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 elements really do help in the analyzing freeform structural systems. In general, there are two things every structural engineer wants to look at: strength and serviceability. But because this cladding structure is exposed primarily to the exterior, only strength is of importance here.
Five things were analyzed for each beam/tube element: deformation, normal force, shear force, moment, and torsion. In addition to this, stress concentrations were mapped over the aluminum panels, which were modeled with thin shell elements.
More is described about the analytical process below in the presentation jpegs. This project would not have been finalized without the help of Dr. John L. Wilson, who deserves my entire gratitude for his sheer generosity and candid advice.
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.