Unintentionally – A Cautionary Tale

The picture above is not the building I’ll be talking about. It was simply the first one I came to in my collection that had bearing masonry arches. The building I’m talking about will remain nameless: it was large, owned by a non-profit institution, and located in upstate New York, and it was demolished some …

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Recent Inaccuracy

I’ve written here about accuracy in engineering calculations three times – in 2016, in 2018, and last year – and it seems it’s time to do so again. As was true before, it’s encountering the accuracy-based limits on meaningful results that has triggered this train of thought, so you can expect me to keep returning …

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The Whitestone Bridge As An Example

I want to expand on yesterday’s brief comment about the design issues with the Whitestone Bridge, because it illustrates not just a moment in the history info suspension bridges, but a never-ending tension in structural engineering. The picture above, from the 1991 HAER survey of the bridge, gives a good sense of its appearance. The …

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Fail Safe

I’ll be writing a few posts shortly on bowstring-truss roofs. A few years ago, we analyzed several of those structures and I happened to be walking by one during demolition recently and took a picture (which will be here real soon now). The somewhat impressionistic photo above shows a bowstring-truss roof that we investigated. But …

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Taxonomy, Maybe

If it’s difficult or impossible to easily categorize the structural types in buildings, as I suggested yesterday, then how do you do it? I guess the first question to answer is why would you do it? Being able to categorize the structure of existing buildings greatly speeds investigation, alteration design, and repair design. Since most …

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