The Engineer’s Eye View

by Don Friedman on May 22, 2017

I took that picture last summer, while performing a facade inspection from a telescoping hydraulic lift. The right side of the picture is the last section of the arm, with the joint in the lower right the connection from the arm to the bucket; the white section of arm vertically in the center is the second to the bottom. The flagmen down in the street were making sure traffic – and particularly busses – went around the lift base.

Very few design professionals set out to climb buildings or go high in lifts or scaffolds.* Buildings have an unfortunate tendency to not make themselves available for investigation at our convenience: we have to go to them and see them where they are. That means sometimes going up high, sometimes going underground, and always getting dirty.

I mentioned this photo of Isambard Brunel once before, and, other than the cigar, it remains a good role model for engineers on site: focus on your work and ignore the mud.

* The few who do set out for that kind of challenge often work for specialized firms.

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