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Re: seaint Digest for 28 Jun 2009

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Daryl, your comments are very correct.

We, on this list, have frequently discussed the poor engineering depiction
in the media when "design" and its consequences are described by a person
who is not typically in responsible charge of structural design. The
uninformed vomit from the commenters below the article on the Dallas News
web page are doing a marvelous hatchet job of everybody and everything
without even touching the real issues (e.g. questioning the ability of a
Canadian engineer to be licensed in Texas; attributing all blame to some
owner-lead conspiracy). Some of the comments on this list are not far
removed. Great PR.

I have mentioned this frequently on this list but I think that you need to
keep it in mind when reading these articles. It applies equally to
manufacturers of pre-engineered fabric covered buildings as well as
pre-engineered metal buildings:
-  The manufacturer, or their design engineer, in general, is not the
structural EOR and CANNOT act as EOR. The designers are employees of a
company that manufactures an engineered product;
-  Manufacturer's designers are frequently licensed in the jurisdiction of
the site but situations vary depending on the manufacturer and the
contractual obligations of the manufacturer to the project;
-  the project civil/structural EOR is responsible to define the loads,
quality and performance requirements of the manufactured product in the
specifications or tender documents that are provided to the manufacturer at
the time of quote/design;
-  Design/Build contractors may not provide an EOR to specify and monitor
the pre-engineered building supply but they can get sealed drawings from the
manufacturer. Situation is worse if the GC is buying from a building broker
that may not know their a$$ from a whole in the ground with respect to
building codes, design standards and manufacturer's procedures or abilities;
-  Building Authorities don't understand, nor do they want to know, the
contractual and professional liability obligations and assume that the
manufacturer's engineer (seal on drawing submitted) is the structural EOR.

The Dallas News stories are interesting but they will likely only shed light
on individuals, companies, building officials and processes. We will likely
never hear the real engineering post-mortem results from 2 (two)
design/reinforcement efforts on this project. The owner may have gotten what
they paid for - no more, no less.

The pre-engineered building industry has grown from modest roots: from metal
garages and fabric covered farm sheds to large, complex buildings. _SOME_
manufacturers have simply scaled up their commercial and design practices
without adequate recognition of the change in tolerable and controlling
influences. The manufacturer's have entered new markets that are as
unprepared to deal with pre-engineered buildings as SOME of the
manufacturers are unprepared to deal with the escalated requirements and
A project, especially a large structure, must have an independent
civil/structural EOR - the building authority must ensure that the
individual accepting responsibility is clearly identified and acknowledges
the obligation. The EOR must ask questions of the manufacturer and ensure
that they understand and are satisfied with the engineer designer's
responses. If you are the EOR and could not comfortably design a similar
structure, find a professional that is capable, to provide that support.

If nothing else, read the Preface to Newman's book.

My brain hurts and my fingers are growing numb.

Paul Ransom, P.Eng.
ph 905 639-9628
fax 905 639-3866

> From: "Daryl Richardson" <h.d.richardson(--nospam--at)>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
> Subject: Re: Update: Dallas Cowboys roof Collapse
> Bill,
> How do you interpret this article as someone "screwing up"?  I think
> you're being too gentle.
> I read the article as suggesting one or more persons not identified
> in the article as being
> a)  utterly incompetent,
> b)  extremely (maybe criminally) negligent,
> c)  greedy to the point of completely ignoring the safety of others, or
> d)  all of the above.
> Regards,
> H. Daryl Richardson
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Bill Polhemus" <bill(--nospam--at)>
> To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 9:05 PM
> Subject: Re: Update: Dallas Cowboys roof Collapse
>> How sad that the only time we get to read a "cool" article about our
>> profession, is when one of us screws up.
>> William L. Polhemus, Jr. P.E.
>> Via iPhone 3G
>> On Jun 28, 2009, at 12:11 PM, Stan Caldwell <stancaldwell(--nospam--at)>
>> wrote:
>>> There is a new and disturbing structural engineering article on the
>>> front page of the Dallas Morning News today.

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