The Zeitgeist Some 130 Years Ago

First, the handsome fellow in the picture above is Mark Hipwell, who graciously took time off from his packed schedule – he’s an engineer, and a foodie, and an artist, and an ambassador for his home city – to show me around Birmingham last week. The Birmingham building behind him has a construction date of …

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Perfect, Buried, and Wrong

I discussed inverted-arch foundations a while back and wanted to briefly return to the topic with this picture. That’s a beautiful example of an inverted arch, carrying the load from two piers in a church apse. The most important thing about it is that it has performed its job properly for over one hundred years. …

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An Extreme Rarity

That picture was taken in a theater attic. The diagonals on the upper right are portions of the timber-framed roof; the wall separates the auditorium area from the lobby. It’s the thing embedded in the wall that is rare and odd. In short, that’s the end of a long-span steel truss (over the auditorium, on …

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An Old Problem Exacerbated

Yesterday’s picture of the St. Paul Building (repeated above) had an interesting detail in the background. The problem of how tall a chimney should be has been around ever since people started building cities: it has to be tall enough so that smoke (and potentially burning cinders) don’t blow onto a neighbor’s roof or into …

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