Classification Is For Us Only

Or, more directly: physical objects don’t care how we classify them. When I talk about structures here (or elsewhere) I try to classify them in a way that would be useful to a reader: a building has a frame or it has bearing walls, a bridge has a Pratt truss or it has a Howe …

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Correlation Is Not Causation, Iron Framing Edition

I’ve mentioned the Rookery in passing a few times. It’s a fantastic 1886 office building in Chicago and holds a place in any history of early skyscrapers. It’s not a skeleton-frame building and actually contains a number of masonry bearing walls, but, as I discuss in The Structure of Skyscrapers, having an old-fashioned structural form …

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Another Definition of Vernacular

The standard definitions of vernacular architecture include some variation on local tradition, design without architectural theory, built without an architect, and so on. All fair enough but the photo above – taken on a rainy day at 74th Street and First Avenue – raises another possibility. On the right, foreground, facing the avenue, we have …

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Structural Honesty Found In The Wild

I’ve attacked the concept of “structural honesty” in architecture here more than once, but every so often I hear someone use the phrase and feel like maybe I should give it another chance. I found an actual example – in a building that was unfortunately demolished in the 1950s, but was well-documented when it stood …

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