Failure Portrait: Wow

I’ve typically been using photographs from our field work for these posts, but a picture on another site caught my eye and it deserves recognition. AbandonedNYC has beautiful pictures of buildings left to rot. Despite the name, they are not all in New York. This post contains one of the best illustrations I’ve seen of …

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Because we live in an era of rapid technological change, we are used to (if not necessarily comfortable with) the idea of obsolescence. When I started my first job as an engineer, our office relied on a mini-computer for heavy-duty analysis, and on paper and calculators for everything else. We had one phone for every …

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For someone working with old buildings, this picture (click on it for a larger version) tells a sad story: a 1920s skyscraper is being demolished. Of course, for someone working with new buildings, the story is a happy one: a 2010s skyscraper will shortly be built on this site. But that’s not what I want …

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Ransome Bar

We ask for probes on a regular basis, usually to find out what something useful about unknown hidden structure. On a recent project we asked for probes through a cellar slab. Our instructions were to remove the concrete while leaving the rebar in place, so the final probes looked like this: The rebar that was …

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The Past Is A Foreign Country

We are working on a project in  an 1890s apartment building where part of the scope is changing the windows in the penthouse. Most of the building has very heavy brick and stone exterior walls, but the penthouse (which may have been built later) has walls that are mostly terra-cotta block. There is a large steel …

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