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seaint Digest for 23 May 2004

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A bit of perspective on an ongoing E-W discussion.  In California the
engineer designs the connections and provides details that allow the steel
detailer to work out the geometry and produce shop drawings.

This system is followed for architecturally complicated structures as well
as for more normal structures.  I have used this approach on very complex

It is my observation that on the East Coast that the engineer spends more
time dealing with simple steel connections than we do on the West Coast. 
The secret is to develop typical details and verify that the member
reaction is less than the capacity.  Often times the selection of a
slightly deeper beam, that allows for an extra bolt will solve the problem.

It should be kept in mind that designing the connection does not mean that
you work out all of the geometry but rather you need to give the Detailer
the information he needs without having to hire an engineer.

I suggest that if you design the connections that you will have fewer
constructabilIity problems.

It is often suggested that letting the Contractor design connections saves
money.  If this is true than I would expect that steel construction would
be more expensive in the West Coast after you account for differing wage
rates etc.  Does AISC have any information.  Remember that when the
Fabricator designs connection he has to pay for an engineer to design them
and then has to wait for the designs to be approved before starting shop
drawings.  This all costs money.

Designing connections is a skill but for those that want to learn AISC has
a number of manuals that tell you all that you need to know.

Mark Gilligan

Message text written by INTERNET:seaint(--nospam--at)
>ubject: steel connections/ fabricator
From: "Andrew Kester" <akester(--nospam--at)>
To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>

Scott clarified my point very well (thanks) about steel connections, I =
guess it was Friday and I was busy so I did not explain myself well. I =
don't know if their is a nationwide standard on this issue, but it has =
been talked about a lot in this office. Also, I am new to this office =
and at my old office we did much smaller jobs so it was no big burden to =
pretty much show all the steel connections in some detail. At the new =
office our projects may not all be high rise but are definitely more =
complicted architecturally.
 My first project that I helped design is in the construction phase and =
I had to review the shop drawings, so this was a fresh experience to the =
complexity of some of the connections. Also I am not completely familiar =
with all of our office standards as well. We dictate certain tasks to =
the fabricator and his specialty engineer, and we are now putting =
ultimate reactions on all of our steel to steel connections. We also =
include standard connection schedules that cover 90% of the situations. =
But as far as I know, we do not detail every connection or consider =
every fit-up situation. We do consider constructability as much as =
possible, but I saw on this project where we could have done a better =
job of considering fit-up and connections. We had a great fabricator, =
and I spent a lot of time checking all of his connections and running =
calcs and checking w/ the AISC book as necessary to verify they met our =
design intent. But I found this to be much more economical and efficient =
then spending the time during the design phase trying to design for =
every situation.
I did not realize this was a East coast practice, but it seems that it =
is very acceptable in FL at least to let the fabricator choose the =
connections and detail them to their liking, and we check them for =
design intent. Of course we are not off the hook nor are we trying to =
shove responsibiltiy elsewhere, even though I can see someone taking it =
that way. We feel that they are the experts in steel connections, =
details, and fit-up, so that is a task best handled by them. Honestly, =
maybe you guys are used to detailing some of these types of connections, =
but I wouldn't want anything to do with them (like a beam framing in at =
15 degrees or less), it just gives me a headache thinking about. Just =
like on a concrete job I would not want to detail every bar length.
If anyone sees any problems or issues with these comments I would love =
to hear about them, and so would my bosses/coworkers as this is an =
ongoing discussion.

Andrew kester, PE

Longwood, fl


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