Failure

116 Years And It’s Not Enough

People’s responses to tragedy move at their own pace. When I was studying history in grad school I took a course on how memory becomes history, about the process of converting people’s personal memories and current-day news accounts into a historical record. My term paper compared the historical arc of several tragic events, including 9-11, …

116 Years And It’s Not Enough Read More »

Construction History: Unearthing Cause And Effect

The 1896 Sanborn Map, above, shows a vacant lot at 1078 Madison Avenue. A while ago I became interested in why that lot was vacant at that time, and the answers show a bit about the usefulness and limitations of historical research in our field. The basic facts are simple: a five-story, one-lot apartment house …

Construction History: Unearthing Cause And Effect Read More »

Construction History: A Detail Fails

In the world of US building design and construction, the last quarter of the nineteenth century and the beginning years of the twentieth were largely a search for “fireproof” construction. Ultimately that search proved to be futile, and the efforts switched to timed fire-ratings and the protection of people via better egress and other non-structural …

Construction History: A Detail Fails Read More »

Construction History: The Last Straw

That pile of debris was a three-quarters-completed apartment house the day before that picture was taken. The title of the forensic report published in the Transactions of the ASCE, “The Collapse of a Building During Construction” summarizes the event. The questions of what happened and how people reacted to it are more interesting. The Darlington …

Construction History: The Last Straw Read More »

Construction History: Deconstruction By Fire

That unimpressive little building is a furniture warehouse in Rockaway, constructed in 1909 and badly damaged by fire in 1916. Before the fire there was a wood-frame factory on the right side of the building, where the furniture stored in the warehouse was made; the fire started in the factory and completely destroyed it. I’ve …

Construction History: Deconstruction By Fire Read More »

Scroll to Top