Masonry

Historic Structural Detail: Vaulting Upwards

I’ve mentioned the circa-1900 use of Guastavino vaulting to provide steel-free solutions to common structural problems. To repeat my early comment, even though we think of thin-shell masonry vault as a large-structure technique, it was used in various niches as an ordinary structural form. My favorite Guastavino structures are right-angle and switch-back stairs, where the …

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Historic Structural Detail: A Clever Composite

We live in an age with two overwhelmingly dominant fire-rated floor systems: concrete in metal deck in steel-frame buildings, and formed, bar-reinforced concrete slabs in concrete-frame buildings. (Plywood deck is used with wood and light metal joists, but that’s not are rated.) The past was more complicated. There were dozens of floor systems in use …

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Failure Portrait: Bad Neighbors, Broken Mortar

Paint does almost as good a job showing movement as does plaster. Since the top of the building isn’t moving up, we know that we have movement of the bottom of the wall down, and that the movement is worse on the right than the left. In this case, there was no search for the …

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Before Gyp Board

The picture below is in a fairly typical “pre-war” apartment house in Manhattan, after interior demolition has been completed for an apartment renovation. The building has a steel frame, concrete floor slabs, and a brick curtain wall. (Two concrete-encased steel beams are visible at the top of the photo.) The partitions shown are a fire …

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