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Structures by Design

Structures by Design: Thinking, Making, + Breaking
Author: Rob Whitehead
Published: Routledge Books (Taylor and Francis Group), 2019

Structures by Design: Thinking, Making, Breaking is an award-winning structures textbook written for those who prefer to learn about buildings using hands-on, creative problem-solving techniques. Instead of focusing only on formulas and diagrams, this book teaches concepts before calculations and how principles of structural and material behavior can be applied to the design of effective, efficient, and expressive building designs.

The book received a 2021 TAA Textbook Excellence Award. The award jury described the book as, “…an innovative and abundantly illustrated book packed with interactive exercises and informative diagrams. It is a book that will likely traverse conventionally siloed aspects of architecture curricula, finding its way into structures courses as well as design studios. The author uses easy-to-understand and appropriate examples, starting with the simple and building to the complex, to walk the reader through the world of structural engineering.”

The book’s format makes it easy to adopt the content into a wide variety of courses that deal with building structures and architectural design.  Each section of the book is focused on a particular manner by which structural resistance is provided: Form (Arches and Cables), Sections (Beams, Slabs, and Columns), Vectors (Trusses and Space Frames), Surfaces (Shells and Plates), and Frames (Connections and High-Rises). More than 500 original illustrations and photos provide example solutions and inspiration for further design exploration.

In each section, design exercises are shown which use a Think, Make, Break method of reiterative design. These examples demonstrate how to generate and evaluate different structural options for building designs using a variety of structural design tools including: the human body, physical models, historical precedents, static diagrams, traditional formulae, and advanced digital analysis. These examples range from introductory lessons of structural fundamentals to advanced techniques and systems. Each chapter includes potential lab exercises, questions for flipped classroom discussions, and suggestions for additional learning.

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