Villa Savoye ( Villa Sav-wa)

  1. Structure Information

Villa Savoye was a weekend home for the Savoye family during the 1930s. Mr. Savoye was a wealthy insurer who hired architect, Le Corbusier, to design their perfect weekend home in a Poissy France. The house can be seen below in figure 1.  This house was carefully designed as every single part of this house was built with a purpose and this is because Corbusier followed the idea that form follows function.

Figure 1: Villa Savoye

  1. Historical Significance

What makes this house such a great engineering design is its simplicity. The entire house is supported by reinforced concrete beams and columns, which means all the walls are non-load bearing. Reinforced concrete was still fairly new material at this time and was not used by most architects. Corbusier chose this material as it was the best for a framed system which was needed to create a thin and light appearance.  Since none of the walls were non load bearing Corbusier could use  large windows to allow natural light to flood the inside. Also, this design allowed a lot of flexibility for the floor plans. This house was so ahead of its time that it was the  start of a worldwide movement called Modernism.


  1. Cultural Significance

As stated earlier, this house was a weekend house for the Savoye family. It sat on large plot of land where the Savoye family had a huge garden filled with fruit trees and vegetable plants. Since the Savoye family was wealthy and had a large plot of land they had servants and a grounds keeper. The servants lived on the first floor, which was a new concept at this point in time as servants usually lived on the top floor/ attic while the home owners lives on the lower levels. The grounds Keeper had his own home which can be seen in figure 2 below. As you can see, this house is very similar to the villa.

Figure 2

Even though this home lead the way to modern architecture and has been highly praised by architects from around the world, the Savoyes absolutely hated it. Since the home had a many windows and natural light it was incredibly hard to control the extreme temperatures. IN the summer it would get unbearably hot and in the winter the house was so cold it was impossible to heat up. Also, the roof would always leak no matter how much it rained. Its funny, just like the blog post I did on the albert bridge the structures completely failed to serve it purpose but was loved by the general public.

  1. Structural Art

I am going to say that this is structural art. This house has a very simple design and has very clear load path from slabs to columns, that is it. None of the walls are load bearing. Also, it was extremely innovative and was and  is still an inspiration to architects all around the world. Another interesting aspect of this house and how it relates to structural art is that Corbusier designed following the principle “form follows function”. An example of this is the back of the house. The radius of the curtain wall was designed specifically for the turning radius of the home owners car. This was done to make parking into the garage effortless for the owners. There are many more examples of this but are not related to the structural engineering. So leave a comment and ask me about it (LOL). The one thing that would not count it as structural art is that Le Corbusier had almost unlimited amount of money to spend on this house. Although most of the money did go to aesthetics like furniture and appliances.

  1. Structural Analysis

This structure is a reinforced concrete frame that supports three slabs with columns and beams. None of the walls take loads, only the beams and columns. The weight of the walls are lines loads which are transferred into the slab and then into the nearest column. The load path can be seen in figure 3 below


For the calculation I wanted to checked the buckling capacity of the column. The column that I checked is circled in figure 4. For the slab that is resting on that column and beam I assumed a density of 150 lb/ft3 and I also assumed a dead load of 15 lb/ ft.  All the dead loads can be converted to an area load onto the slab and then a line load onto the beam. Then the reaction forces of the beam can be determined which will give the load applied to the column. Then I can calculate the critical buckling load and compare it to the load applied to the column. Calculations are shown below.

Figure 4



  1. Personal Response

By coincidence there a free tour started 30 minutes after I arrived at Villa Savoy. Those first 30 minutes I was walking in and around the house and observing the load path and what not but that tour totally changed how I viewed the house. The tour made me understand how passionate Corbusier was about this house and that he designed everything for a reason. I have a new perspective now on buildings and how/ why they were built. Below are more pictures of the house to give you an idea of what I saw on the tour.

Albert Bridge

  1. Structure Information

The Albert Bridge, shown in figure 1,  is located in central London where connects Chelsea and Battersea over the Thames River. It was completed in 1873 but had to undergo repair in 1884 and 1973. The Albert bridge was desperately needed at the time because the existing Battersea Bridge was decaying and the Victoria Bridge that was just up the river was getting too congested. To ease up traffic, Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince albert suggested to build a toll bridge. Rowland Mason Ordish was hired as the architectural engineer for this project as he had an extensive background with other large projects like Crystal Palace and St. Pancras railway station.

Figure 1

  1. Historical Significance

This bridge was so innovative at the time that Ordish patented his design. This bridge was a combination of a suspension bridge and a cable stayed bridge. This actually was not the first time that this design was used. Before Ordish built the Albert Bridge, he built and designed the same bridge in Prague and in his eye, it was a success. So he kept his design and used it for the Albert bridge. This bridge turned out to be and engineering failure. Like what we learned in class today and at the mellinnium bridge the frequency from people crossing the bridge caused it sway so much that load restrictions had to o be set.  There is still a sign before at each end of the bridge that tells troops to break step while crossing the bridge. Walking at different paces helped reduce the movement of the bridge. This bridge did go under reconstruction just a short 9 years later but I will go into more detail about that in the next section.

  1. Cultural Significance

Even though this bridge was needed at the time it caused a lot of trouble for the people in the area.  The owners of the existing bridge, Battersea bridge, did not want the Albert bridge to be built because they thought they were going to start losing money as less people would need to use it. But in 1864 Parliament passed an Act that made the Albert Bridge Company compensate the owners of the Battersea Bridge annually during construction and agreeing to buy the previous bridge once the new one was complete. In order to get enough money to do this Prince Albert came up with the idea to make the new Bridge a toll bridge. Even though this was a viable solution it just never worked, mainly because the engineering failed. Since the bridge was so unstable load restrictions were enforced which limited the amount of people to cross it. With a limited number of users, the bridge was not profitable since most of the money was going towards payment for the older bridge.  Just 6 years after the bridge was completed the Metropolitan Board of Works Purchased the bridge and immediately got rid of the tolls.[1]

Nine years later the Chief Engineer for the Board of Metropolitan Board of Works inspected the bridge and found that the steel cables were already showing signs of wear. He decided to replace the wood deck and replace the steel cables with steel links… little did he know that this design wasn’t any better. This bridge was still causing so much structural issues that there was a plan to demolish the bridge. Fortunately for the bridge, World War I and II caused the demolition of the bridge to be delayed. Once the wars ended there was a campaign to keep the bridge because all of the local people really thought it was one of the beauties of the London river. In 1971-1973 the bridge went the major structural rework. Two addition piers connected by a steel beam that ran through the middle of the deck was added along with all new decking. [2]

Today the bridge is still in use but there is still load restrictions on the bridge. It is still loved by many people today because of its vibrant colors. To increase the visibility of the bridge it was painted pink, blue and green. This bridge was loved so much that it was used as back drops in movies like Absolute Beginners, Maybe Baby, and A Clockwork Orange (Never heard of these movies but still kinda cool that it was used as a backdrop!).

  1. Structural Art

Right off the bat I can say that this Bridge is not structural art. First, it failed from an engineering standpoint and was incredibly unstable to use it efficiently. Second it was extremely expensive. It was originally estimated that it would cost 70,000 GBP and would only take 1 Year to build  but it took 3 years to complete and the total cost was over 200,000 GBP. Thirdly, it had way too much ornamental detail.

  1. Structural Analysis

As stated earlier this bridge was a combination of a suspension bridge and a cable stayed bridge. It is a suspension bridge where the deck is connected by vertical hangers to the steel link chains which run across the two towers. The cable stayed portion of this bridge is a fan design. This can be seen where the stays are connected to the deck and inclined to the top of the towers. This can be seen in the figure 2 below; the suspension hangers are highlighted in red and the diagonal cable stays of the bridge are highlighted in yellow. In figure 3 you can see the suspension of steel chains which were not part of the original design. You can see the cable stays and the vertical hangers in figure 3. For the suspension portion of this bridge the load is transferred from the deck to the suspender cable which are then transferred to the suspension cables and into the towers. For the Stay bridge portion the diagonal cables stransfer the loads from the deck to the towers.

Figure 3


Figure 3


For the structural analysis portion of this I made a few assumptions to simplify the calculations since it was a combination of 2 bridge types. The first assumption I made was that the suspension portion of the bridge takes a majority of the load so I will neglect the cable stay portion. The next assumption I made was that there is a roller connection in the top of the bridge  towers so that means that the horizontal components in each side of the tower will be the same. For the loads I assumed a live load of 3 tons since the there is a weight limit of 5 tons and I assumed the dead weight of the bridge to be 56 kips/ft. Below are my calculations for the max forces in the cables for the main span and the side spans.





  1. Personal Response

Before I went to this bridge I did a little research and found out it was a combination if a suspension bridge and cable stayed bridge. From looking at the pictures I had a real difficult time seeing exactly how it was a combination of the two because of lighting in the pictures. Even when I saw the bridge in person from a distance I still had a difficult time since the cable are going in every direction. But when I walked across the bridge I could see how the suspender cables attached the deck to the suspension cable and then to the tower. The same goes with how the stay system worked. Being there in person definitely helped me understand the load paths.





Millennium Arch

Millennium Gate museum

Structure Information

The millennium gate bridge is located on 17th street in Atlantic station which is a popular mixed-use development in midtown Atlanta.  Construction began in 2005 and was opened to the public on July 4th 2008.Image result for millennium arch atlanta

Figure 1: Millennium Arch

This structure was funded by the National Monuments Foundation because they wanted to honor the rich history of Atlanta. Back in the mid-1800s Atlanta was known as the gate city because the rail system that ran through the city was the first to connect the east coast to the western United States. The National Monuments Foundation thought it was fitting to build an actual gate in the heart of Atlanta to honor fast growing city. The design of the arch came to be through an international competition which was judged by some of the most respected architects of the time.  [1]

Historical Significance

This structure was not an innovative structural engineering design. The arch was perfected by the ancient Greeks back in 470 BC. There has been plenty of Arch monuments that have been built around the United States and around the world like the Titus Arch in Rome and the Washington Square Arch, in New York’s Washington Square. [1]

Cultural Significance

Atlantic Station today is a highly populated area in Atlanta which is known for is retail, high density apartments and tall office buildings. It was not always like this. Back in the early 1900s the Atlanta Hoop factory was founded here where they made cotton bale ties and barrel hoops. With the advancement of technology steel was in high demand and the factory switched its focus to steel and became known as the Atlantic Steel Mill. It finally closed in the 90s and was abandoned.  The steel mill created a lot of hazardous waste and because it was abandoned no one ever cleaned up the waste properly. This became a huge road block for developers whose hopes were to transform this area into a huge retail area to try to improve and grow Atlanta. The EPA determined that this area was too harmful to build here where families would live. Experts came up with a plan to remove and also burry most of the waste along with other methods.

This development became a huge success by accelerating the growth of Atlanta which is now one of the fastest growing cities of it size. People from Atlanta have enjoyed this monument as it sits in a park where people can sit and reflect in such a beautiful place

Structural Art

Billington would definitely not consider the Millennium Arch as structural art. One could say that the load path is clear and is a very elegant looking structure but that is about it. There was no new technology developed in the design of this monument, the arch outdates the ancient Greeks. Also, the economy and politics didn’t really add any constraints to this project to effect its final design.

Structural Analysis

I had a difficult time finding the exact dimensions of this arch so I had to make a few assumptions. I do know that the total height of the arch is 100 ft tall. Based on this I assumed the length of the arch is 35 ft long and 20 feet 12 feet high. The structure is made of lime stone which ways 150lb/ft3 so I made an assumption that the distributed load along the top of the arch is 184 kip/ft.  Please see Figure below.


Figure 2: Loads Applied

To calculate the reaction of this arc, I first summed the forces in the y direction of the entire structure. I did this because there is a symmetric load across the arch so the two reactions will equal each other. I got both of the y reactions to equal 3220 kips. Then to find the x reactions I cut the arch in half where the arch is at its tallest height which is 12 ft. At that maximum point there is no internal force in the y direction.  I took the Moment about C and got the x value to equal 2348 kips. IF you look at the entire arch again and sum forces in the x, you will notice that the x values on both side of the arch will equal the same value.

The reason this structure works well is that the top of this arch corbeled. This allows the weight from the top of the structure to get evenly distributed across the arch without collapsing. The forces flow from the arch to the columns it sits on and into the the ground.

Personal Response. 

This arch has always stood out to me but I never had the chance to actually go and visit before. Getting to see it up cloase and person I got see how much detail went into this monument. I really does show how rich Atlanta’s history is and and just how important this area really sparked the immense growth in the A.T.L