May 2011

Historic Structural Detail 1

by Don Friedman on May 31, 2011

In the course of building investigation, we see a lot of details that are no longer used. From time to time, we’ll post one here.

Cast iron columns were to some extent mass-produced, but the casting process allowed for easy customization. In the picture below, the beam seat that is cast integrally with the square column embedded in the wall has to support beams of two different depths. The seat was cast as a split-level, creating an elegant one-piece solution.

The round thing just above the beams is the column splice, consisting of round end plates cast integrally with the columns and field-bolted together.

Aging

May 26, 2011

Not us, buildings. It is amazing how fast buildings can age when they are not used, maintained, or mothballed. A few years ago, we were involved with a mid-1800s loft building that had been converted to apartments around 1970. Foundation damage from construction next door meant that the building had to be vacated and we […]

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“Bannerman’s Island”

May 23, 2011

One of our projects was given a slide show on the New York Times website yesterday. In unromantic terms, Pollepel Island has the ruins of an abandoned military-supply business, including the home of the business’s owner, Francis Bannerman, but it’s hard to discuss the island in those terms. To anyone who’s ever seen the island […]

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The Church of St. Francis Xavier Wins a Lucy Moses Award

May 16, 2011

The historic, Baroque-style Church of St. Francis Xavier on West 16th Street was completed in 1882 by architect Patrick Keely, and remains an integral part of the Chelsea neighborhood. The recent project included extensive cleaning and restoration of the ornate plaster and stone interiors, and structural work as part of reconfiguring the sanctuary by raising […]

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Design Intent Versus Common Sense

May 12, 2011

An engineering or architectural design has many components, one of which is intent. The designer has a goal in mind – which may not be obvious to someone looking at the design drawings or the completed construction – and that goal influences design decisions from beginning to end. There are occasions when the intent is […]

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Other People’s [Drafting] Standards

May 9, 2011

There’s nothing wrong with a little professional voyeurism, right? The now-universal use of computer-aided drafting means that we, as structural engineers, almost never create our plans from scratch. On nearly all projects, we receive architectural plans in the form of CAD files which we convert to use as backgrounds. We then draft the information which […]

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Cast Iron Facades

May 5, 2011

Our increasing involvement with the analysis and repair of cast iron buildings in New York City has allowed us to gain first hand knowledge of their structural behavior, which often entails partial dismantling for observation. Because we feel it is important to share what we have learned with other preservation professionals, hopefully augmenting their ability […]

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PS90 Wins A Lucy Moses Award

May 5, 2011

This conversion project took a 1905 New York City elementary school building, which had been abandoned since the 1970s, and restored it for use as a condominium. The original building was one of more than 400 designed by C.B.J. Snyder, New York’s chief architect for more than 30 years. Old Structures was responsible for design […]

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Under-appreciated Inefficiency

May 5, 2011

Efficiency is ordinarily a goal in any technological undertaking. We want our vehicles to be energy-efficient, our computers to be time-efficient, and our building designs to be simply “efficient.” But what does efficiency actually mean? Any design is a response to multiple criteria including the physical properties of materials, code requirements, costs, clients’ stated desires, […]

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Introduction

May 5, 2011

Welcome to the Old Structures blog. As is true of blogs in general, nothing here is graven in stone, but we’re going to post at least once every week and we’re not going to email announcements. If you want to add us to your reading schedule, there’s a “subscribe” button to the left. Given that […]

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