You are not exactly anonymous anymore. You have posted to the list (a very
public act), identified that the work is done for an architect you have done
and do work for (although the present issue is not your design). I would
expect that a few of those 10,000 list members that Shafat says are members
include a few practicing attorneys and/or attorney's investigators involved
with various types of engineering litigation. Since you have knowledge of a
potentially dangerous condition, I think you have placed yourself in harm's
way from a liability standpoint even if you do nothing further. I seem to
remember a California Attorney General's opinion a few years ago that may be
on point about knowledge of unsafe conditions and actions an engineer should
take. What I don't remember is whether it was limited to a condition where
the engineer was directly employed by the owner or not.
Bill Cain, SE
From: Caldwell, Stan [SMTP:scaldwell(--nospam--at)halff.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 18, 1999 12:37 PM
Subject: RE: Strange stuff that I don't understand.
John Ott wrote:
I do not know if software was used in the design of the building in
question. I simply know that whatever method was used does not work.
It would appear that the engineer that designed the structure for
building missed doing a careful design and the building department
simply didn't check it.
The building was permitted and is currently under construction. It
has what I would consider some serious design flaws....What do I do with the
heavy thought that this building may be designed to less than the Code
There are two items that concern me. They are:
1. The extremely tall (22' high) vertical walls that are only 8"
thick and are only anchored at the base to the foundation. [i.e. They are
cantilevered out of the foundation] Refer to my original post.
2. The apparent excessive roof deflection caused by the Architect
moving on the now constructed roof. The bracing system is a rigid frame
composed of 22' high W8x?? columns with a much larger beam. It doesn't look
right in the field, but worse the Architect claimed he could move the roof
structure 1/2" either side of a fixed reference point with simply his 190 lb
Appreciate your comments.
I don't think that you are going to like my comments very much! I
assume that you are a licensed professional engineer. As such, your duty to
the health, safety, and welfare of the public is paramount. Read the first
portion of the California (or any other state) PE rules and regulations,
it's right there in black and white. Your relationship with your client
pales by comparison. It does not matter that you are not the engineer-of
record. It does not matter that some building official permitted the
construction. The fact is that you have become aware of a situation that,
in your professional opinion, is unsafe.
It is your professional duty to take appropriate action (beyond your
posts to this listserv). I suggest that you first contact the architect and
state your concerns, both in verbally and in writing. He should at least
end up thanking you for alerting him to a potential threat to his practice.
However, if he isn't interested and doesn't propose to do anything, then
promptly contact appropriate city and/or state officials (again, verbally
and in writing).
Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.