Pragmatism trumps engineering

An industrial client company’s in-house engineers had spent weeks studying the expected loads and determining the structural design criteria for the new industrial building’s floor, a concrete slab on grade. They anticipated stacks of steel plate, and the resulting loads (approximately 1,000 psf) exceeded those normally experienced in the area. Push came to shove when the developer’s structural engineer determined the number and spacing of piles that would be necessary to support the anticipated loads……….and when the contractor determined the cost of the support system. “The cost of the foundation will exceed the cost of the building several times,” the contractor reported in a meeting with the client company’s managers and engineers.

The client company’s engineers were not fazed by the cost information, but the client company’s managers were more interested. A senior manager asked what loads were normally considered when designing a slab on grade for an industrial building, and the developer’s engineer replied that 250 psf was a conservative norm. “That will be fine,” replied the senior manager. And so it was.

Posted in Design, Project Management

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