Ticking Time Bomb

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Structural design is the process of selecting members of required dimensions such that they provide adequate stability under service loads. There are two conditions that a structural designer must keep in mind.

One is "stability" and the other is "serviceability". Stability of a structure means that it can resist the loads acting on it satisfactorily and that the structure will not collapse immediately (that is, it provides enough time to escape to safety).

Serviceability refers to certain conditions that are required so that the structure remains serviceable. For example, consider a bridge that can resist service loads without collapse. This is a "stable" structure. Now assume that this bridge shows abnormal deflections.

The deflections could be such that the bridge feels bouncy and could lead to steering problems for vehicles crossing it at high speeds. As such this may not cause the structure to collapse. So we can say that the structure is stable, but according to serviceability criterion it is not serviceable because people could feel afraid of using the bridge.

In the design and construction of the foundation and framing for buildings and bridges, the main materials used are concrete, steel, timber, and masonry. Steel can further be subdivided into two subsections: hot-rolled steel and and cold-formed steel. Cold-formed steel applies to material of approximately 1/8" or less in thickness that is either folded or roll-formed from flat sheets into structural shapes while at room temperature.

Steel like concrete is a very environmentally demanding substance and careful planning and design can reduce its impact.  With precise construction scheduling the foot print of the steel erection can be kept to a minimum. Large mechanical equipment needs to be used during the erection and the toll on the CO2 increases drastically with delays in coordination of structural members. Coordination of other disciplines eg, mechanical and process piping can also be a great saving.

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