Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail

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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 ...
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Overview

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. The stories 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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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
The reader is sure to find the disaster that suits his or her taste.
Library Journal
Structural engineers Levy and Salvadori have written a well-paced, highly informative, nontechnical work describing failures in a variety of structures such as buildings, bridges, and dams. Salvadori wrote Why Buildings Stand Up (Norton, 1990), so this is a natural complement. The subject, somewhat grisly in nature, is presented here with respect for the tragedies involved, and yet with a lighthearted pursuit of the truth as to the cause of the failure. Analysis of the failure is discussed and recommendations for improvement are offered, but without the usual condescension hindsight allows. Profuse illustrations by Kevin Woest, well labeled and explained, and several appendixes aid access. An index (not seen) is provided, but no glossary. This fascinating book is easily accessible to laypersons. Highly recommended.-- Alex Hartmann, Bloomsburg Univ. Lib., Pa.
Booknews
Levy, an architectural engineer, and Salvadori, professor emeritus of civil engineering and architecture at Columbia U., provide a fascinating account of the most important and interesting structural failures in history, and especially in the 20th century. Thoroughly illustrated by Kevin Woest. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Beginning with Egypt's disintegrating Pyramid of Meidum, authors Levy and Salvadori, both world-renowned structural engineers, take readers on a guided tour of 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, and one of the most fatal structural disasters in American history: the fall of the Hyatt Regency ballroom walkways in Kansas City. Black-and-white illustrations point out key structural points of building that have failed as well as illustrations of the basic laws of physics, providing a professional look at these disasters, with a focus on building failures that occurred in the 20th century. Whether make of wood, steel, reinforced concrete, or stone, the buildings all respect the laws of physics, the failures a result of static load or dynamic forces due to human error or natural occurrences, or a combination of both. Provides an instructive, eye-opening look at a subject that affects us all.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393033564
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 9.45 (w) x 6.54 (h) x 0.43 (d)

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