Historic Structural Detail: Grillages

Just stating the facts of a piece of technological history can point up curiosities. Steel skeleton-frame construction dates to 1890, but reinforced concrete construction lagged behind; the details of steel framing developed into recognizably modern forms much faster than their concrete counterparts did. So…what did the columns of those steel frames sit on, if not reinforced-concrete footings …

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Talking in Virginia

I’ll be giving two talks about preservation engineering in Virginia next month: April 7 in Richmond, and April 8 in Norfolk. If anyone reading wants to say hello or come for a full-day seminar, I’d be delighted to see you. The two talks are at the gracious invitation of the Virginia Structural Engineers Council. Old …

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The Line of Force

As long as I’m rambling on about shoring, I’ll use this opportunity to make a point about how structure works. The picture below shows one piece of a shoring system we installed to keep the front facade, which was moving outward, from peeling off the building. The shoring system consists of horizontal steel braces that sandwich the …

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Historic Structural Detail: Some Artifacts Are Bigger Than Others

In most alteration projects, the first stage of construction is demolition of the interior finishes. When that work is done, we often find conditions that we did not know existed and would not have known with the demolition. Sometimes those conditions affect our work, sometimes they are simply artifacts showing us some information about how the …

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Near-Failure Portrait: Rusty

When I see rust on structural steel, it’s usually in a confined space. We find rust because the steel jacks apart the surrounding masonry or concrete as it turns into rust. When steel is exposed, it’s easier to find the rust and it’s easier to prevent it from getting worse by scraping and painting. Exposed exterior …

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