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Re: Concrete Masonry Load Bearing Buildings

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I prefer steel for the flexibility. 
Cost can sometimes be more depending on whether there are block walls as
partitions. Sometimes not.
Steel definitely has been preferred by contractors for fast tracking as the
roof gets on quickly and more trades can start working at the same time and
faster. Several jobs we have done originally with block load bearing
corridors the contractor project manager had us change to steel with
non-load bearing block walls. We eliminated strip wall/footings and added
piers. Floor thickening only for non-load bearing block. Was cheaper
slightly but improved scheduling.
I like nailing down the grids and brace locations as soon as possible.
Sometimes with block walls, openings are being moved constantly requiring
redesign of lintels. A wall you may have considered very important to your
lateral load resisting system suddenly gets erased by the
architects...redesign yet again.
Both systems can adequately resist the loadings provided enough continuity
exists between levels to give enough locations for shear resistance.
Steel is easier for quality control in my opinion.
If block partitions are used with steel then the second floor steel can get
heavy because of deflection control.
Get in on the layout early!!! Last job we did had corridors and classroom
walls from 1st to 2nd not lining up. Steel was the only reasonable option.
If the building is very simple and boxy (<-- new word for the day) then
block can be a reasonable approach.
Massive openings also more of a concern with the block approach. 

Just a few thoughts
Dave Handy, P.Eng 

At 10:04 AM 10/7/99 -0400, you wrote:
>I am a structural engineer employed by an architectural firm. We do mostly
>education (80%) and medical facilities (20%). Recently the partners of my
>firm requested we do schools as masonry load bearing rather than steel
>frame due to costs. Our projects are all in the north east and usually 1 to
>3 stories. I don't really care for the load bearing system. Perhaps it's
>because I am so accustomed to doing steel frame. It seems I can handle
>lateral loads and changing roof and floor elevations better with steel.
>Does anyone have any thoughts on masonry load bearing vs steel?
>- Cost, steel vs masonry?
>- Resistance to seismic and wind loads?
>- Quality control of construction?
>- Anything to look out for?
>- etc etc
>Randy Diviney
>Structural Engineering Dept.
>Hayes Large Architects
>Altoona, Pa