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Objectivism in Design

Philosopher indicated that one can reach objective knowledge with observation followed by the process of concept formation and inductive logic. Applying this mentality to the structural engineering practice, one can reach objective design with observation of material behavior followed by the process of theoretical model formation and abstract use of finite elements to guide creation of real life steel and reinforced concrete structures.

This rational approach is the fundamental of engineering and the governing notion in determination of an operational methodology for a design office. If understood well and implemented properly, objectivism is the ultimate procedure that produces universal design solutions. Given a brief description of the Objectivism in Design, how a consulting firm shall grab and hold on to it? The design process surely is the heart of the matter and in order to reach that level of structural perception, design offices should do the following:

1. Clearly understand the desire of client, contractor, architect and other consultants. This will eventually lead to an effective general structural system which all parties are in consensus. Involve them in important decisions and present a realistic timeline for your duties in the project.

2. Scope of work and financial expectations of all participants must be well defined at the beginning, be sure of that. Those are among the key features of professionalism which should be made clear at the period of project inception.

3. Decide the design principles according to relevant codes and documents such as technical specifications. If necessary, research and pre-design studies should be carried out.

4. Discuss with the contractor about the characteristics of structural system since construction site is a highly dynamic place with its own attributes depending on geographical conditions and organization of the work force.

5. Step by step design phases must follow – concept, preliminary, developed, detailed, as-built. Revisions, alterations and even major setbacks for projects are possible so interim payments at each phase is preferable.

6. Involve experienced engineers in determination of the structural layout, fitting structural form to function when considering grid spacing, foundation system, positioning of shear walls, bracing, etc.

7. Consider influences which are usual and unusual when shaping the load bearing system. Choose suitable framing scheme and an appropriate slab system for the structure in mind for both serviceability and strength design combinations. Special detailing must be considered for uncommon loading types and conditions such as point loads, study robustness against attacks bombings etc. Lateral dynamic loads such as wind, earthquake and consequences such as pounding or fatigue must be carefully examined and a sound lateral load carrying pattern must be formed. Temperature effects, staged construction and if possible material nonlinearity supposed to be modeled and overall analytical model should reflect the reality as close as possible. In general sections are sized according to ultimate strength, attention must be paid to never fall short in compliance of serviceability limit states such as over liveliness and vibration and psychological factors such as large displacements in visible areas. Fire performance, possible future extensions, cost and applicability are some critical issues to be discussed with architectural and on site teams.

8. Consider alternatives during the preliminary phases, and obtain comparative costing advice. That will surely shed a light on the table. Creating and updating a design report during the design phases is suggested even if it’s not mandatory. This should include a brief of structural system representation both in words and in sketches, loading cases and combinations, relevant design codes and standards, utilized computer software, material and geotechnical properties and also seismicity analysis if present.

9. Proper design assumptions and realistic finite element modeling should produce arithmetically accurate calculations and consistent computational outputs with anticipated results. Actual load paths and structural behavior should be monitored by deformed shape visualization and by detailed reviews of major or random members. Connection design, cross section selection or reinforcement design should comprise sufficient redundancy and robustness without going into overdesign. (Redistribution or plasticity can be considered if engineer is aware of the underlying theory.) Being mindful on applicability of details and construction tolerances will surely prevent big issues that would show up at the stage of erection. Reflection of design intent into drawings should also be reviewed as well as completeness and quality of the design documentation package.

10. Some sort of quality control or internal assessment process is vital to verify reliable and flawless output. Assessment can be carried out at any stage of the project. Reviewing at all stages may demand communication over head and a slower process but provides avoidance or limitation on errors and give more certainty on the quality of the final design. For bigger projects, frequent, detailed and thorough review of drawings is a tedious yet essential task. At this point drawing automation of design offices would play a significant role on quality and standardization.Design office should demonstrate compliance of the design assumptions and calculation results. Usually this is done through calculation reports and drawings. Further elaboration can be made as meetings and verbal communication. This is the point where objective design shows its virtue. If above mentioned practices and routines are well followed by the designer in charge, the output will surely satisfy universal norms and codes furthermore the optimal solutions with consent of all parties shall be achieved.

To sum up Objectivism in Design demands:
• good communication between divisions
• following a rational step by step work flow
• sound assumptions on loads and acts of nature
• accurate modeling of the geometry and assumptions
• evaluating alternative designs for different structural layouts
• reflecting the intended design to the paper as clear as possible
• controlling the quality of entire process from analysis to design & drafting
• demonstrating compliance to the other people exercising the same profession

Objectivism in Design is a concept brought to life by well educated and hardworking individuals forming the team “STAND” which will prevail as solid as the structures that were also brought to life by them.

 İnş. Yük. Müh.
Serhan BAKIR

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