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Durability is Sustainability

x-jla

It seems that there is a lack of discourse around the lifespan of buildings and landscapes.  The idea of a building that lasts 50 - 100 years seems so ridiculous.  Have we given up on the 500-1000 year lifespan building, and accepted this disposable rapidly changing urbanism?  We have an obligation to the future to create places that endure time.  This 4th dimension of architecture is so seldom discussed.  I just wanted to open the conversation.  

 
Sep 17, 22 1:03 pm
JawkneeMusic

well at cal poly even in arch e they don't teach creep nor fatigue nor hardness

Sep 17, 22 4:03 pm  · 
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JawkneeMusic

It's on the PE tho

Sep 17, 22 4:20 pm  · 
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You didn't attend that school or take any of those courses so . . .

Sep 20, 22 10:03 am  · 
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b3tadine[sutures]

Capitalism.

Sep 17, 22 4:26 pm  · 
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x-jla

Modernism.

Sep 17, 22 4:32 pm  · 
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Stasis

+1 on Capitalism.. For our own survival.. some of us live off of retrofit/remodeling/seismic upgrade jobs, and can't always get a new ground up works.. With building becoming sturdier, there may be lesser opportunities.. I think modern smartphones comes to mind. They showcase all the latest tech improvements, but never go for the longevity..

Sep 17, 22 5:38 pm  · 
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x-jla

Lol, have you seen the durability of public works.

Sep 17, 22 6:01 pm  · 
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Stasis

Are you saying they are sturdy? Probably lot more so than the buildings. However, there aren't that many jobs unless they appropriate the funding for them and those works take really long time to plan, design, and build... I do like the idea of durable buildings if the client is willing to do pay for it. I've worked on lot of mission critical buildings where they care about 'can't fail' building systems. These buildings have pretty sturdy enclosures with mostly pre-cast panels, but I am not sure if my client envision to keep these buildings several centuries.  

Sep 17, 22 11:50 pm  · 
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x-jla

Does pre cast last that long?

Sep 18, 22 12:07 am  · 
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Stasis

nah.. even 100 years would be pushing it..

Sep 18, 22 4:27 pm  · 
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x-jla

It’s interesting that the ruins of the future will be much more scattered than the ruins of the past. We will find things like granite sinks in thousands of years, aluminum frames, etc…but not intact buildings or footprints of buildings like those of the past.

Sep 18, 22 4:35 pm  · 
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x-jla

Fields of granite countertops and window frames. Lol

Sep 18, 22 4:36 pm  · 
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Stasis

It maybe so.. While those stone castles last centuries, not sure how many modern buildings as we know of will be around in next century.. I guess even Sagrada Familia would outlast some of the buildings from 1900s. I don't know if it was the original intend, but these buildings from the past do seem to be doing well against time. Perhaps one modern building I think it will challenge these historical buildings would be Getty Center in LA. It is pretty sturdy from seismic stand point (can withstand up to 8.0?). In my opinion, Its stone and white metal facades look pretty timeless and don't show much of aging.. I think the issue may be the construction time.. These historical buildings took ridiculous amount of time to build, and in today's economy, I don't know how much a client would be willing to invest long time and money to develop a sturdy buildings. Pretty much all of my clients care about is how soon we can finish so they can make profit off of the new buildings. Perhaps clients for civic or religious buildings may care for more symbolic, timeless buildings even at longer construction duration.

Sep 18, 22 4:57 pm  · 
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archanonymous

Lol, what? Precast should last several hundred years or more. Last project I did had 12,000psi mix.

Sep 18, 22 9:20 pm  · 
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archanonymous

I think adaptive reuse and reno work is increasing along with awareness of this issue. 


I've designed quite a few built buildings and it really depends on client and budget, and even design expression. 


I posted a precast school building a number of years ago... Other than roofing membrane replacement it should last hundreds of years. Maybe will need new window wall and windows once or twice in there if seals fail. Obviously interior renovations. 


Quite likely the land it is on will become valuable enough that it is demo'd for something else though. 




I've done another project that will need a new stucco facade every 50 years, or continuous quality maintenance. Doubt that it would ever be torn down but who knows. A massive earthquake could destroy it. Would love to see the mass timber structure in 500 years. That's what I call patina. 




I think the projects you are talking about are single family frame homes and cheap commercial shit. Most educational and civic projects, even corporate hqs are designed for very long lives. 

Sep 17, 22 6:09 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

Durability and longevity come up constantly in my circles. They are integral to a "green" building. But there is also an argument that buildings don't need to be designed to last that long, as things change and a low-carbon building that can be remodeled or replaced easily has benefits as well.

Tedd Benson writes about "disentangling" the long-lasting elements--the foundation and structure--from the things like finishes and mechanical systems that will definitely be replaced within decades at most.

I think designers, builders and clients who are obsessed with making buildings that will last centuries are usually more interested in creating monuments to themselves than anything altruistic. 

Sep 18, 22 10:13 am  · 
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x-jla

But buildings that last for centuries also help to create a sense of place and culture. It seems to me like if cities constantly turn over new buildings, without the layering and the artifacts of the past, everywhere will be dominated by the same contemporary thing.

Sep 18, 22 11:50 am  · 
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basmania

the book "Vital Architecture" discusses this topic:
https://www.amazon.com/Vital-A...

Sep 18, 22 3:19 pm  · 
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proto

I believe this was a diagram in one of the case studies in A Pretty Good House

It divided the house systems into elements of substantial age: shell, frame, finishes, infrastructural services [just going off memory here]. And it proposes an arrangement that allows the lesser long-living systems be located near the center where they can be accessed during the longer life of the building shell.

An interesting take

[edit]I see Wood Guy mentions it above...ah well...

Sep 18, 22 4:38 pm  · 
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Wood Guy

I didn't mention the book, though, so thanks for that!

We also had Tedd Benson on The BS + Beer Show to discuss the concept: https://www.greenbuildingadvis...

Sep 18, 22 4:50 pm  · 
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jcarch

I always loved this line by Steve Marin in LA Story, giving someone a driving tour of L.A.

"Some of these building are over 20 years old!!!"

Sep 20, 22 9:53 am  · 
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citizen

Agreed!  And later, getting in the car and driving to the house next door. I love that movie.  Sorry, film.

Sep 20, 22 5:06 pm  · 
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TIQM

Lovability is sustainability. 

Sep 25, 22 2:46 pm  · 
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