Of course when we talk about structures, the first thing that comes to our minds is the buildings, as we live in them, and we see all sorts of them around. By buildings we mean all kind of buildings that enclose an area from outside and separates it with the outside… such as residences, offices, high rises, warehouses, factory buildings, sports halls, malls…
Only after the architectural design is complete, which determines how will the building look, how big or small, what functions it will perform where, how will the interior spaces be allocated, how many levels it will be, only after that, the engineering design comes into play. The structural engineer takes designs from the architect, and designs the structure so that it will support the intended loads that would result from structure and external effects. This stage also involves geotechnical engineers, for loads imposed on foundation and the supporting earth materials. In some instances, engineers might determine that the proposed structure is not feasible from engineering point of view, and some major changes be made to the final product, such as building a 20 level building instead of 30 levels, but this is not common. Most of the time, engineers are able to design a structure and foundation based on what is wanted by the owner, although to accommodate that final goal may mean increased costs for the structure and foundation system, which is then considered by the owner of the project.
So overall, although architectural aspects of buildings are more visible than their structural aspects, and how buildings function are determined by architects and not engineers, in our series we are discussing the structures from civil engineering point of view.
In the continuing posts of this series, we will work on an example of cast in place concrete building in more detail. Note that there are other types of buildings such as steel frame, precast concrete, tilt up construction, wood frame buildings.
In the next post, we will talk about design of buildings.