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Happy Thanksgiving

by Don Friedman on November 23, 2017

Relating Damage To Structural Type

November 22, 2017

Some stereoscopic views of Chicago after the 1871 fire: That’s the kind of devastation that a firestorm can cause. But it’s worth noting that different types of building fail differently. Nearly every building in Chicago before the fire was either of wood-stud construction (private houses and small commercial buildings) or of masonry walls with wood […]

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Temporary Until It’s Not

November 21, 2017

That’s the underside of a highway overpass. It’s old enough that the built-up plate girders that are the main structural elements are riveted together rather than being bolted or welded. The concrete deck looks very new and is a replacement. Since water and (in the past) road salt attack this structure from the driving surface […]

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What’s Been Lost

November 20, 2017

The green glass-walled building straight ahead is 2 Broadway. It’s as close to a generic circa-1960 office high-rise as you can get. There’s nothing about it that’s inherently bad…except….it was built on the site formerly occupied by the Produce Exchange. Here’s the Exchange, designed in the 1880s by George Post: In short, we lost a […]

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Form Follows Function

November 19, 2017

The 1896 window sill in the picture above may be the most perfectly designed piece of architecture in the city. It’s there to provide a base for the wooden window frame, to protect the relatively porous brick from water infiltration from above, and to shed water. It had to be built into the solid brick […]

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Something New

November 18, 2017

The idea of using LEGOs to provide temporary repairs to damaged masonry is either genius or moronic. I alternate between the two opinions.

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Better Demographics

November 17, 2017

I’ve recently read two articles that superficially are on different topics but go together well: Curbed on Tiffany Brown encouraging architectural careers for African-American women, and at the other end of the social spectrum, the Harvard Business Review on the benefits of diversity. The issues in engineering are similar in effect but different in detail from […]

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An Inelegant But Effective Solution

November 16, 2017

Following the Halloween driving attack on the bike path along the Hudson River, people immediately started discussing the issue of how to protect the path from vehicles. This is related to the long-standing issue of separating pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorized vehicles on New York’s crowded streets. It is therefore related to the city’s Vision Zero […]

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When Is An Arch Not An Arch?

November 15, 2017

That’s the F/G subway, paralleling 9th Street in Brooklyn, where the tracks cross over Fourth Avenue. The train is elevated here because it crosses over the Gowanus Canal a little to the west at the Smith/9th Street station. As the tracks head east, to the left, they stay at roughly the same elevation as the […]

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Changing Fashions

November 14, 2017

The black paint and lighting make the picture a little hard to read, but this is an old gentleman dressed up in the latest fashion. The building is 2 Rector Street, now known as 101 Greenwich Street*, a 1905 office building that was expanded vertically in the 1920s. It’s a fairly typical building of its […]

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