Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2002 - Architecture - 346 pages
20 Reviews
Once upon a time, seven wonders of the world stood tall and brilliant and, it must have seemed, would stand forever, impervious to time and gravity. Now only one remains--the pyramid at Khufu, in the Egyptian desert near Cairo. All of the others have fallen down. Modern technologies, computerized designs, and new materials have minimized structural failures nearly to the vanishing point. Even so, we can learn from ancient as well as recent history. Why Buildings Fall Down chronicles the how and why of the most important and interesting structural failures in history and especially in the twentieth century. Not even all of the pyramids are still with us. The Pyramid of Meidum has shed 2,500,000 tons of limestone and continues to disintegrate. Beginning there our authors, both world-renowned structural engineers, take us on a guided tour of enlightening structural failures--buildings of all kinds, from ancient domes like Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to the state of the art Hartford Civic Arena, from the man-caused destruction of the Parthenon to the earthquake damage of 1989 in Armenia and San Francisco, the Connecticut Thruway bridge collapse at Mianus, and one of the most fatal structural disasters in American history: the fall of the Hyatt Regency ballroom walkways in Kansas City. Buildings have fallen throughout history whether made of wood, steel, reinforced concrete, or stone. But these failures do respect the laws of physics. All are the result of static load or dynamic forces, earthquakes, temperature changes, uneven settlements of the soil, or other unforeseen forces. A few are even due to natural phenomena that engineers and scientists are still unable to explain or predict. Thestories that make up Why Buildings Fall Down are, finally, very human ones, tales of the interaction of people and nature, of architects, engineers, builders, materials, and natural forces, all coming together in sometimes dramatic and always instructive ways in the places where we l
  

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Review: Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail

User Review  - Laura Woodyard - Goodreads

The technical discussion on architectural development are implicit throughout this thoroughly researched read. The expert opinion, the analytical skills, the discussion of mechanical stress, and the ... Read full review

Review: Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail

User Review  - Ari - Goodreads

The topic is lovely: the details of structural failures. The author is an expert, able to draw on his rich career experiences and with amusing anecdotes, like when the opposing-party attorney asked ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

PREFACE
7
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
9
INTRODUCTION
11
The First Structural Failure
15
Miracle on Thirtyfourth Street
23
Will the Pantheon Stand Up Forever?
29
For Lack of Redundancy
53
Big Bangs
74
The House of Cards
171
Structural Dermatology
181
OldAge Death
205
The Worst Structural Disaster in the United States
219
The Politics of Destruction
229
The Structure of the Law
240
Terror from the Sky
255
Conclusion Can We Prevent Future Failures?
267

The Day the Earth Shook
88
Galloping Gertie
107
When Metals Tire
119
Thruways to Eternity
132
The Weaknesses of Mother Earth
147
Valley of Tears
159
A Loads
279
B Stress and Strain
287
C Structural Materials
290
D Structural Systems
293
INDEX
325
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Matthys Levy is chairman-emeritus of Weidlinger Associates Structural Engineers. His previous books include the best-selling Why Buildings Fall Down and Why the Earth Quakes.

Mario Salvadori, author of "Why Buildings Stand Up" and many other books, was an internationally known architect, mathematician, and teacher whose career spanned more than 60 years. A longtime resident of New York City, Dr. Salvadori died in June, 1997.

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