Monthly Archives: December 2010

Clean and Green Magazine

I had not heard of Clean and Green Magazine until today. So sorry if I’m behind the curve. They have a number of good articles about sustainable bridge design.

Just be a little skeptical when reading the articles, it seems anything new is considered “sustainable”.

Have a great New Years!

Photoshoping a bridge concept 1

One of my goals for the next year is too learn more about photoshop and how I can use it to quickly improve my images. I tried improving my Calgary bridge concept. (yes the one that didn’t win. The one with the rotating pathway to the island. Yes, it would not work.)

Which one looks better? (Say the second one and no one gets hurt…)

Okay that last one was over the top. I’m not sure a moon was needed, so I tried again. Read more.

Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

I tried to make a deer in sketchup, and it needs work.

Then I tried to add some fur to the deer. Green looked appropriate.

Okay that didn’t work, so then I tried a brown deer. It looks more like a one-eyed sheepdog with antlers.

Oh well….Happy Holidays!

FHWA Sustainable Highways

The Federal Highway Administration is making a strong push into sustainable highway design. A new website has outlined a scoring system similar to LEED’s system for buildings.

I think this is a good thing. (sorry Martha)

I have found engineers respond to written direction and rules more so than most architects. I don’t know the reason for this but a written policy will help drive future bridge design. AND I like that both cost efficiency and context sensitive solutions are part of the scoring. (CSS actually carries more points.)
What do think about the new direction? (Is it new?)

RISA 2D Educational version quick demo

A quick demo using an old FREE version of RISA 2D. Pretty good little program and something I think I will use in my class since most students can take it home. Watch it full screen at 720p for best results and listen for all the mistakes…hey it is late..

Sustainable Bridge Design Part 1

So what does sustainability mean to engineers? I would guess they would equate it with headaches. More work, more fuzziness for very little gain. I always hear, “hey we already do that”.

Sustainability is the current buzzword for essentially doing the right thing. Engineering should always be concerned with designing the “right” structure for the location taking into account costs, aesthetics, usability by consumers and damage to the environment. Wikipedia, the all knowing reference describes sustainability this way,

Healthy ecosystems and environments provide vital goods and services to humans and other organisms. There are two major ways of reducing negative human impact and enhancing ecosystem services. The first is environmental management; this approach is based largely on information gained from earth science, environmental science, and conservation biology. The second approach is management of human consumption of resources, which is based largely on information gained from economics.

So how does this relate to bridge design? The Happy Pontist points out a very simple application of sustainability in his post on the privatisation of public space. Essentially a designer should be as concerned with the actual bridge design as the way in which it will be used. (Sorry HP for paraphrasing.)

I realize that engineers are just doing what the client wants, but I believe a good designer can influence the direction of the project and make it better. So how do we get to better?

Some starting suggestions.

1) Minimize environmental impacts

  1. Smallest possible location footprint
  2. Use environmentally safer materials and less of them. (This relates to using the least material possible while still having a safe design.)
  3. Protect the water. Storm runoff, rivers, construction waste, whatever, protect the water.

2) Make the structure useful for the public. (HP touched on making the public welcome around bridges.)

  1. Try drawing the bridge in 3d before finalizing the structure. You will be amazed at how much information you can gain from this simple task. (Learn sketchup or something similar.) I know engineers that use standard details that they really don’t understand.
  2. Quit reaching for the same design every time. Locations change and designs should change to accommodate the site. This may mean an engineer needs to keep upgrading their skills.
  3. Keep updating your skills! how else are you going to do point two? Seriously engineers learn something new.

Writing long posts are seriously draining, I don’t know how HP does it all the time…In the future I will try and nail down some real concrete (ha) examples. Have a great weekend!

Finite Element software for Concrete Class- Help!

I use STAAD for most of my class structural problems but I would like to find something cheaper, something a student can buy. Most of the time I have to give simple structures for homework and I would like to give some more “real” world examples.

Do you know any FE software, with a graphical interface, that I could use? $100 dollars or less?

Update: I found this version of RISA 2D -academic license. It seems to work but it is a little clunky. I think I could use it in class. (Thanks RISA!)

Update on Risa: I have been playing with it while watching my students take the final exam and it seems promising. I will post a video demo later…

Still looking for other packages.

Update 2: A reader suggested LinPro 2.7.2. (Thanks Tommy)

I just downloaded and tried this package. Pretty cool and easy to use but this program only uses metric units, yikes!

Reviews of this product?

update 3: From Pete
“I believe sap2000 has a free student version also.
MASTAN is free also, it has a very very simple interface that can be used for basic 1st order elastic analysis of trusses and frames. although it was created really to do 2nd order stability problems.”

Finals Week

I have not posted much lately, I have been trying to wrap up my class. Tomorrow is the final, then three days of grading and I’m done! Until next semester….

Rating System for Sustainable Bridge Design

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) is looking to provide a new rating system, similar to LEED, for infrastructure, called PRISM. PRISM is intended as a project rating system for infrastructure sustainability and management.

From a speech by ASCE President Kathy J. Caldwell, P.E., M.ASCE,

This will remain a priority for the coming year, as we exercise and refine the rating tool, refine our business plan for its success and develop the educational tools and certifications needed for full implementation. Much work has been done but much remains to be done to achieve our vision for the economic, environmental and societal performance — the “triple bottom line” — of the world’s infrastructure.

There is not much more in the way of hard information about PRISM but it is slated for rollout sometime next year. What do you think is a rating system like LEED a good idea for infrastructure?

I am not sure how it would work but I did stumble across a master’s thesis, by Lauren Hunt, entitled “Development of a Rating System for Sustainable Bridges”.

I will look at the criteria in future posts.

Competitions.org

I just found this site and I know very little about it, www.competitions.org.  It seems dedicated to providing information on upcoming and past design competitions for Architects, Artists and Planners.

No Engineers as usual, but I lot of great graphics from winning proposals. Very worthwhile just to get a sense of how to submit a project.

I am looking around for more creative work. Maybe I need to start a “visualization” company for engineers…like this. (click for larger size)