Steel Design

Steel Design

The structural design of buildings, whether of structural steel or reinforced concrete, requires the determination of the overall proportions and dimensions of the supporting framework and the selection of the cross sections of individual members. In most cases the functional design, including the establishment of the number of stories and the floor plan, will have been done by an architect, and the structural engineer must work within the constraints imposed by this design. Ideally, the engineer and architect will collaborate throughout the design process to complete the project in an efficient manner. In effect, however, the design can be summed up as follows: The architect decides how the building should look; the engineer must make sure that it
doesn’t fall down. Although this distinction is an oversimplification, it affirms the first priority of the structural engineer: safety.

Other important considerations include serviceability (how well the structure performs in terms of appearance and deflection) and economy. An economical structure requires an efficient use of materials and construction labor. Although this objective can usually be accomplished by a design that requires a minimum amount of material, savings can often be realized by using more material if it results in a simpler, more easily constructed project. In fact, materials account for a relatively small portion of the cost of a typical steel structure as compared with labor and other costs (Ruby and Matuska, 2009).

A good design requires the evaluation of several framing plans—that is, different arrangements of members and their connections. In other words, several alternative designs should be prepared and their costs compared.

For each framing plan investigated, the individual components must be designed. To do so requires the structural analysis of the building frames and the computation of forces and bending moments in the individual members. Armed with this information, the structural designer can then select the appropriate cross section. Before any analysis, however, a decision must be made on the primary building material to be used; it will usually be reinforced concrete, structural steel, or both. Ideally, alternative designs should be prepared with each.

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