Monthly Archive: September 2011

Marvin Windows, Atlanta, GA

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This project was an older retail store that was built in the 1950’s, and had been modified a number of times.  We had to analyze the floor system to determine if it was capable of handling the increased loads from the floor displays, which meant we had to do extensive measuring in order to model the building (no drawings were available).  We also did design work on the fascia of the building, some of the modifications over the years were rather ill advised.

 

 

Using Technology Effectively

Multi Story Rendering of Hotel

Here’s a project I’m working on right now, a hotel in Florida.  It’s a 4 story hotel, and we are building the upper stories out of modules made from Cold Formed Steel.  I drew the structural concept in Softplan and showed it to the client today through GoToMeeting.  This can save a lot of trouble when doing a design, because I am able to make sure I am on the right trace with what I am trying to accomplish, and instead of handing the client 2d drawings to decipher, we were able to look at this 3d model and rotate it as needed to see how I plan on doing the structure.  It worked very well.   Additionally, this kind of modeling helps us avoid errors and figure how we’ll run wiring, piping, and HVAC:

 

Multi Story Rendering of Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This concept was approved by my client, and the next step is to put these together in the hotel.  Right now this is looking absurdly simple, since “all” I have to do is design the walls and framing on the first floor and the stair wells.  Softplan automates a lot of the drafting I have to do, such as the foundations, walls, and so on.  I’m hoping this will speed up the process, I’ll update this post as the design continues.  I have only recently started designing in 3d with Softplan, and I’ve seen my drafting time drop to less than half the time I spent before.

One of the issues as a business owner, or any kind of manager is how you delegate the work.  If you try to do everything yourself, you limit the amount of work that can be done.  Also, there are people that can work for you that can do the jobs better than you can.  The flip side of this is if you hire the wrong person that person can do tremendous damage.  You may spend more time trying to supervise people than you would if you just did the work yourself.  For a business (government agency for that matter) employees cost money, and can drag funds away from other areas where they are needed.

My personal theory is that technology can be used as somewhat of a replacement for delegating to a person.  Coming out of several years of recession and the collapse of my former primary market (housing), cash is not available for hiring someone.  However, for me to spend hours on AutoCAD drawing is not productive either – I have to use a much lower billing rater, and it takes me away from doing more productive things.  The compromise is technology, in this case I am automating by using Softplan to do the heavy lifting for me.  It’s not the perfect solution, but it is a good solution and a way to move forward.

Retaining Wall Failure, Gainesville, GA

Beginning Construction of the Retaining Wall

Client: Residential Customer

This project involved replacing a poorly constructed residential retaining wall.  The failed wall was 24 feet high, and was constructed in 4 foot increments of treated yellow pine timbers to get around permitting requirements (generally walls under 4 feet high don’t have to be permitted in most jurisdictions).  The builder set the walls on a massive pile of uncompacted fill, and buried trash from the subdivision.  The wall started to fail about 10 years after construction, which meant the contractor was nowhere to be found, and the Statute of Limitations had run out.  The wall was showing a wide open tension crack at the top level, which can mean it is beginning to get global failure.  We recommended a geotechnical firm come out and do an investigation.  They couldn’t get a boring rig onto the site, so they did hand auger borings to about 12′ and found poor soil.

We designed three walls made of reinforced concrete to step up to the back yard.  Excavation began, and the contractor encountered a deep trash pit about 15 feet below the ground.  This raised the specter of serious global failure, so we recommended a different geotechnical engineer examine the site, Mr. Robert Turton of Oakhurst Geotechnical.  Mr. Turton has many years of experience with soil engineering, and he performed a slop stability analysis to determine what soil improvements had to be done.  He also monitored removal of poor soil and placement and compaction of fill.  We had to change our wall design to reflect the new profile, and we were on site several times a week.

A year after the new walls were constructed, the 500 year storm hit the area, flooding many areas, and causing many structural collapses.  Our walls remained stable, which we are certain is more than can be said of the original walls.

The original walls as failure was starting.

The Original Wall - you can see cracking in the mulch at the top about two feet from the grass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A view of the trash pit that we found.

A View of the Trash Pit We Found

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compacting Fill After The Trash Was Removed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beginning Construction of the Retaining Wall

Cartersville Facade

Facade Showing Mural of Historic Cartersville, GA on Aluminum Panels Mounted on an Old Warehouse.

Client: SECO Architectural Products

Location: One Johnson Street, Cartersville, GA

This project was to design the support of a facade to be placed over an old warehouse in Cartersville, GA with a mural showing scenes of Historic Cartervsville, GA.  This project involved the structural design of the aluminum structure behind the facade that mounts it on an old brick textile mill warehouse.  We designed it using aluminum tubes mounted to the building and had to come up with a system of securely bolting it to the existing building and designing a parapet to take the top portion of the facade.  The facade had to be designed to resist wind loads that would try to pull it loose from the building, and keep the parapet it formed at the top from deflecting.

Facade Showing Mural of Historic Cartersville, GA on Aluminum Panels Mounted on an Old Warehouse.

Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons

The Wayne Clough Undergraduate Commons Building at a Distance - Note the Penthouse at the Top

Architectural panels used as screening for the mechanical penthouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Client: Georgia Tech/SECO Architectural Products

On this project, we designed the structure to support the architectural panels on the penthouse.  This design included the steel supports, the welds, and the anchor bolts.

We had to design anchor bolts for the posts in part of the penthouse - this was difficult because the concrete was not thick enough to allow deep embedment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the photo on the above, we are looking at the posts used to support the screens around mechanical units on the penthouse.  The top had to stay open to allow crane access, and the slab was of limited thickness – worse, it was a post tensioned slab, so we had to be careful with penetrations.  We designed post installed anchor bolts and the kickers that you see to allow this to work with the imposed windloads (which were very high due to the height of the building.

This is a typical post support in the enclosed penthouse - it is pinned to allow rotation of the post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Wayne Clough Undergraduate Commons Building at a Distance - Note the Penthouse at the Top

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