Wrought Iron

A Subtle Hint

That picture was taken in a mid-to-late-nineteenth-century industrial building, on the top floor with only the attic above. The exposed wood beam is about 8 inches wide and 12 inches deep but appears to span some fifty feet, which is obviously ridiculous. The building has a gable roof so the most likely bet is that …

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Know any blacksmiths? There’s a job opening right now with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. This might sound like a joke* but it’s serious. Blacksmiths shape iron and steel in complex three-dimensional configurations that are not easily achievable using other methods. The introduction of CAD/CAM cutters allows for extremely complex and …

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Historic Structural Detail: Geometric Strength

Some structural forms are more efficient than others. For example, roof trusses tend to be deep (vertically) relative to their spans. Trusses can be examined at two scales: at a small scale, member by member and connection by connection, or at the overall scale, where they are analogues of beams. It’s at the overall scale …

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Historic Structural Detail: A Composite Arch

One of the earliest challenges for structural engineers – long before the profession formally existed – was how to support masonry walls over openings. The tight column spacing of Greek and Egyptian temples, for example, was based in part on the limited spanning capacity of stone beams. Masonry arches, as used by the Romans, could span …

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