Smaller Projects

Small projects are equally difficult and often unproportionally big time and effort-consumers in comparison with large ones.

The cost efficient scope of consulting and designing services of our company were large developments.
We seldom saw small projects. Our firm accepted only these of them, which presented unusual technical challenges, after they were declined by all other engineering companies. This was a last resort of desperation and usually involved a great deal of emotional attachment on owners' side. 


The one I decided to present here is the glass annex (winter garden) designed on octagonal plan, what makes it unstable for side wind. We received this commission after all major and minor architectural aluminum subcontractors' engineering departments rejected the architectural design.
The architectural design was a typical assembly of impossible elements: glass size exceeding production limits, mullion size, length and modulation exceeding production limits and structural capabilities of typical steel and aluminum alloys.  The architectural design also ruled out any additional support and any diagonal bracing for sake of transparency.
The curtain wall eave has been designed too narrow to stiffen the structure diagonally, nor to accommodate the perimeter stiffening band. Additionally, the eave has been designed straight on the line of average human view at height + 2m (6'-7"). This was one of  reasons, why we were not allowed to widen the eave, in effort to make some room for stiffening band. The vertical mullions made different angles in three planes, creating fancy transitions, what made all efforts to solve this problem within any off-the-shelf system solution beyond discussion.
Fortunately we have eventually designed custom steel four-way adjustable joints of mullions, small enough to hide them in a tiny space of eave.
They are presented on the drawings below.


Another construction problem example: The architectural design demanded rafter mullion profiles beyond actual maximum lenght limit of production - standard produced lenght is 14,000 mm (approx 46ft) and even usage of the strongest profile with additional strenthtening steel insert, piled inside the aluminium mullion profile - it still was too weak, taking weight of snow into account. The architect desired to achieve effect of a light, free space and did not allow to support the roof on poles or to use any supporting superstructure. We have proposed the tensioned rods attached underside the rafter mullions, which solution has eventually satisfied the architect.

Last modification 02.27.2005