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Re: Concrete vs. Steel

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Scott:

The decision to choose one material over the other depends on alot of
factors (as I am sure it does in other parts of the country and the
world). I will try to reiterate some of these factors for you. Some of
the factors that affect our chose of materials include: loads (static
and dynamic), span, required performance (service life, movement,
vibration, abuse,etc.), environment, fire rating, speed of fabrication,
delivery and construction, experience of workers in the local area,
available materials, manufacturers and contractors, repetition
(especially important in formed concrete structures), weather related
costs, weight of the structure (this may affect the number of floors or
may require a more expensive foundation system), plan shape(curved or
linear), wall locations, offsets, load transfers and floor to floor
height of the structure, ability to accomodate mechanicals and of course
total building cost (not total structural cost).

Most buildings in our area are low rise (under 10 stories) and most
likely will go with steel.  Hospitals with enough form repetition will
go poured in place concrete. Multi story hotels (with repetition) will
be precast or poured in place. Parking garages (with repetition) will go
precast or poured in place concrete. Schools will probably be load
bearing masonry, precast plank and bar joist roofs. Some small one or
two story commercial and  residential buildings will probably be wood
frame. Short span bridges will be poured in place slabs with or without
precast girders. Longer spans will be steel girders.

I actually enjoy designing in all types of materials since the
challenges are different for each.

Jim Kestner, P.E.
Green Bay, Wi.