Posted by: nedpelger | July 13, 2009

Study What Fails

I came upon a site that shows some engineering failures. All of us in the construction industry should continue to pay attention both to what works and what doesn’t. We need to study failures to try to avoid the mistakes, but also to keep in mind the magnitude the problems can take.

The photo below shows a 5 story building that toppled.


Look at the mat foundation under that building. The likelihood of over-turning failure seems high with a nothing but a shallow mat foundation on that small footprint.

In Central PA, where I mostly build, we have sinkholes in the limestone bedrock. I’ve helped fix hundreds of these annoying openings over the years. I don’t get too excited when the Construction Supervisor calls to tell me another sink hole opened somewhere on site. The photo below takes sinkhole to another order of magnitude, though.


Apparently this massive sinkhole opened in Florida. Look at the size of the cars to the left (about 10 o’clock). That certainly ruined somebodies day.

We all know we should pay attention to what works, to study success and try to re-create it. Remember to study failure as well. Things can go wrong in many ways. Learn to pay attention to the failures of others, since you won’t live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself.

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