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- To: <seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org>
- Subject: got my back?
- From: "Andrew Kester, PE" <akester(--nospam--at)cfl.rr.com>
- Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2006 21:55:08 -0400
I like to think of all of us structural engineers as being on the same side. But if you see something wrong, it is hard not to come off as the bad guy if you speak up, even though you are totally doing the right thing. I think this keeps a lot of us from sticking our necks out and blowing the whistle whenever we see something we may not like, understand, or agree with on someone else's drawings or projects. For me this experience has happened more with perhaps well intentioned architects practicing outside their area of expertise and butchering structural drawings and details...
But early this week I went to look at a little misc lt gage framing I was going to do for a GC client. Not my favorite area of design but I like the client and it pays the bills. The overall project is an extensive facelift and renovation of a single story shopping plaza. There were three steel HSS framed towers about 30ft tall, we are in wind zone V=120mph. My part was to design the lt gage framing around a steel framed tower (wind loads only). They were already installing the light gage (I really love it when they do that, and then I design around them...), and the tower framing consisted of a square plan with 4 HSS columns and three rows of HSS beams (around the square) starting at 12+ ft. The connections were L2x2x1/4 on the bottom only. No diagonal bracing, no rods, and the densglass was decorative and would not offer lateral support. The adjacent structure was wood framed canopy that would not even come close to meeting current code, so I hoped they were not planning on help from that thing.
I did not tell the GC or the owner of my concern. I got the engineer of record's dwgs via a PDF and emailed them just saying I had some concerns and that I did not understand how the towers were laterally braced, but maybe I am missing something and reserve the right to be wrong. There was also no bracing or moment connections detailed on their dwgs, but I thought perhaps it had been addressed during the steel shop dwg process....
They responded within an hour, said they would look into it. By the end of the day I had received a couple more emails from them, with the final one they were preparing a steel plate reinforcement to provide moment resistance between the columns and beams and would send to the GC tomorrow. They were very polite, professional, and thanked me in each email.
I only wanted to share this story because I thought it may blow up in my face. You never know, and the ostrich syndrome comes naturally I think.. But this one I was involved in directly, it could cause major damage or loss of life, etc... Just nowhere to duck and hide. If those towers , worse case, racked during a hurricane, my name is all over the metal stud details.... Do you think a laywer might call me in that situation, or just sue the EOR?
Also, I believe in some form of what some people call karma, so I hope one day when I miss something like we all do occasionally, someone can get my back. Plus I am such a bitter pessimist about the goings on of this business (sometimes) that it really helped me be a little more positive. I thought well of this firm, who has multiple offices and is as I understand it well respected. I figured they would want to care or address a potential problem now before it gets covered up and is really expensive to fix. But it is nice when things go according to script.
Andrew Kester, PE
ADK Structural Engineering, PLLC
Lake Mary, FL
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