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Engineering > Architecture > Building Technologies III: Building Structural Sys
 Building Technologies III: Building Structural Sys  posted by  duggu   on 11/30/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Ochsendorf, John, 4.463 Building Technologies III: Building Structural Systems II, Fall 2002. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Japanese Pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hanover.

Japanese Pavilion at Hanover Expo 2000, by Shigeru Ban and Buro Happold. (Image courtesy Nicolas Janberg of Structurae,

Course Highlights

This is the second of two semesters of graduate structures courses for architects.  This class goes beyond 4.462 to broaden the student's understanding of structures as integral to the overall design of the project.  This course includes lecture notes on specific materials and their properties.

Course Description

This course addresses advanced topics in structures, exterior envelopes and contemporary production technologies. It continues the exploration of structural elements and systems; expanding to include more complex determinant, indeterminate, long-span and high-rise systems. Some of the topics covered include reinforced concrete, steel and engineered wood design, and an introduction to tensile systems. The contemporary exterior envelope is discussed with an emphasis on the classification of systems, their performance attributes and advanced manufacturing technologies. This course is the second of two graduate structures courses, the first of which is 4.462. They offer an expanded version of the content presented in the undergraduate course, 4.440.

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.



This is the second course addressing architectural structures in the graduate architecture program. The subject matter will progress from the material presented in 4.462 by investigating the design and analysis of structural systems through load tracing, holistic structural behavior, the properties and design potentials of various materials, and the relationship between the superstructure and the exterior envelope.

A particular emphasis will be the relationship between two primary building systems; the superstructure and the exterior envelope. In addition, the course will examine the processes necessary for the assembly of these two systems through an examination of the performance requirements for each and the design potential inherent in their components. The focus will be on a solid understanding of the techniques employed in the specification and design of elements that serve each system, as well as a working knowledge of the factors that influence the configuration of those elements and the resulting morphologies. An appreciation of the technical complexity involved should lead to the development of a high level of competence to be employed in the search for opportunities to integrate the two systems. It is in this integrative mode that the relationship between the analytical methods of building technologies and the synthetic process of architectural design may lead to a deeper creative design process.

The semester is organized into 5 periods of three weeks each; two periods of structural lectures (S1 and S3) and two periods dedicated to the exterior envelope and advanced construction methods (C2 and C4). The final three weeks (Integration) will be devoted to the design and documentation of a final project that aims to put into practice opportunities of integration between these two systems. This final project will be derived of a design moment resulting from the Level II studio project.

Assignments will be a combination of problem sets, smaller projects (in class and otherwise), participation and readings as well as the formulation and development of the final project. There will be close coordination with the Level II studios.
"The resistant virtues of the structures that we make depend on their form; it is through their form that they are stable and not because of an awkward accumulation of materials. There is nothing more noble and elegant from an intellectual viewpoint than this: resistance through form." -Eladio Dieste, Uruguayan Engineer.
Scientific:          Structural forms versus geometrical forms.
                           Hooke, Robert. As Hangs the Chain, So Stands the Arch. 1675.

Social:               Sustainable design through engineering. 
                           Design goals: Economy, efficient use of materials, elegance in form.

Symbolic:          Creation of a new art with previously unimagined forms. 
                           Ability to evaluate and criticize structures.

Questions for Evaluating a Structure
  • What are the dominant loads?
  • Does the form reflect the dominant loading?
  • Is it a clear structural form? i.e., is the flow of forces obvious?
  • Is it an efficient use of materials?
  • Is it economical to construct?
  • Is it an elegant form? What could be improved?
Homework Assignments
There will be five homework assignments weighted as follows:

  Structures (3 HWs)...........................30%
  Envelope (1 HW)..............................15%
  Construction Processes (1 HW).......15%

Final Project
Each student will produce a final project resulting from an approved design moment (most likely from a Level II studio).

The final project will present:

  • a clear understanding of the relationship between superstructure and envelope
  • a knowledge of structural form and design
  • a clear demonstration of connection details
  • justification for the various materials employed
  • understanding of the construction processes involved
  • an appraisal of the envelope performance

Daniels, K. Low Tech, Light Tech, High Tech: Building in the Information Age. Birkhauser, 2000.

Schodek, D. L. Structures. 4th ed. Prentice-Hall, 2000.


"Allowable Stress Design." AISC Manual of Steel Construction.
Course Grading
Homework Assignments..............60%
Final Project................................40%
Attendance Policy

Attendance is mandatory and the final grade will be lowered automatically for any student with three absences or more.




  CLASS #       TOPICS  
  1       Introduction: Structure and Form  
  2       Structural Forms in Masonry: Structures HW #1 Assigned  
  3       Structural Forms in Timber  
  4       Lab: Statics  
  5       Structural Forms in Concrete  
  6       Structural Forms in Steel: Structures HW #2 Assigned (Structures HW #1 Due)  
  7       Graphic Statics I  
  8       Graphic Statics II  
  9       Envelopes I  
  10       Envelopes II: Envelope HW Assigned  
  11       Panel Discussion: Advances in Building Technology (Structures HW #2 Due)  
  12       Lab: Envelopes  
  13       Envelopes III  
  14       Envelopes IV  
  15       Structural systems: Structures HW #3 Assigned (Envelope HW Due)  
  16       Lab  
  17       Indeterminate Structures I  
  18       Indeterminate Structures II  
  19       Studio Visits: Final proposals  
  20       Studio Visits: Final proposals  
  21       Connections (Structures HW #3 Due)  
  22       Lab  
  23       Construction Processes I  
  24       Construction Processes II: Processes HW Assigned  
  25       Monday schedule: Construction Processes III  
  26       Construction Processes IV  
  27       Lab  
  28       Integration  
  29       Integration (Processes HW Due)  
  30       Integration  
  31       Integration  
  32       Integration  
  33       Integration  
  34       Integration  
  35       Final Project Presentations  
  36       Final Project Presentations   Tell A Friend