Our Newest Code For The Library

Our office library now has a copy of the 1956 concrete code, ACI 318-56: First, as a fan of typography, I have to ask: could that cover be any more evocative of the 50s? More important is the issue of legitimation. The ACI code has always been meant to be an adjunct to local (or …

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Historic Structural Detail: Smooth

Revisiting old debates can be a bizarre experience. Outcomes that we take for granted because the debate was over long before we were born are being argued as if the answers are unknown. That happens, of course, because the answers were not known at the time the debates were taking place. We benefit both from hindsight …

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Rationalizing The Minimum Higher

It’s something of a cliché to note that engineers go through an apprenticeship, where we learn to apply the analysis and sign techniques we learned in college to real-life situations. Many of the differences between theory and practice are subtle, but I want to discuss an example that was as unsubtle as it gets. In 1987, …

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Defending Brutalism

What can you say about an often-hated architectural style, when even its name is misunderstood? (Brutalism is not the same thing as brutalism.) I took the pictures of the Orange County Government Center (below) three and half years ago, before the decision was made to greatly alter Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist office building. I’d seen pictures …

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Historic Structural Detail: The Ghost of a Barrel

Not every detail is important today, but they all exist for a reason. How did concrete contractors create round columns before reusable steel forms? The portion of this 1910s column at the top of the photo is still covered with plaster. The plaster has been removed at the bottom, showing the board marks. The vertical …

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