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RE: Architect cheating on structural calculations - where's the building depa...

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A good plan reviewer will at least do a quick check to see if stuff stacks
and do a quick check that stuff fits and dimensions appear correct.  When I
was reviewing complicated projects we traced the structure above on vellum
and overlayed it on the structure below. From personal experience I agree
always check your own dimensions.

Working for the local government there were times when you felt a push from
the management on the plan reviewers to do a minimal review to expedite the
permit process and not write comments that do not add value / upset the
designers. The faster a review, the less reflection time, the fewer issues
will be spotted.


-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com] 
Sent: Thursday, December 08, 2005 8:04 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Re: Architect cheating on structural calculations - where's the
building depa...


On Dec 8, 2005, at 7:16 AM, Ray Pixley wrote:

> I agree with a lot of your stuff, but what I haven't seen yet are 
> suggestions for other ways to address the concerns that should be 
> looked at.
Very tricky because what you're looking for is a means to ferret out 
the unexpected. Errors are easy to find if you know where to look. 
That's the fundamental problem--finding something non-obvious that's 
not supposed to be there.

Arithmetic checks are easy. Dimensioning errors and stack-up problems 
used to be easy to find when there was a senior drafter assigned as a 
checker--checkers tended to know where things get screwed up because 
it'd happened before. Makes me think that the first requirement is that 
design reviews be done with a few people as possible, all of whom are 
senior enough to have made plenty of mistakes of their own.

Project post-mortems are really great tools to memorialize what went 
wrong as well as what might have gone wrong in successful projects. 
Engineers don't do enough of this kind of retrospection these days, 
except for some of us who are inclined to dwell on dodged bullets and 
what might have been. I think good checkers and reviewers also tend to 
remember embarrassments and learn from them.

You can't rely on systems and procedures--checklists, meetings, process 
specifications, for example. Systems are systematic--errors and flawed 
thinking aren't. Procedures don't each critical thinking or skepticism, 
both of which are absolutely vital to proper design review, although 
unfashionable in business circles.

The flaw in this is that management doesn't think this way. Managers 
like hierarchy, systems, metrics and policies and they're much better 
at laying blame after the fact than avoiding problems. Another major 
difficulty is managers  who think that CAD and FEA software eliminates 
errors just because computers can do arithmetic and render models so 
well. Checking is seen as non-productive and finding errors has a 
negative connotation. No prizes for uncovering the fatal flaw, but 
plenty of money for damage control after your customer finds it. 
Embarrassment is something to be swept under a rug, not learned from.

> Unfortunately, the current approach is just like Churchhill's quote on 
> how great democracy is.
Except for two things--democracy works and contains the means to fix 
itself.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 
1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw/


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