As technology continues to advance at record speed and increases in computing power allow engineers to complete more robust analyses more quickly, the number of engineers that are qualified to assess archaic systems using a competent understanding of actual behavior of old structures continues to shrink. In dense urban environments where large stocks of old buildings exist and new construction can be cost-prohibitive, an engineer’s ability to confidently diagnose and work with the properties of old structures can be the difference between a viable project and a project that never gets started.
The authors have seen firsthand numerous instances where overdesign of reinforcement of archaic systems or abandonment of archaic systems altogether have been proposed merely due to a lack of confidence in the engineer’s ability to accurately assess and understand the behavior of uncommon systems. Such behavior ultimately slams on the breaks for the project and sometimes kills the project altogether.
Confidently and competently working with archaic structural systems starts with an engineer’s ability to properly identify and investigate existing conditions. Without completing a thorough and accurate investigation of the existing conditions, a thorough understanding of the constituents, conditions, and quality of archaic systems is unlikely to be determined. This presentation is aimed at providing a practical framework for the identification, investigation, and analysis of archaic systems, with a focus on the investigative process and identification of tools that are available to investigate old structures. The authors aim to demystify the assessment of archaic structural systems by bringing a systematic approach to the investigation of such structures in hopes that more engineers will embrace the elegance of archaic systems, rather than fear what is unusual. The presentation is aimed at providing tools to attendees that can be immediately implemented into their practices and help firms build confidence working with archaic systems so that their elegance can be preserved and showcased for years to come.