I haven’t done one of these in a while, partly because of the Covid-19 lockdown and partly because of the luck of the draw in which projects I’ve visited. I like this photo because the failure is quite subtle but also completely visible. That’s a piece of a stone-masonry facade, visible up close from a …

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