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RE: Sign Structures

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I agree that learning from failures is the traditional and definitive "lessons learned" for structural engineers.  Unfortunately, any significant failure will result in law suits.  Law suits make engineers circle the wagons and most of us are left on the outside wondering what happened. 
The few things that I know is that the top 100 feet of the original sign collapsed in July of 1994 and the wind velocities were less than the design load.  A new one was constructed in 1997. 
There was litigation that lasted until 2004.  There is an interesting paper that includes a synopsis at:
The write up source was:
Finley A. Charney, G. Brent Norris, and James Robert Harris, "On the Collapse of the Las Vegas Hilton's Spectacular Sign", Proceedings of the Structural Engineers World Congress, (San Francisco, CA 1998).
Finley Charney is a professor at Virginia Tech and Jim Harris has his own business in Denver. 

Harold Sprague

> From: dmitri(--nospam--at)
> To: seaint(--nospam--at)
> Subject: RE: Sign Structures
> Date: Mon, 3 Mar 2008 06:40:15 -0800
> I have heard references to this sign failure for years, but I have never
> been able to find any written documentation of it. Does anyone know if
> there was a report issued on the investigation, or coverage in any of the
> engineering journals?
> It's always easier and much more painless to learn from other's mistakes.
> Dmitri Wright
> From: Harold Sprague <spraguehope(--nospam--at)>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
> Subject: RE: Sign Structures
> --_f5b48388-e047-4954-b860-017799d95e84_
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
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> The sign in question does not warrent a dynamic analysis, but there are sig=
> ns along the strip in Las Vegas that sometimes are evaluated in wind tunnel=
> s with modifications at the base to determine a dynamic response. =20
> =20
> The Hilton sign in Las Vegas is 279' tall with a terrible plan and elevatio=
> n aspect ratio. The sign it replaced blew down in a wind storm. Regards,H=
> arold Sprague

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