OSE Blog FAQ

by Don Friedman on May 8, 2017


Seeing as how we’re north of 500 blog posts (as of May 2017), it’s probably too late for a Frequently Asked Questions post, but here it is anyway.

  • This is the blog of Old Structures Engineering. Most of the posts are written by me (Don Friedman) but not all.
  • Topics include pretty much anything touching on civil engineering, history, historic preservation, and New York City, with special emphasis on topics that combine two or more of those basic issues.
  • We generally put up one post per day, skipping holidays, but that can change.
  • Posts are usually written a week or two before they are published.
  • Unattributed pictures are either ours or in the public domain.
  • Clicking on pictures usually gets you a larger version of them.
  • We don’t allow comments because we’re busy working on engineering projects and don’t have time to address comments. That said, if you take the time to email us about something in the blog, we’ll respond.
  • This post will stay at the top of the heap for now. New posts will appear below.

An Alarming Symptom, Maybe

October 23, 2017

Sometimes issues during an investigation aren’t clear. That picture is the entry to an abandoned church and that’s a really odd crack in the floor. I was there to do the most basic type of conditions assessment – hazard to the public or not? – and since the building was closed to use, the only […]

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A Day In The Life

October 22, 2017

Times Square circa 1910 above, and as it is today via the Guardian. Entertainment is entertainment.

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Nature Reclaims

October 21, 2017

Good article and pictures of the Ridgewood reservoir on the Brooklyn/Queens border: here. Abandoned as a reservoir, it’s reverted to nature in a short amount of time. This topic has been the subject of some fascinating thought experiments, but here’s a real-life example.

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Telegraphing Through

October 20, 2017

Another artistic photo, this time of one face of a party wall in a rowhouse. If you look closely (click on the picture to expand it), you’ll see that the plaster is well-adhered to the brick. The plaster didn’t fall off in that one area, it was removed. Why? Because the presence of that long, […]

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Different Types of Efficiency

October 19, 2017

I seem to keep coming back to train station roofs as I write. That’s happening partly because I travel by train a good amount so I’m looking at those roofs, and partly because they tend to have exposed structure designed by engineers with little or no separate architectural design, which may not make them beautiful […]

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This Is Ungood

October 18, 2017

From a few years ago, some rotting wood beams and a failing brick pier. In 1989, I performed a long and difficult site visit to check on a structure I won’t name (confidentiality is still in place, even after all these years) that had to be reviewed once per year. The fellow who had been […]

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Detailing For The Forces

October 17, 2017

A big part of structural design is “detailing,” which is drawing the way various pieces of a building  are connected. The bridge above (click to enlarge all of the photos) is in Wrocław and has a shorter span than the average American suspension bridge of any era. I walked over it a number of times […]

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Road Trip: An Orphaned Wall

October 16, 2017

Seen on the street in Ottawa… I’ve mentioned orphans walls once before. They are what’s left when old walls are incorporated into new buildings in a manner that makes it difficult or impossible to demolish the wall when the original building is demolished. In this case, the light-red wall with white trim obviously belonged to […]

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Road Trip: Hanging

October 15, 2017

That’s a picture of three men on bosun’s chairs cleaning a glass curtain wall in central Ottawa. Bosun’s chairs have fallen out of favor in New York, so I don’t get to see this very often. A fifteen-story or so building like this back home would have either tracks for a scaffold built into the […]

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Road Trip: For Show Or For Blow

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, […]

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