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Structuralism 2.0

Every good design has a good structure

  • The Structural Design of an LDS Church

    This project focused on the structural design of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This structure is located in the heart of Cambridge and less than half of a mile from the Charles River. This building will be used as a house of worship for the Mormon Church as well as a recreation center and a place for Bible study. This structure features two levels of parking: one parking level is on grade and the second is underground parking. The first floor of the church is located above the ground level parking and features the main chapel area and a gymnasium as well as study rooms. The second level of the church consists of study rooms as well as rooms for staff to work. This floor is open to the gymnasium and the chapel below. The roof level of this structure is lined with multiple parapets and supports a mechanical penthouse at two opposite ends of the structure. The structure is topped by a steeple which measures almost 45 feet in height.

    This structure has a footprint of almost 20,000 SF and sits on a lot with just under 30,000 SF. The structure provides covered parking for a maximum of 59 vehicles. The main chapel of the structure provides seating for up to 641 people and provides meeting areas for up for 329 people. The structure shall be classified as a Type 2B protected, non-combustible structure and has three full-height stairways and two full-height elevators.

    The first task in the efficient design was a code review and determination of the loads that were acting on this structure. Using ASCE 7-05, we were able to accurately determine the wind, live, and seismic loads acting on the structure. After determining the loads on the structure, we looked at various systems that could be used in multiple locations in the structure including the gymnasium area and parking structure. Systems studied included, but were not limited to, one- and two-way post-tensioned concrete, light- and normal-weight composite steel design, and joist versus W-section comparison. We studied the advantages and drawbacks of the various systems that we studied and made the determination of the various systems used in our design of this structure.

    Additional resources used include the International Building Code (2009), the Massachusetts Amendments to ASCE 7-05 Base Volume 8th Edition, ACI 318-08, and the AISC Steel Construction Manual 13th Edition.


  • FEM Analysis Project - Frank Gehry Cladding System

    Coursework at Lehigh is intense.  Fortunately, I've found a little time to upload my project on a Frank Gehry curtain wall system.  I referenced materials from MIT, Stanford and Harvard university to finish this assignment.  What I found was fairly illuminating.  Finite...


  • The FEM Analysis of a Gehry Cladding System

    For the next couple of days, I will be writing about Finite Element Methods (FEM).  Widely considered one of the more difficult courses at Lehigh, FEM is used by structural engineers to measure or trace stress concentrations throughout a structure subjected to loads or experiencing...


  • Big Beam Competition Entry

    This is the design of a prestressed concrete beam for the annual Big Beam Competition annually held in the Northeast.  The competition grades entrants based on performance against a given set of loads and overall quality of design.   To design the beam, beam geometry was optimized using...

    Big Beam Competition Entry



  • Loft Structure Model Video

    Modeling a loft structure. This is my independent research project as currently constructed at Lehigh University. In it, I am measuring the dynamic response of a loft structure subjected to sudden impact and free vibrations.



  • Tuned Mass Damper Design

    Just recently, I began a project with Dr. Shamim Pakzad of Lehigh University on the design of a tuned mass damping system that would simulate the seismic behavior or a loft structure.  The project originated from a project that a friend of mine collaborated on with Michael Maltzan...


  • Performance Based Design

    Currently, I've been in three courses which have assisted my year-long independent research project: a new method for designing reinforced concrete shear walls.  The project is to be designed for the Pankow Foundation, an organization out of Claremont, CA, founded on the vision to improve...


  • Plasticity in Materials

    I would like to think as an architect that the materials on a building are permanent.  That, as I design a building, what I design will last forever. It's not true, of course.  All materials, whether steel or concrete or composite, are destined to fail at some point in time...


  • Hello!

    Hi there!  My name is Robert Stroup and I'm currently a graduate student at Lehigh University.  The title of my blog - Structuralism 2.0 - is a reference to my own recent history.  To put it short, structural engineering is my second degree (architecture being my first).  But...


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About this Blog

I'm currently earning my masters in structural engineering at Lehigh University, but I hold a bachelors of architecture from the University of Oregon. What I would like to write about has to do with my aforementioned diverse background, i.e., what lessons I've learned in structural engineering that may help me as an architect in the near future.

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  • rstroup27

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