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RE: OMRF (R value)

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See comments below...

On Tue, 9 Jul 2002, Bill Allen, S.E. wrote:

> This is getting pretty ridiculous!
> Although I have a great deal of respect for Charlie Carter and AISC, I don't
> believe the "Code Gods" have appointed them the RULE OF LAW. Maybe much to
> the consternation of Charlie and AISC, the UBC is still the official code of
> California. I'm not sure if even the AISC Seismic Provisions have been
> officially adopted. It's hard to say since, beginning with the 1997 UBC, no
> off year amendments are being offered. What are we designers supposed to do?
> Tell our clients that we need to design our OMFs for 29% higher forces
> (4.5/3.5) because Charlie Carter tells us to? Even when our CURRENT BUILDING
> CODE does not require it? And, what happens if we don't? Do we subject
> ourselves to the scrutiny of some "Expert" witness who says we SHOULD HAVE
> designed our steel buildings to Supplement No. 2 (available only by download
> from the Internet, right?) and it's going to cost the owner $xx to bring it
> up to current seismic "philosophy"? What happens to those poor engineers who
> are not subscribed to this listserv? How are we supposed to maintain Quality
> Assurance in our structural engineering departments?

I will remind you that the code is still just a minimum requirements
document and that it also contains some "requirements" that we engineers
meet a minimum standard of care that may or may not be outlined by the
code provisions.  Thus, if there is knowledge out there that there is a
"better" way to do something (which can always be debated back and forth)
and that "better" way has been more or less "approved" by the profession
but not included in the codes yet, then it can be deemed in a court as the
"standard of care".

As far as those "poor engineers" not subscribed to the is my
believe that as a licensed engineer I have a responsibility to be aware of
the changes and advancements in my field.  This may mean that I will
likely have to be proactive in someway to keep abreast of the new
knowledge and technology since Charlie Carter and other don't have the
time or resources to swing by my house every once and a while to tell me
what is happening in steel design or concrete design, etc.  This will mean
that I will have to attend seminars, read magazines, look at code
development organization's websites to learn if there are some proposed
changes, join email lists such as this one, and other things in an attempt
to keep up to date.  To me this is part of my chosen profession.  So,
while I am certainly not saying that all structural engineers need to
participate on this list, there are many other ways in which they can
still try (and note that I say try because it is very difficult for anyone
to actually stay up to speed on all the structural engineering topics) to
keep up to speed on the changes in structural engineering.

> What has happened to the old fashioned code adoption process (with the
> review process of building officials, designers, manufacturers, etc)? Can
> AISC just publish a document and just declare it "State of the Art"?

Yes.  Many organizations just publish "State of the Art" reports,
specifications, and standards.  First, thing to release is that the
majority of the time Codes are _NOT_ State of the Art.  Due to the code
process, most code (standard) documents lack behind the knowledge in the
field.  It is usually a matter of how far behind, not if it is behind.
Take ACI as an example...many ACI committees produce reports that contain
much more "cutting edge" concrete technology than the ACI 318 code.  It
takes time for this information to make it to the code process and be
adopted into ACI 318 and other code documents.  This is largely because
sometimes the "cutting edge" has not been fully vetted and is not ready
for the primetime.  This is similar in many ways to the testing of new
medications before they are allowed to be used by the public.

As a side note, I will point out that many times the model building codes
may even have something more state of the art than the material standards
that they are based off of.  This can happen because a code change can be
proprosed on the floor of the code hearing and approved by ICBO or BOCA or
SBBCI even though the material organization's standard committee elected
not include it becasue it did not seem ready yet.  This has been a common
occurance with the UBC code in the past, especially with the concrete
provisions.  In the somewhat distant past this was essentially required
since the old ACI 318 documents were rather insufficient in terms of
seismic design/performance for concrete.  So, SEAOC would propose
additional concrete provisions from their seismology committee to be
incorporated into the UBC code.  Since that time, the ACI 318 committee
has become much more completely committed to the including seismic
design/performance in the 318 code and modifcations at the UBC level have
become virtually no existant due to an actually need due to lack in the

> I say let's get our ducks in a row, collect all the good research and get it
> submitted to the next edition of the code. In the meantime, lets stand by
> the latest printed document. They come out every six years or so (at least
> here in CA).

While in many ways I agree with this to a degree, the approach of waiting
until every three years or six years has its own share of downsides.  I
like this approach because it allows engineers more time to get familiar
and USED to the new stuff in the code before it changes again.  In
otherwords, there is less playing of musical codes, which means less
chances of someone not understanding something new to the code that just
got changed on them and could change again very shortly.

However, this can also means that new knowledge that could substantially
reduce the risk of a structural failure could be known and approved and
ready to go, but just has not be put into the "offical" printed version.
Then you have a bad seismic event or hurricane and buildings collapse and
people are injured or killed, yet it turns out that the knowledge was
already there to have prevented the problems yet had not been printed in
the "offical" version.

For me, it ultimately turns out to be a fine balancing act between the

> Sheesh!
> Bill Allen, S.E.
> P.S. - the above "rant" was not meant to be critical of Charlie Carter, but
> to be seriously critical of the process. I personally am grateful to the
> contributions Charlie has made to this list.


Ypsilanti, MI

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