quartering winds buildings

Wind pushing against a tall building has a great deal of leverage against its base, but gravity does much of the work in holding a building together via compression. While LeMessurier had done the math and found that his design held up against perpendicular winds, which hit buildings on their faces, he failed to account for quartering winds. LeMessurier's original design for the chevron load braces used welded joints. In the tests the wind direction was varied every ten degrees, and the structural response of the building to ‘quartering’ winds could have been determined from them. This makes a building secure against wind so long as the joints are strong enough to resist whatever wind force is not countered by gravity. After analyzing the speed of winds the building could withstand against weather data, he found something frightening -- a storm strong enough to knock over the Citicorp building hit Manhattan once every 55 … According to Robert McNamara, LeMessurier’s partner at the time, LeMessurier had in fact considered the quartering winds during the design phase, [15] but determined that the quartering winds did not produce as much stress on the building as the perpendicular winds. The Citicorp Tower should have been checked for quartering winds because building codes require consideration of the most severe loading case. The result was that the impact of the quartering winds was not closely analyzed since they were not thought to be the controlling design … The decision to change welded joints to bolted joints was an important change that should have been considered more carefully. This recalculation revealed that with a quartering wind, there was a 40% increase in wind loads, resulting in a 160% increase in the load at the chevron brace connection joints. LeMessurier had a duty to publicize the problem with the building. However, apparently the New York Building Code of the time was used instead; that Code assumed that wind only blew at right angles to a wall of a building. Normally, buildings are strongest at their corners, and it’s the perpendicular winds (winds that strike the building at its faces) that cause the greatest strain.

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