Engineering

Road Trip: For Show Or For Blow

by Don Friedman on October 14, 2017


(Ignore the flying porpoises. I have no idea what they are.)

That’s the roof of a shopping mall in Ottawa. Are those trusses real structure or just for show? Their form (diagonals sloped for tension, deepest at midspan) and location (paired on either side of the columns) both make sense as real structure. If so, I have no idea why they’re exposed.

Also, the title of this post explained, here.

Flavors of Obsolescence

October 13, 2017

This article in Curbed gets the facts right but also, by accident, emphasizes a point of unclarity that has led to a lot of sensational headlines over the years. There are some 2000 bridges of various types in New York City, most of them small. It sounds horrifying that 76 percent are “functionally obsolete” and […]

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All In The Emphasis

October 2, 2017

I find this article in the New York Times about the recent earthquake in Mexico City to be problematic. To be clear, I claim no special knowledge of the quake itself or of Mexico City, but the building process is the same everywhere. To create a building of any significant size, we need a prospective […]

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Planning For Future Floods

September 30, 2017

The South Ferry subway station after Hurricane Sandy, courtesy of the MTA: Here’s a good article on infrastructure improvement, specifically on repairs to mitigate future disasters: 6 rules for rebuilding infrastructure in an era of ‘unprecedented’ weather events. The third rule, “Design for climate change” jumped out at me as it’s something we see every time we […]

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Not Amenable To Easy Analysis

September 27, 2017

Not our project: While discussing a project recently with our client, it became clear that part of our work was going to require arch analysis of a masonry lintel. (The project is a bit sensitive, so I’m going to be vague about the specifics of the location and owner, which fortunately does not require being […]

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A Rebus From 135 Years Ago

September 26, 2017

The engineering magazine ENR used to be called the Engineering News-Record. It was created in 1917 by the merger of two long-time rivals, the Engineering News and the Engineering Record. The Engineering Record went through a series of names early in its history, as it absorbed some other small magazines and searched for an audience. […]

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Historic New Structural Detail

September 19, 2017

Even though construction is still in progress – note the blue tarps and the chain fall – that is a beautiful sight that very few people will ever see. That is the inside of a newly-constructed onion dome. The old dome and cupola, which formed the steeple of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church in Elizabeth, […]

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A Site With Useful Information And An Unfortunate Name

September 14, 2017

Preservation engineering (or conservation engineering outside of North America) is relatively new and suffers from a number of problems common to newish subfields. The biggest problem, from my perspective anyway, is a lack of basic common information. If I want to explain to clients energy-code issues with glass curtain walls, there are any number of […]

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Historic and Modern Structural and Non-Structural Detail

September 11, 2017

I hope the title is broad enough…I wouldn’t want to leave anything out. This is a probe in the facade of the penthouse of a 1920s apartment house. The exterior of the masonry facade has been stuccoed, which is why the background is so white. The pipe in the lower right corner is part of […]

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Overdue Recognition

September 9, 2017

The Firth of Forth rail bridge now has a plaque regarding its recent elevation to World Heritage status. To revive an old joke, it’s the first forth bridge.

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