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- To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
- Subject: clay tile masonry (long)
- From: HP14X73(--nospam--at)aol.com
- Date: Mon, 4 Oct 1999 13:42:52 EDT
Here in the midwest (at least in Iowa), it seems that one can drive around out in the country side and see a fair number of silos located on the various farms. In particular, there still are a number of silos that were built using clay tile masonry. These are usually around 25 feet in diameter, 80 feet or so in height, and have a shiny glazed finish on the masonry units. They probably worked just fine until the roofs blew off or rotted away. It does seem that you hardly ever see one that is still in use, or with a roof still intact. The point of this whole long winded description is that I thought at one time someone (a state agency or agriculture group) had issued a warning to farmers about these structures because they have a nasty tendency to suddenly collapse, apparently without too much external influence. I presume any collapse was due to the deteriorated nature of the masonry which was probably caused in part by water infiltration once the roof was gone. In addition, I presume the clay tiles get punctured, or the glazing becomes deteriorated and really soft from cows rubbing up against them. I wonder about all this because I have just begun an investigation of a four story building (condo) here in Iowa, that is constructed with clay tile masonry bearing walls. It was designed by an intern of Louis Sullivan around 1908. It has a cement based stucco finish and some really poor details with brick masonry around the perimeter of the building and the windows. It is on the historic register, so we just can't go in and tear out the bad and put in the good, because that will change the original appearance (heaven forbid). Or better yet, take a bulldozer to it and eliminate the problem altogether. Instead, I have been hired by an architect who specializes in historic restoration. This means we have to go around and look at all the little details, talk in great length about it, agonize over every little detail, and then finally just bull ahead with some half-baked solution, all in the name of historic preservation. This brings me back to the collapsing farm silos. The clay tiles on the condo are really deteriorated at the first floor level underneath that stucco finish. There haven't been any cows loose in this area since around the turn of the century, so should I worry about sudden collapse of this building, or do we forge ahead and try to deal with the original lousy design details that were done by a high-buck architect who is now dead? Any opinions about clay tile masonry?? Les Kuehl, P.E. NNW, Inc. - Consulting Engineers Iowa City, Iowa
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