Review Category : Articles

Taking Control of Business Expectations

Just the other day I was talking with a client and said, “I will fax that to you in a few minutes.” That might have been one of the first “senior moments” of my life, or at least the first I remember. I caught the mistake right away, and we both had a chuckle about how far technology has come in the course of our careers. However, the incident got me thinking about our use of technology.

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Part 1: Path to Code Acceptance

Nationwide, there has been an increase in the demand for multi-story mixed-use and multi-residential structures. Common configurations include up to five stories of residential use over retail, commercial, office, and parking occupancies, similar in configuration to the building shown in Figure 1. Podium designs are one way to maximize the number of stories, increase unit density, and lower construction costs. This article covers important design considerations and traditional approaches related to the design of a five-story wood-framed structure over a two-story concrete or masonry podium.

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In typical tilt-up construction, the slab-on-grade is the working surface for the lifespan of the building. Certain situations, such as otherwise inaccessible panel casting beds, demand the use of the slab as a path of access for construction vehicles like concrete trucks. These trucks, when full, can exert high loads and pose a risk to the slab’s serviceability.

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A Literature Review

Seismic building design has typically been based on results from conventional linear analysis techniques. This type of analysis is a challenge for the design of reinforced concrete because the material is composite and displays nonlinear behavior that is dictated by the complex interaction between its components – the reinforcing steel and the concrete matrix.

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In 2016, many organizations launched resiliency initiatives making “resilience” the new buzzword. In the building and infrastructure industry, resilience is defined in many ways. In 2014, the ASCE/SEI Sustainability Committee defined resilience as the ability to suffer less damage and recover more quickly from adverse events. These adverse events are not only external shocks in the form of natural or man-made disasters (hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, etc.), but also economic, social, political, and cultural adverse events that could damage the framework of a community. Today, this also includes the effects of climate change and the resulting rapid increase in the frequency of external shocks.

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When design professionals review proposed contracts with their risk management consultants, they are invariably told that they should look closely at provisions that could create uninsurable risk and negotiate better language. One issue that often arises is the language of the indemnification clause. The reason for this is simple – indemnification clauses can shift significant risks to the design professional, and these risks may not be insurable.

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The Industry Now and in the Future

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has moved the structural engineering industry to a time where changes and improvements have become constant. Structural engineers are continually adapting and improving, and the development plateau is nowhere in sight. The first big step was to adopt a three-dimensional (3D) software, such as Revit or Tekla. Switching software was a huge jump, and some structural engineers are still figuring out how to operate within that new tool.

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