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- To: ShermanWC(--nospam--at)cdm.com, seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org, jbkse(--nospam--at)earthlink.net
- Subject: corrected version : corrections in caps
- From: RGRAYAIA(--nospam--at)aol.com
- Date: Sun, 1 Oct 2000 01:11:44 EDT
Dear Mr. Williams: Your proposal is well-intentioned, obviously well thjought-out and expressed, and I am generally in favor of the concept. I thank you for raising the issue. However, it's not something to which one can respond in a hurry, although no response at all is regrettable and near-unforgiveable. Ours is a profession? Over two weeks! I apologize for all of us. We've got to get our act together in many aspects, and your proposal is a start on one of them. Even if one were to disagree by 180 degrees, it's one of the things we must discuss on a planetary scale, because that's the scale of the problems we have to solve, and fast. The points raised below, being hasty, are obvious, and perhaps I misread or misinterpreted things, but we can get something started, at least, even if it's just correcting me. I am not sure whether you intend this to be a set of legal requirements or a rule of conduct within the profession. I much prefer the LATTER, and the following is mostly devoted to that concern. The FORMER is fraught with danger. By definition, the law (the building code is law) is vulnerable to political and economic tinkering by the ignorant &/or ill-intentioned as well as the informed and responsible. The vast increase of wasted energy through flawed energy regulations written by single-minded zealots and prefab windows is an example. I have the impression your organization is usually prime designer. My work as architect and SE has been in building construction, where the engineers are usually consultants to an architect as prime (whether for good or ill). The AIA abdicated enforcement of ethical standards because it gave up on accusations that those standards constituted restraint of trade. It is, then, an awkward situation for engineers to develop this proposal without them, since for many of us, they are our clients. Further, the law is ponderous and totally unpredictable. I haven't asked recently because it's too depressing, but the California Supreme Court has (or was about to or whatever) ruled that it's OK for the contractor to leave out tie-downs in earthquake country because until the earthquake, no harm has been done. I'm sure they'll see an opportunity fur further mischief by ruling that fire resistance is unenforceable, and then move on to attempted murder. The standard of care issue as it stands is most easily approached in litigation by answering the question of whether the law (the code) has been violated. But that in itself is often very hard to establish, since the code masquerades as a technical rather than legal document, and its language is imprecise and sometimes undefinable and keeps getting more so. It's use as a publication device for research papers doesn't help, either. It is harder to depend on definitions of local practice as standard of care. What is local? Where's the border? Shall we include anthropology and sociology in the code? What is practice? Academic research where responsibility is not enforceable? Running a steel detailing shop? Since the definition of truth in civil law is preponderance of evidence, two experts, or the same expert on two occasions, can disagree by any e however small but >0. The jury then makes a decision on based on which expert is the cuter. Using the code to rule on matters of design and construction is a chancy business. I've got to get back to work now. More anon. Gary Ralph Gareth Gray AIA ASCE Architect, Civil & Structural Engineer 1001 Merced Street Berkeley, CA 94707 510-524-8958
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