Hidden Oddity

by Don Friedman on March 16, 2019

That’s the demolition of a small commercial building on the Upper West Side. Nothing remarkable – I stopped and looked only because I used to live in the neighborhood and must have walked by this budding a few thousand times in the late 80s and early 90s.

I was surprised to see that the roof is made of open-web steel joists. That structural system, basically miniature pre-fab steel trusses, is uncommon in Manhattan for reasons having to do with the building types and occupancies we have here. Here’s a close-up where you can just make out the truss closest to me:

You never know until you see it.


March 15, 2019

Engineers share one trait with large-animal veterinarians: when we want to see our subjects in person, we have to go to them because they can’t come to our offices. “The Building Inspector as Action Hero” in the New York Times discusses two issues: the importance to the safety of NYC of having tall-building facades inspected […]

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Playing Detective

March 12, 2019

Are you a college student or recent grad pursuing a career in #engineering? Visit DOB's table at the Manhattan College Spring Career Fair tomorrow, 3/12 1pm-4pm in the Bronx. And check out @DCAS #civilservice exams for info on Engineering Intern tests — NYC Buildings (@NYC_Buildings) March 11, 2019 First, the DoB can always […]

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A Mystery In The Snow

March 2, 2019

That’s a picture taken on yesterday morning’s walk to the office. A light snow was falling then, and it later switched to a drizzle before stopping, so there was never much accumulation. In any case, this is the Battery Park City promenade along the Hudson River. Like a lot of walkways in the city parks, […]

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A Data Point

February 25, 2019

That crack monitor was installed in the 1980s, something like 35 years ago, so it’s safe to assume that the crack in the plaster is at least that old. The monitor was epoxied into place, and it’s still holding on strong – I tried to move it any hand and couldn’t. So…what does it mean? […]

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February 22, 2019

I’ve put up so many photos of badly-weathered steel that is seems only fair to put up this one. You’ll need to click on it to expand it to see it properly. This is a roof spandrel beam on an office building downtown, uncovered for parapet reconstruction. There’s a column connection on the right and […]

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Some Recent History

February 14, 2019

I try not to shy away from unpleasant topics here, so I have to admit that’s me on my first facade project in 1988. What was going through my head at that moment was something along the lines of “What am I supposed to do about that?” but I did eventually figure out how to […]

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A Building Ghost Explains His Haunting

February 11, 2019

In a way, that’s the best ghost picture I’ve taken. It’s another old one, but it shows clearly how this phenomenon occurs. Here are the demonstrable facts: The building on the left is an architecturally-forgettable hotel constructed in 2001. The building on the right is a generic NY loft building constructed in 1918. Here are […]

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Three Eras Overlaid

February 8, 2019

That’s a picture of the cellar of a small commercial building in midtown, taken during a fairly extensive renovation in the 1990s. The metal framing is original, and consists of a round cast-iron column with a cast-iron base plate with vertical stiffeners (the spider-looking thing directly above the spray-painted X), a steel beam just inboard […]

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A Symphony In Brown

February 6, 2019

That image is appealing to me for its own sake, as a piece of found art, but it shows some of the difficulties in looking at old steel-frame buildings. First, the various shades of brown and tan from the steel are nearly the same as those from the terra cotta and brick. The fact that […]

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