O P I N I O N
Keep it simple
W hen I first started working as a structural engineer, I was fortunate to live only three blocks away from our office in downtown Dallas. Being so close to work was great, but one of my favorite things to do during those early years was take long aimless walks through downtown on the weekends. Explaining things in overly technical terms could result in your message getting lost, so find ways to simplify so the most important ideas are grasped by everyone.
Sunday mornings were best because the streets were empty. It gave me ample space to stop and admire the details in so many of the beautiful buildings that make up the cityscape. Some of my favorites are the Adolphus, Magnolia, and Dallas Power and Lights buildings, all within close proximity to each other. Their ornamental facades are each unique and have stood proud for decades. As a young engineer I was in awe of how complex these buildings appeared to be. I wondered how long it would take before I “got it” and could wrap my head around the design of a building. Fast forward a few years and I had learned a thing or two about design, but was less experienced with the detailing and coordination required to put a set of construction documents together. The problem had only grown more complex once
I started working with other disciplines, trying to understand their systems and how they would interact with my design. I remember my boss telling me over and over to just “draw what you know,” which was great advice. When doing this, not only does the complexity of the problem melt away, but it also becomes clear what information is lacking. That becomes a jumping off point for asking questions, seeking answers, and not overcomplicating the design. Buildings these days are documented with thousands of details across a construction set that is often hundreds of pages long. I think back to those old buildings I admired on my Sunday walks and wonder how they turned out so well
See SETH CARLTON, page 10
THE ZWEIG LETTER JULY 12, 2021, ISSUE 1399
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