how to quickly guess the column size



I am looking for a quick way to guess the column size for a 3 story religious building. Need to put into a sketch drawing and do a quick 3d rendering.

Based on loads and several stress results, I guess I could use the American Institute of Steel chart to get the rough size for the column.

The structure frame would be steel rigid frame. The column grid generally is 16'x30', part of the grids is 60'x30' to accommodate a sanctuary.

My q is what is the process and formulas need to be used. For now, Can I guess the size would be 1'x1'?

Thanks for your input...

Oct 27, 10 11:03 am
Distant Unicorn

Are they doric or ionic columns?

Oct 27, 10 1:59 pm
le bossman

for a quick rendering, it's probably only important to show where the column is, more so than it's exact size. column type and size will depend on the construction method, seismic zone, tributary loads, bending/buckling/shear, etc. if it's steel, just stick a 6x6 square tube in place, i'm sure that's just fine for your purposes. know your audience, i doubt they care about inches.

Oct 27, 10 2:23 pm

THAT, le bossman, is some good ass advice

Oct 27, 10 2:36 pm
On the fence

decorative? Doesn't matter

structural? If your gonna guess, I'd just go as thin and as cheap as possible. I don't care what the loads are.

Oct 27, 10 2:56 pm

go the minimal route....with some minimal tekno's.....

Oct 27, 10 3:39 pm

no columns!

Oct 27, 10 4:18 pm

Le B: I think 6"x6" is way too slender even for aesthetic reason.

Oct 27, 10 4:18 pm

I would also use 6" tubes, but for the sanctuary space I would increase it to a 10" or 12"....

cmrhm has a good point is a rendering and it needs to exaggerate some of the details a little bit, because if it is too slender it may get overlooked and somebody could question it later, but then again it is a steel unless they are corinthian columns...they will not add any aesthetic value...

Oct 27, 10 5:09 pm
le bossman

how could we know? he didn't show us a picture.

Oct 28, 10 2:20 pm

Thanks le bossman for getting it started. I found some reliable numbers according to ballast structure chapter.

high rise multistory building: 14" deep wide flange column
low rise to mid rise multistory building: 8" deep wide flange

The reason to use wide flange is because both sides with similar length will provide similar rigidity in both axes.

Do you guys know what does "deep" mean here?

Oct 28, 10 3:01 pm

yes, the web

Oct 28, 10 3:03 pm
On the fence

You need to stop guessing at this.

Oct 28, 10 3:05 pm

on the fence: this is a good learning process for me, don't u think? use the real project, real deadline to improve the knowledge in structure area.

Oct 28, 10 3:59 pm

poop876: Thanks for your clarification.

Please help my understanding. for W12x?, the depth for this W shape ranges from 11" to 16", so the deep WF means we should choose sth closer to 16"?

Oct 28, 10 4:10 pm

lets say the wide flange (I beam) is W12x6, the beam height...or in your case the column depth is 12" and the flange (top of the I) itself is 6".

I'm not understanding your question. The beam (column) can range and it is all based on calculation of point loads, lateral loads, spans etc. etc. Now there is something nice and elegant when a beam or column is 12x6, as opposed to a wide flange (I beam) being 12x12....then I would rather use a tube column!

I understand you are new to this, but please next time you post questions give us as many details as possible and of course images are always appreciated....We'd love to know what exactly you are working on, what type of columns you want to use (tubes, I beams, concrete)....then the answers may get a little bit more helpful.

Also, we'd love to know your background....are you a student? what year? etc. etc. because sometimes you will get hurt by answers....

I could have said "Shouldn't you fucking know that?" but then again I don't know how old you are and how long you have been in the field.....



Oct 28, 10 4:21 pm
won and done williams

that's wrong, poop. in W12 x [X], the X stands for pounds per linear foot of steel. it has nothing to do with the width of the section. the W12 (roughly) stands for the depth of the section, but the W does not mean web; it means "wide flange" steel shape.

Oct 28, 10 4:52 pm

you are so soon as I posted it I tried to get Paul to edit haha

I guess I got distracted by reading/typing/thinking oh my phone!

my bad!

Oct 28, 10 4:55 pm
won and done williams

oops, my bad, you are correct.

Oct 28, 10 4:56 pm
won and done williams

i guess we're both right then. there are fabricators that use the depth-width nomenclature you reference (i just googled it - nucor steel). i've just never run across it written like that on a structural drawing or a shop drawing before.

Oct 28, 10 4:59 pm

I should have been more specific...since we were talking about the sizes and not weight of the columns!

Oct 28, 10 5:02 pm

poop876: you properly confused about w12x? like W12x336 means.

W: wide flange
12: width of the flange
332: 332 pounds per linear foot.

"I could have said "Shouldn't you fucking know that?" but then again I don't know how old you are and how long you have been in the field.....


won: This kind of notes I can find on most of structure drawings.

Oct 28, 10 5:11 pm

read above!

Oct 28, 10 5:14 pm
Distant Unicorn

"332: 332 pounds per linear foot"

I hope Oprah has a wide stride!

Oct 28, 10 5:19 pm

Yeah, that is some heavy beam

Oct 28, 10 5:21 pm
creativity expert

"You need to stop guessing at this."-onthefence

I dont understand why you archinectors are surprised that this topic is popping up? I mean we all know that firms are hiring people that don't know the answer to that question or people that know the answer to that question but are not drawing anything anymore. You guys better get used to these questions.

ps. the op is seriously needs to re read his structural class notes from college.

Oct 29, 10 12:45 am

pray for an answer.

Oct 29, 10 11:53 am

TaliesinAGG : 1'x1', it was already figured out. Thanks for the reply though.

Nov 1, 10 3:01 pm

The deeper the cheaper!
That's what she said.

Nov 1, 10 5:29 pm

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