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Jordan Beach
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Module 3 - Points to Ponder

Why is it important to accurately model the land features of your project site with a toposurface?

  • There are a few reasons to accurately model land features. One reason is to get an idea of how much excavation and/or fill that the site may need. This can become costly if not carefully considered. However, it is easily avoidable just by adjusting the planned height of your structure to a nice average, so that no dirt need to be hauled in or out. Another reason is if a part of your building is going to be underground, then the wall structure must account for that to prevent any sort of lateral loading failure.

What considerations affect a project team's decision-making when deciding the floor-to-floor height to use in a multi-story building?

Deciding on floor to floor height is an interesting conversation depending upon who is in the room. A structural engineer would most likely hope that all floors are the same height throughout the building, so that critical component design has to be performed a minimal amount of times. Plus, buckling, stiffness and many other things depend heavily upon length of columns. A builder's perspective most likely aligns with this view for ease of quantities and organization. An owner or real estate investor may want the first floor to be closer to 15' to give that grandiose feel when walking into it, which provides a great marketing opportunity. A designer's perspective may align with the idea of whatever the environment or surrounding consist of.

Why do stairs follow specific proportions with a set relationship between the tread length and riser height?

  • It's difficult to properly explain, but I have been on stairs where the ratio is off and it is quite disorienting when going up them. Too steep and you feel like you're only going up and not forward. Too shallow and you feel as if you're only going forward and not up. Regardless if they're too steep or too shallow it makes it difficult to use them. Plus, a lot of time we don't think about stair ratios, so we may be caught off guard, then trip and fall.