False Advertising

My stroll through the HABS/HAER index got me in one day from Fink Trusses to Flying Buttresses. That’s the Lafayette Square Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, built in 1879, changed to the St. John’s A.M.E. Church in 1929, and thankfully still there. It’s a very romantic Gothic-revival building, with one detail that nags at me. Here’s …

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Unslender Skyscrapers

The picture above is a 1900 Detroit Publishing portrait of the Ellicott Square Building in Buffalo, an 1896 building with a full steel skeleton frame, designed by D. H. Burnham & Co. of Chicago. It’s still there, and it shows up in The Structure of Skyscrapers. Of course, to modern eyes, it doesn’t really look …

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Analysis For Investigation 3

The examples of analyzing the structure of a building as you investigate that I discussed over the last two days were fairly straightforward in terms of calculations and were fairly forgiving in terms of accuracy. Today’s example is not, because it contains everyone’s favorite way to have numbers not work: non-linearity. If you look at …

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Analysis For Investigation 2

After yesterday’s long and somewhat esoteric discussion, a much more straightforward topic: what material is a beam? The piece of a photo above shows a metal frame being enclosed in masonry, where it will be hidden from view. How can you take an educated guess at the material (wrought iron or steel?; if steel, which …

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Analysis For Investigation 1

I’ve used the phrase “boundary conditions” in a number of blog posts, and it occurred to me recently that (1) its meaning is probably not clear to non-engineers, (2) its meaning to most engineers doesn’t help them understand the way it applies to our somewhat oddball work, and (3) it plays a vital role in …

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