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They Don’t Make ’Em Like They Used To

If you can get to the New York Times, read Henry Petroski’ lament. Do you agree, or is it a cloudy memory of times gone by?

Workmanship has declined in parallel. There continue to be expert craftsmen — carpenters, roofers, painters — who work with precision and pride, but they are increasingly being pushed out by cheaper labor with inferior skills (which is, of course, why the labor is cheaper). I have had paint jobs that blistered within days and had to be redone — at my expense. And I have heard and read of many analogous experiences.

This is not the fault of homeowners, but of the industries whose practices favor the use of inferior products and labor that drive modern construction: the developers, lenders, builders and Realtors who, to make quick money, have created a stock of domestic and commercial infrastructure that is a waste of resources and will not last.

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Citicorp design error

An interesting story about the design error in the Citicorp skyscraper. Imagine working in a building that could blow over at any time and no one telling you… Thanks David for the link!

Citicorp design trouble – link

According to LeMessurier, in 1978 he got a phone call from an undergraduate architecture student making a bold claim about LeMessurier’s building. He told LeMessurier that Citicorp Center could blow over in the wind.

The student (who has since been lost to history) was studying Citicorp Center as part of his thesis and had found that the building was particularly vulnerable to quartering winds (winds that strike the building at its corners). Normally, buildings are strongest at their corners, and it’s the perpendicular winds (winds that strike the building at its face) that cause the greatest strain. But this was not a normal building.

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Bridge piers tilt

I-495 is no es bueno.

Four pairs of 50-foot-tall piers supporting the bridge are leaning to the east, officials said. The worst pier is 4 percent out of vertical alignment, placing the top of the pier about two feet out of line from the bottom. The shift has also tilted the concrete footer upon which the 5-foot-wide columns sit, as well as the concrete bridge deck, said Barry Benton, assistant director of DelDOT’s bridge section.

And coffee break stuff.