09 June 2014

Why Buildings Fall Down by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori

NOTE: This was supposed to be published 5 June but apparently only got saved as draft.

Why Buildings Fall Down was introduced to me by one of my friends, who is very interested in engineering and architecture.  Though I am not nearly as interested as he is, Why Buildings Fall Down was approachable enough (for the most part) that I found it worthwhile.

The book examines the causes of various structural failures, both historical and modern.  The authors did their best to explain architectural and mathematical problems in layman’s terms, and they succeeded more often than not.  Still, there were parts where the concepts they attempted to explain were more complicated than I was wiling to grapple with, and I will admit to skimming over some of the more technical jargon.

As a native Kansas Citian, the book was of particular interest as it explored both the Kemper Arena roof collapse and the Hyatt walkway collapse.  I’d often heard of the Hyatt disaster, but I’d never heard about Kemper’s roof collapse until reading the book.

Following the main text of the book, there was an appendix that explained and gave examples for many of the most important and basic elements of architecture.  I actually found those to be extremely helpful: not for the mathematics they offered but simply for the more easily-understood descriptions of the structures involved.  It would have been great if they had broken up that large section into smaller ones and preceded each chapter with a blurb about some architectural concept.

Still, Why Buildings Fall Down was worthwhile.  While it was far from a favorite, I don’t feel it was a waste of time to read it.


Books: Just got 3 from the library.  Finishing up volume 5 of Echoes of All Our Conversations.

Bottles: Nothing new.

Writing: 85% of the way there!  Holy crap!

Guitar: Looking at "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" again.  Surprisingly, I can still play it pretty well!