Failure Portrait: It Doesn’t Quite Fit

I haven’t done one of these in a while, partly because of the Covid-19 lockdown and partly because of the luck of the draw in which projects I’ve visited. I like this photo because the failure is quite subtle but also completely visible. That’s a piece of a stone-masonry facade, visible up close from a …

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…And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

I’ve been posting the Construction History series while New York is on PAUSE, in part because without site visits I have a lot fewer photos that are new and interesting, and in part to keep things light. We’re continuing, mostly from home, on design and other work that doesn’t require our presence on site. (As …

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Old Forensics and Current Ethics

I spent some time yesterday reading about an interesting issue concerning an old and famous disaster. The name “the Johnstown Flood” is well-known, but the details of the 1889 dam failure that killed over 2000 people are not so much any more. In short, western Pennsylvania is rough terrain, with narrow river gorges cutting through …

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Facade Inspection and Public Safety

I’ve been meaning to write about the currently-hot topic of facade inspection for about a month, and yesterday’s Times made it a lot easier. The headline “Facades on 1,400 Buildings in New York Are a Threat to Pedestrians” might seem like clickbait, but it’s an accurate statement of the official Department of Buildings perspective. Matthew …

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Indicative Stripes

Yet another photo off of a rooftop, this time on the Upper West Side. You can’t really tell from this angle, but those buildings are all ten to thirteen stories high, and they’re all steel-frame with brick curtain walls. We’re looking at the rear facades, facing the interior of the block. First, most of these …

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