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RE: Lamella Structures

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Where are you located?
There are a few of these lamella structures around LA that I recall; an old theater in Pasadena on Colorado Blvd and the exhibit halls at Pomona Fairgrounds. Some of the old-timers remember how these went up, but it's just a little before my time. I'd be interested in hearing an explanation of how they built the multi-piece arch structures. Do they use scaffolding or forms to hold it all in place until the arch is complete?
Recently I toured the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. The entry portals to all of the tunnels over the Parkway are beautiful parabolic-curved stone arches. At a museum in Ashville we saw a detailed drawing of one of these stone arches built at the face of one of the tunnels. Each piece of the arch was drawn, showing all of the dimensions on each facet before the rock was cut. A precise wood false-work form was built to place the stones. Once in place the arch was self supporting. The interior of the tunnels were formed a bit more crudely of similar wood false-work forms, covered in corrugated steel and filled with rubble over concrete side walls. Each tunnel entry was unique, depending on the slope and pitch of the road, the angle of the mountain face to the road and the height of the tunnel. The illustrations really gave an appreciation for the precision with which they built these structures.

Dave Gaines, P.E.

Structural Project Engineer
HDR ONE COMPANY | Many Solutions
251 S. Lake Ave, Suite 1000
Pasadena, CA 91101
T: 626.584.4960
F: 626.584.1750
email: david.gaines(--nospam--at)


From: Donald Bruckman [mailto:bruckmandesign(--nospam--at)]
Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:49 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Lamella Structures

I came upon a lamella roof structure recently out of short lengths of 2x4 and diagonal sheathing, (circa 1940s, I’d guess) and it looked like it would be, on a small (residential) scale at least, relatively easy to put together, create large open spans without large beam sizes, and had an altogether cool look, but I immediately thought, “Lord, how would one calc such a thing to prove to the AHJ that it works?”  I checked the NET and could find a few projects with it, but no references about how to design them and a few sites that seemed to imply that small errors in assembly could create stability issues.  


Undeterred, I reason, “Heck, if 3 fingered carpenters in the field were throwing them up 70 years ago and they are still standing, how difficult to do and how unstable could they be?” 


Does anyone know of any books or literature titles that describes the engineering process(es) involved in designing stick framed lamella roof structures?  Seems like a lost art form…