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Re: Details, Struts, Thrust, Etc.

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I would believe that some of the reason older buildings remain come from lessons learned by trial and error.  However, I think a larger part of it comes from just taking pride in one's work, which seems to be lacking today.  I've visited construction sites for a range of project types and make mental notes on which buildings I do not want to use.  There is a lot more emphasis on getting a project done quickly - meaning profitably - than on coming home at the end of the day and feeling satisfied in the work you did that day.  I have seen quite a few mistakes in the field in which a poor attempt was made to cover it up or fix it based on what a contractor thought would work.  Although life overseas may move slower relative to the states, it seems to provide the environment in which 800-year old castles can be built.  We may have more immediate results, but we also have to try and anticipate what mistakes will be made during design.

>>> chrisw(--nospam--at) 07/18/03 12:55AM >>>
>I figure that the guys who built these houses were somehow
>mentally wired by experience or dna to intuitively understand where the
>forces went and what it took to provide structural stability.
I used to think that's how the old cathedrals were built--the touch of
the master's hand. Turns out more than a few of them had problems ranging
all the way to total collapse.

No doubt the builders who put those places up, like the ones who built my
kids' houses in 1904 and 1920 something, knew their business, but I
suspect they learned it from their own mistakes and, if they were very
smart, the mistakes of others. I spent a few weeks in the UK marvelling
at the Tower of London and other old buildings and castles. One of the
most impressive was Caerphilli Castle just north of Cardiff. It was built
to put the fear of the Normans into the Welsh, and it must've done that,
judging by my reaction, because it was never taken by storm. It did have
serious structural problems apparently resulting from settling. One large
tower has tipped about 10 degrees and there are cracks in the walls, that
look like settlement. Still--it's stood for 800 years, and probably would
withstand an attacks today like the ones it withstood in the 13th and
14th century. wales is full of places like that--they're truly magic.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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