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Lateral Load--Is it THE Design?

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Is it just me, or is everyone here pretty much resigned to the fact that lateral loads dicate maybe 80% of our efforts?


Of course I know those of you on the Left Coast who do commercial & facilities design know this because of seismic, but even those doing residential there admit that wind loads tend to govern their designs, and they still spend the greater portion of their efforts in this.


This comes to mind because in talking with typical clients, they just don’t seem to “get it.” They say “why are these roof purlins so big? There’s not that much load on them!” and I have to tell them about design for wind. They say “but it doesn’t get that windy here!”


Now, how silly a comment is that? Ask the folks in Gulf Shores, AL, just how “windy” it got last night! When I say to them that we have to design for hurricanes, they act like I’m just being outrageously conservative.


I have begun telling them that lateral loads account for the majority of building structural failures (I’m flying by the seat of my pants here; I have no way of knowing if this but every time I see photos of devastation it’s hurricane or earthquake).


Anyway, just thought I’d solicit some comments on this topic.