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New Driveway Makes Sidewalk Non-ADA Compliant (Updated)

March 1, 2012 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability 58 Comments

The former Burger King restaurant at 7th/Park/Broadway is gone, nobody fights to save an old suburban prototype fast food chain.

ABOVE: Aerial image of the Burger King before being razed, click image to view in Google Maps

Hardly a pedestrian paradise but sidewalks were continuous around the property boundaries. I’ve been watching the site since the Burger King closed. Last year work began on the site, passing by on the #30 MetroBus I’ve snapped pictures.

ABOVE: Site after the Burger King was cleared last year
ABOVE: The company to the north has built a bare concrete windowless warehouse on seen on Tuesday.

Beautiful it isn’t but something else caught my eye as the bus went south on Broadway.

ABOVE: New driveway to Park bisects the public sidewalk without ADA ramps.

Really? I’d like to slap the person(s) that poured those concrete curbs without making provisions for wheelchairs. The inspectors also deserve a slap since this work is in the public right-of-way.

I’m sending this post to Clean the Uniform and people at city hall.

Update 3/1/2012 @ 11am:

This will get fixed as part of a project titled 8496 BROADWAY & 7TH STREET IMPROVEMENTS (PARK AVENUE TO I-55 OVERPASSS),FEDERAL PROJECT STP-5422(612), ST. LOUIS, MO : that will have a pre-construction conference on March 7th. Still, this shows clear lack of oversight on the part of inspectors to allow something like this to get built in the first place.

 – Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "58 comments" on this Article:

  1. RyleyinSTL says:

    There is no excuse for this.  One would think if you made your living pouring concrete and/or planning and executing these sorts of projects that these things would not be over looked. Sure it’s an example of ridiculous incompetence (yet again) but I think it also shows, laws or not, that some people just don’t give a crap.

    Question – When you pull a permit for this sort of work do you have to submit drawings to the city?  Does the city actually review them before approving?  Is any of this info electronically available?

     
  2. RyleyinSTL says:

    There is no excuse for this.  One would think if you made your living pouring concrete and/or planning and executing these sorts of projects that these things would not be over looked. Sure it’s an example of ridiculous incompetence (yet again) but I think it also shows, laws or not, that some people just don’t give a crap.

    Question – When you pull a permit for this sort of work do you have to submit drawings to the city?  Does the city actually review them before approving?  Is any of this info electronically available?

     
    • Msrdls says:

      The City does a very thorough review, and often they will spot errors and point them out to the “design professional” responsible for the error. BUT THE CITY IS NOT THE DESIGN PROFESSIONAL.  On a sidewalk review, they’ll probably  look at the curb/walk interface; curb heights, sidewalk widths; curb cut transitions/sidewalk transitions to aprons. But the City reviews these drawings from a different perspective, and they don’t “walk through” the site as the “design professional” should. The City is NOT responsible for the ultimate design, whether or not they issued a building permit, and it is the “design professional’s” responsibility to assure code compliance. Often the “design professional” will put the heavy hand on the contractor to correct the design errors, and typically the contractor will bite the bullet so he doesn’t get crucified on the next job!  ….so goes the world of contracting and design.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        The sidewalk is on the public ROW, so the city is ultimately responsible.  Yes, both the design professional and/or the flatwork contractor dropped the ball on this, but if the city is going to charge a fee and allegedly review the plans and the actual construction for compliance, they ultimately bear some responsibility, as well.  This ain’t rocket science, this is an egregious oversight / mistake / blatant disregard of what should be SOP for ANY new curb cut!  However, in the city’s defense, unless the inspector was present during the actual pour, the contractor could very well have already been told to redo this, and has yet had an opportunity to do so.

         
        • Msrdls says:

          SPOKEN LIKE A CLASSIC ARCHITECT!!!!! I disagree that the flatwork contractor has necessarily dropped ANY ball, as you say! “Design professionals” are responsible for the “design”. The flatwork contractor is responsible for the execution of the design. And don’t expect the City to step forward to accept any “ultimate (or otherwise) responsibility” ($$$$$$$) for this oversight. Corrective measures SHOULD BE PAID FOR by the “design professional”–but we all know that he/she will wiggle out of it. Having worked as both a field laborer and as a structural design professional, I try to keep an open mind when it comes to evaluating oversights, omissions and everyday  errors. We “design professionals” ain’t always right.

           
          • JZ71 says:

            Hey, I agree, the architect or the civil engineer should have designed it correctly, but I’m also saying that the flatwork contractor should have questioned it and the city should not have accepted it (if they have).  If the design professional screwed up, odds are they’ll be paying.  If the flatwork contractor misread the plans or specs, they’ll eat the cost of redoing it.  And if the city approved the plans and signed off on the permit, oh well, it’s not their fault, and the owner will be left pointing fingers and/or “This will get fixed as part of a project titled 8496 BROADWAY & 7TH STREET IMPROVEMENTS (PARK AVENUE TO I-55 OVERPASSS),FEDERAL PROJECT STP-5422(612), ST. LOUIS, MO”, aka your tax dollars at work!

            EVERY design professional should do their job well, including complying with all applicable regulations.  Do they occassionally get missed?  Absolutely.  If you need a professional to figure them out, they’re probably too complex for the average layman.  That’s also why plans are reviewed and “approved”, to catch problems before they get built – it’s always cheaper to change them on paper.  And are there prima donna architects, who “know everything”?  Yes, but to accuse the entire profession based on your bad experiences with a few is just as absurd as saying all engineers are incompetent and wear pocket protectors(they’re not and they don’t) or all flatwork contractors are barely literate (they’re not).

            SOMEONE on the construction TEAM dropped the ball here and no one called them on it until, apparently, Steve did.  That’s the real problem.  It shouldn’t be up to Joe Citizen to identify and call out recurring problems like this one.  It’s not rocket science.  Connect the dots!  Provide a continuous path of travel!  I do it on my projects, as do most other architects and engineers.  We just need to get from most to all!

             
  3. shabadoo says:

    This intersection was horrible for pedestrians before this latest slap in the face.  Either way you choose to go downtown on foot from Soulard, seventh or broadway each have there own foibles and you can get stranded with no sidewalk at all (if you take broadway, or get knockout gamed as I did).  None of this is particularly surprising considering usually the only people walking from Soulard to dt are the bums and I.  Usually; not during the summer and Cards season.  The city needs radical improvement of this intersection and the whole route from Soulard to the stadium (and stadium station)  Thousands of locals and tourists take this route for games, and besides being able to drink a beer with no hassle on the way, it’s a very ugly face of the city.  Also, many tourists staying at dt hotels visit Soulard Market (and Soulard in general); the connection between the two locals go from a zero to a hero!

     
  4. shabadoo says:

    This intersection was horrible for pedestrians before this latest slap in the face.  Either way you choose to go downtown on foot from Soulard, seventh or broadway each have there own foibles and you can get stranded with no sidewalk at all (if you take broadway, or get knockout gamed as I did).  None of this is particularly surprising considering usually the only people walking from Soulard to dt are the bums and I.  Usually; not during the summer and Cards season.  The city needs radical improvement of this intersection and the whole route from Soulard to the stadium (and stadium station)  Thousands of locals and tourists take this route for games, and besides being able to drink a beer with no hassle on the way, it’s a very ugly face of the city.  Also, many tourists staying at dt hotels visit Soulard Market (and Soulard in general); the connection between the two locals go from a zero to a hero!

     
  5. Tpekren says:

    Steve, could you clarify.  Is the new warehouse built on the old Burger King site? Did they add a right turn cutoff or is that a driveway to the warehouse loading dock?  All in all, it looks like terrible site planning if what you see is what you get.  Their some markings as if you might see some demo of the sidewalk, etc. and construction doesn’t appear complete (as far as details on parameter of building)  So not sure if you will see the same thing in a couple of months.  That being said, the cost should have been minimal to do things right.

     

     
  6. Tpekren says:

    Steve, could you clarify.  Is the new warehouse built on the old Burger King site? Did they add a right turn cutoff or is that a driveway to the warehouse loading dock?  All in all, it looks like terrible site planning if what you see is what you get.  Their some markings as if you might see some demo of the sidewalk, etc. and construction doesn’t appear complete (as far as details on parameter of building)  So not sure if you will see the same thing in a couple of months.  That being said, the cost should have been minimal to do things right.

     

     
  7. Guest says:

    Maybe your focus would be better at fixing existing sidewalks. There are more roots pushing up concrete sidewalks creating impasses then curb cut issues in the city. 

    All drawings must be submitted to the city for permit, however a review of them is questionable. 
    I’d say a $12 mil investment in the city for new facilities is far better than another fast food restaurant. 

    The curb cut is actually for a loading dock on site. It is up to the designer to not have those issues, and a good GC may catch those issues, but even then its a liability for the GC/ Concrete contractor to install something that is not on the plans.

    To me it appears that there is no curb cut on the existing public median, and therefor the contractor did not put a curb cut on the private side.   

     
  8. Guest says:

    Maybe your focus would be better at fixing existing sidewalks. There are more roots pushing up concrete sidewalks creating impasses then curb cut issues in the city. 

    All drawings must be submitted to the city for permit, however a review of them is questionable. 
    I’d say a $12 mil investment in the city for new facilities is far better than another fast food restaurant. 

    The curb cut is actually for a loading dock on site. It is up to the designer to not have those issues, and a good GC may catch those issues, but even then its a liability for the GC/ Concrete contractor to install something that is not on the plans.

    To me it appears that there is no curb cut on the existing public median, and therefor the contractor did not put a curb cut on the private side.   

     
  9. Msrdls says:

    Drawings are prepared by “professionals” who should know better. Often they do, but sometimes they just make careless, honest mistakes. Concrete flatwork contractors and general contractors are not responsible for code compliance, but often both contractors have enough experience to recognize potential problems and to request a second look from the “design professional” prior to actually beginning the work. Actually, in St. Louis, I have found that our flatwork contractors are conscientious and informed….and I know personally of several cases where they saved the “design professionals’ ” asses. I worked as a laborer during the summers prior to earning my engineering degrees, and I learned from that field experience that sometimes “design professionals” are horses asses, and therefore contractors sometimes develop the attitude that they’ll do the work as shown on the drawings, and if there’s a problem, the “design professional” will have to work it out. Often “design professionals” will not review these issues in a timely manner, forcing the flatwork contractor to either pull off the job or send their crews home and without pay. I worked once with an architect who had the attitude that he was godlike and his drawings were flawless. In the end, the General Contractor showed him in no uncertain way  that it’s better to be a team player. Don’t be too hard on the working man, doing his job in the field. He’s out there trying to do a job, and all the while snow, wind, rain and freezing temps are fighting him. It’s just not his job to question compliance. It’s his job to be sure the curbs faces are plumb, that the expansion and cracker joints are placed per industry standards, that the concrete mixes meet the spec, that the finish meets industry standards.

     
  10. Msrdls says:

    Drawings are prepared by “professionals” who should know better. Often they do, but sometimes they just make careless, honest mistakes. Concrete flatwork contractors and general contractors are not responsible for code compliance, but often both contractors have enough experience to recognize potential problems and to request a second look from the “design professional” prior to actually beginning the work. Actually, in St. Louis, I have found that our flatwork contractors are conscientious and informed….and I know personally of several cases where they saved the “design professionals’ ” asses. I worked as a laborer during the summers prior to earning my engineering degrees, and I learned from that field experience that sometimes “design professionals” are horses asses, and therefore contractors sometimes develop the attitude that they’ll do the work as shown on the drawings, and if there’s a problem, the “design professional” will have to work it out. Often “design professionals” will not review these issues in a timely manner, forcing the flatwork contractor to either pull off the job or send their crews home and without pay. I worked once with an architect who had the attitude that he was godlike and his drawings were flawless. In the end, the General Contractor showed him in no uncertain way  that it’s better to be a team player. Don’t be too hard on the working man, doing his job in the field. He’s out there trying to do a job, and all the while snow, wind, rain and freezing temps are fighting him. It’s just not his job to question compliance. It’s his job to be sure the curbs faces are plumb, that the expansion and cracker joints are placed per industry standards, that the concrete mixes meet the spec, that the finish meets industry standards.

     
  11. The public sidewalk was continuous before construction and now it’s not. Someone failed.

     
  12. I don’t know who’s to blame for this error.

     
  13. Msrdls says:

    The City does a very thorough review, and often they will spot errors and point them out to the “design professional” responsible for the error. BUT THE CITY IS NOT THE DESIGN PROFESSIONAL.  On a sidewalk review, they’ll probably  look at the curb/walk interface; curb heights, sidewalk widths; curb cut transitions/sidewalk transitions to aprons. But the City reviews these drawings from a different perspective, and they don’t “walk through” the site as the “design professional” should. The City is NOT responsible for the ultimate design, whether or not they issued a building permit, and it is the “design professional’s” responsibility to assure code compliance. Often the “design professional” will put the heavy hand on the contractor to correct the design errors, and typically the contractor will bite the bullet so he doesn’t get crucified on the next job!  ….so goes the world of contracting and design.

     
  14. Anonymous says:

    The sidewalk is on the public ROW, so the city is ultimately responsible.  Yes, both the design professional and/or the flatwork contractor dropped the ball on this, but if the city is going to charge a fee and allegedly review the plans and the actual construction for compliance, they ultimately bear some responsibility, as well.  This ain’t rocket science, this is an egregious oversight / mistake / blatant disregard of what should be SOP for ANY new curb cut!  However, in the city’s defense, unless the inspector was present during the actual pour, the contractor could very well have already been told to redo this, and has yet had an opportunity to do so.

     
  15. Anonymous says:

    Bigger picture, is the new structure an improvement over the old one?  It’s much closer to the sidewalk, on all three sides, and it has windows and, apparently, doors into the first (and only ) level.  Does it make the site more “urban” and pedestrian friendly?

     
  16. JZ71 says:

    Bigger picture, is the new structure an improvement over the old one?  It’s much closer to the sidewalk, on all three sides, and it has windows and, apparently, doors into the first (and only ) level.  Does it make the site more “urban” and pedestrian friendly?

     
    • MattH says:

      I ride the #30 daily and watched this building go up.  I was encouraged at first with the footprint and that it was to be built to the sidewalk, but that is one of the ugliest buildings built in a while.  I know it is industrial, but the tilt-up concrete facade is about as ugly as it can get.  There was no attempt to make the concrete look respectable at all.  The final site design, as pointed out with the original post, is weak at best.

       
  17. GMichaud says:

    Of course the whole general area is not in what could be considered walking condition, it is not only to those in wheelchairs, but also the average person who is suffering. Do you really think anyone is going to be walking in this area in the first place?  I can’t tell you how many times I passed this intersection and I don’t remember any real pedestrians.  There are a few I’m sure, but the real problem is the neglect of a larger city plan than includes pedestrians along with  those who use a wheelchair.
    I have traversed this area when I lived in Soulard and felt like walking downtown. (Actually I used to take photographs off the MacArthur Bridge when you could take the pedestrian pathway). But truthfully this specific failure is only a part of a larger failure that excludes not only ADA individuals, but the citizens of the city. You would think the city would work to develop a nice walking path to downtown from the Soulard area. A long walk for sure but doable and if made desirable by making it attractive, perhaps even a walk people would prefer to undertake.
    As it stands, I understand your complaint about the accessibility, and as usual, you are correct, but the underlying problem is a dysfunctional City Government that has no idea how to build cities and and the urban environment. ADA individuals will never be properly served if the citizens as whole are not served. There is no real leadership. The proof is in what you have presented here. The City cannot get ADA right because they can’t get the needs of the average pedestrian right. Bullshit blaming design professionals, they only do what they are told.

     
  18. GMichaud says:

    Of course the whole general area is not in what could be considered walking condition, it is not only to those in wheelchairs, but also the average person who is suffering. Do you really think anyone is going to be walking in this area in the first place?  I can’t tell you how many times I passed this intersection and I don’t remember any real pedestrians.  There are a few I’m sure, but the real problem is the neglect of a larger city plan than includes pedestrians along with  those who use a wheelchair.
    I have traversed this area when I lived in Soulard and felt like walking downtown. (Actually I used to take photographs off the MacArthur Bridge when you could take the pedestrian pathway). But truthfully this specific failure is only a part of a larger failure that excludes not only ADA individuals, but the citizens of the city. You would think the city would work to develop a nice walking path to downtown from the Soulard area. A long walk for sure but doable and if made desirable by making it attractive, perhaps even a walk people would prefer to undertake.
    As it stands, I understand your complaint about the accessibility, and as usual, you are correct, but the underlying problem is a dysfunctional City Government that has no idea how to build cities and and the urban environment. ADA individuals will never be properly served if the citizens as whole are not served. There is no real leadership. The proof is in what you have presented here. The City cannot get ADA right because they can’t get the needs of the average pedestrian right. Bullshit blaming design professionals, they only do what they are told.

     
    • Msrdls says:

      GMichaud: You wrote: “Bullshit blaming design professional. They only do what they are told”. That is absolutely inaccurate. I worked 6+ years to earn my degrees in structural engineering, and I refuse to “do what I am told” by anyone, including an owner, contractor or boss. I do what is right, and I have never found myself in a line collecting an unemployment check. Nor do I envision that scenario anytime soon!  Plus, no owner, no contractor, no boss has ever asked me to compromise my design. I can sleep at nights.  

       
      • GMichaud says:

         You miss my point, if the city and owner are committed to good design, compliant to ADA specs, it will happen, the designer works within the framework of what the owner and city demand. I’m not trying to absolve anyone of responsibility, although it would more likely be an engineer rather than an architect designing this area. In any case, it is useless to blame the design professional if there is not a commitment from the city to do things correct in the first place. As I point out this area is already a pedestrian wasteland, which ultimately can be traced to neglect on part of the city.
        In fact Steve has consistently pointed out poor ADA designs for quite some time, is it because design professionals are nincompoops, no, the main problem is the city has dropped the ball, and there is where you need to go to correct the problem. If the city demands well thought out ADA designs, it will happen. Otherwise you get what you have now, a mish mash of approaches.
        I especially like the well thought out pole in the middle of the ADA access ramp. There is even a second pole in case the wheelchair gets by the first one too easy. But as Steve points out there is no provision to go that direction. Whose fault is this arrangement? I’d say the focus should be on the city.

         
  19. Msrdls says:

    SPOKEN LIKE A CLASSIC ARCHITECT!!!!! I disagree that the flatwork contractor has necessarily dropped ANY ball, as you say! “Design professionals” are responsible for the “design”. The flatwork contractor is responsible for the execution of the design. And don’t expect the City to step forward to accept any “ultimate (or otherwise) responsibility” ($$$$$$$) for this oversight. Corrective measures SHOULD BE PAID FOR by the “design professional”–but we all know that he/she will wiggle out of it. Having worked as both a field laborer and as a structural design professional, I try to keep an open mind when it comes to evaluating oversights, omissions and everyday  errors. We “design professionals” ain’t always right.

     
  20. Msrdls says:

    GMichaud: You wrote: “Bullshit blaming design professional. They only do what they are told”. That is absolutely inaccurate. I worked 6+ years to earn my degrees in structural engineering, and I refuse to “do what I am told” by anyone, including an owner, contractor or boss. I do what is right, and I have never found myself in a line collecting an unemployment check. Nor do I envision that scenario anytime soon!  Plus, no owner, no contractor, no boss has ever asked me to compromise my design. I can sleep at nights.  

     
  21. GMichaud says:

     You miss my point, if the city and owner are committed to good design, compliant to ADA specs, it will happen, the designer works within the framework of what the owner and city demand. I’m not trying to absolve anyone of responsibility, although it would more likely be an engineer rather than an architect designing this area. In any case, it is useless to blame the design professional if there is not a commitment from the city to do things correct in the first place. As I point out this area is already a pedestrian wasteland, which ultimately can be traced to neglect on part of the city.
    In fact Steve has consistently pointed out poor ADA designs for quite some time, is it because design professionals are nincompoops, no, the main problem is the city has dropped the ball, and there is where you need to go to correct the problem. If the city demands well thought out ADA designs, it will happen. Otherwise you get what you have now, a mish mash of approaches.
    I especially like the well thought out pole in the middle of the ADA access ramp. There is even a second pole in case the wheelchair gets by the first one too easy. But as Steve points out there is no provision to go that direction. Whose fault is this arrangement? I’d say the focus should be on the city.

     
  22. Msrdls says:

    My first 10 years out of grad school were in Los Angeles, where great attention is given by municipal building authorities to seismic design, ADA compliance and architectural fru-fru, in that order..  Even in LA, authorities will not always require the developer to relocate a traffic pole or streetlight pole if an acceptable alternative location for a disabled ramp is recommended by the civil engineer and architect, and if the solution meets the needs of the general public. There has to be give and take on both sides. But it is CLEARLY the role of the architect (and civil engineer) to orchstrate a discussion for such a compromise. Like it or not, the City has to remain developer-friendly. Unless they are, business development and expansion will fizzle. Life safety issues should not be open for discussion, but issues that might result in a slight inconvenience certainly can be negotiated. It looks to me that the steel pole’s presence in the center of the ramp would only inconvenience a disabled user. I’m not certain that a slight inconvenience is reason to reloate the steel pole.

    Bottom line is this, in my opinion:  Either the “missing” ramp is shown or it is not shown on the civil drawing. If the drawing is silent on the issue, it is the architect and his consultant’s (civil engineer) responsiblility to  correct the oversight. If the drawing shows the ramp and if the flatwork contractor missed it, it is the general contractor and his subcontractor’s (flatwork contractor) responsibility to correct the oversight.

     
  23. Msrdls says:

    My first 10 years out of grad school were in Los Angeles, where great attention is given by municipal building authorities to seismic design, ADA compliance and architectural fru-fru, in that order..  Even in LA, authorities will not always require the developer to relocate a traffic pole or streetlight pole if an acceptable alternative location for a disabled ramp is recommended by the civil engineer and architect, and if the solution meets the needs of the general public. There has to be give and take on both sides. But it is CLEARLY the role of the architect (and civil engineer) to orchstrate a discussion for such a compromise. Like it or not, the City has to remain developer-friendly. Unless they are, business development and expansion will fizzle. Life safety issues should not be open for discussion, but issues that might result in a slight inconvenience certainly can be negotiated. It looks to me that the steel pole’s presence in the center of the ramp would only inconvenience a disabled user. I’m not certain that a slight inconvenience is reason to reloate the steel pole.

    Bottom line is this, in my opinion:  Either the “missing” ramp is shown or it is not shown on the civil drawing. If the drawing is silent on the issue, it is the architect and his consultant’s (civil engineer) responsiblility to  correct the oversight. If the drawing shows the ramp and if the flatwork contractor missed it, it is the general contractor and his subcontractor’s (flatwork contractor) responsibility to correct the oversight.

     
    • GMichaud says:

       Do cities allow 2 x 4’s say 24 inches on center to be built to support floors? No of course not,it is the ultimate responsibility of the city to say it can’t be built in this way. Will people game the system and build structures with 2×4’s as floor supports, probably yes, if they can get away with it. Depending on random designers, flatwork contractors and so on is fine and dandy, but as I point out above that tis approach, heavily documented by Steve in recent years, is not working. It is the ultimate responsibility of the city to insure that current specifications and reasonable use patterns are followed. The problem that I see is that apparently the City of St.Louis can care less about this issue and about urban planning in general.
      And by the way, just because LA leaves poles in the middle of ADA intersections, I guess it is alright by you?
      The bottom line is that despite your high sounding pronouncements, you don’t care either. How in the hell is leaving a pole in the middle of an ADA ramp a compromise, and for whom? Certainly not for the individual in the wheelchair. Who else but the disabled user has the greatest need for the ramp in the first place? But the pole is okay with you, the almighty and all knowing engineer. That’s big of you.

       
      • Msrdls says:

        Thanks for your vote of confidence. I appreciate your support. Yes, the pole works for me because it doesn’t compromise life-safety….and because any ramp is better than no ramp…..and the real world recognizes the value in that~! Those who sit in their offices and stare at colors, fabrics and wall coverings  all day probably don’t get it.

         
        • JZ71 says:

          Another way to look at it is whether curb ramps were not specified because it was assumed that the sidewalk would remain flat, with a driveway flaring up to it, or if the driveway was shown with continuous curbs, as built?  If the plans and specs were ambiguous, I could see the designer and the city assuming the former and the contractor and/or the owner assuming the latter.

           
        • GMichaud says:

           Msrdls so lousy design is okay with you, that is the exact arrogant attitude that allows these situations to occur.Lousy design is negotiable as long it is only the disabled that are inconvenienced.
          If the city made it clear to developers that only fully compliant, well designed ADA projects were acceptable, developers would budget for it from the start. Since you don’t seem to get it I guess you better get out of you office and stop staring at the colors, fabrics and will coverings.

           
          • Msrdls says:

            Actually, I have no particular dog in the hunt. I stopped doing civil design 12 years ago. I now do only structural work.  And for whatever reason, no one ever questions a structural design. Is it apathy? Don’t think so, because I’ve fought with architecgts for hours to save a column, or a full-depth girder.! There must be another reason!!!! And I don’t stare at fabrics and wall coverings. But I do walk on sidewalks, and I think I’m aware of potential sidewalk hazards vs potential sidewalk nuisances. Forgive me, I need to check out a lovely carpet color that I’m considering using in my next remodel!

            PS: Before a developer commits to a project, he has a good handle on his costs. And if he knows UPFRONT that he’ll need to make too many utility adjustments, he just may take his project to an adjacent city/municipality, where building authorities are more developer friendly. I’ve never been on a designed project where, in the process of building,  the owner/architect/contractor walk smack up against a pole and declare, in unison:  “Oh, my God! There’s a pole there!  Whatever are we going to do?” That’s what as-built surveys are for. And if the pole is missed, the surveyor just bought and donated a disabled [email protected]!!!

             
          • JZ71 says:

            “And for whatever reason, no one ever questions a structural design. Is it apathy? Don’t think so . . . There must be another reason!!!!”  Yeah, until something fails, nobody really cares.  It’s either right or it’s wrong, there are no grey areas, unlike aesthetic issues, where there few absolutes:  http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19820049

             
          • Msrdls says:

            Then it IS apathy! (Here I always thought there was another reason behind it!)

             
      • Msrdls says:

        GMichaud: Many/most cities typically do not specify the structural components used in a floor- or roof-deck design. If an engineer is clever enough to use bamboo to structure a deck, and if that material can be made to meet all other prevailing code requirements, then bamboo  it is!!!!!  It is NOT the ultimate responsibility of any city to specify the allowable structural components to be used in any assembly. Many/most municipal building officials respond mostly to the numbers. If you can prove on paper that your design will work, then typically, they’ll say to go ahead and build it~!~~~~~! (And, by the way, 2 x 4s used at 24″ oc  will work in a floor and roof-deck assembly (even with heavy snow-load requirements !!!!! Used in conjunction with gussets/perlins and beams all properly spaced, it becomes a  masterfully labor-driven sinkhole and material wasteland. But the numbers will prove themselves, and I cannot imagine a building official saying NO.) Do you think for a moment that the switch from 3-wyth masonry load-bearing walls to     2 x 4 didn’t meet with resistance from building officials? But the initial engineer accompanied the request with a sheet of calculations….and presto!  Man has come of age! Cities cannot be expected to have all the answers and serve as the all-knowing authorties on every building issue. That’s why engineers were brought on board!!!!!  And just think: Yesterday I couldn’t spell “aingineer” and now I are one!!!!

         
        • GMichaud says:

           Msrdls the point wasn’t that you couldn’t come up with other solutions, like I said you better get out of your office, you don’t get it. I am saying the city has ultimate responsibility to insure public safety, they don’t fall down on the job when it comes to sizing floor joists, stairways etc, so why should they not apply the same vigor in support of ADA compliant projects?

           
          • Msrdls says:

            The problem with your last sentence is that the City has NEVER sized a joist. Ever. NEVER WILL!  Don’t!  Doesn’t!  Can’t.  Shouldn’t.  Knows better.

             
          • GMichaud says:

             Again, the city insures the joists are properly sized, correct? In the same way they should look after projects to insure they are ADA compliant, that they actually work and function properly. (Oh and guess what, they don’t design ADA compliant aspects of a project either) (Nor do they design stairways, nor window openings, nor ceiling heights, but they are all under the review of the City).
            You’re just making things up at this point. I see why you said Yesterday I couldn’t spell “aingineer” and now I are one! I guess you weren’t kidding.

             
          • Msrdls says:

            No, the City does NOT “insure the joists are properly sized” (necessarily and de facto). The City asks for my sealed structural calculations, and they are filed away with the permit application. They are not submitted for review or approval. They are submitted for record purposes. I doubt the City employs a structural engineer. I may be wrong, but I think they are all civil, and many in the permit review department have architectural and/or architectural-engineering backgrounds, many (some?) of whom are unfamilar with structural calculations. Still can’t spell “aingineer”~! Gee, I hope you “kan teeche me”.

             
  24. GMichaud says:

     Do cities allow 2 x 4’s say 24 inches on center to be built to support floors? No of course not,it is the ultimate responsibility of the city to say it can’t be built in this way. Will people game the system and build structures with 2×4’s as floor supports, probably yes, if they can get away with it. Depending on random designers, flatwork contractors and so on is fine and dandy, but as I point out above that tis approach, heavily documented by Steve in recent years, is not working. It is the ultimate responsibility of the city to insure that current specifications and reasonable use patterns are followed. The problem that I see is that apparently the City of St.Louis can care less about this issue and about urban planning in general.
    And by the way, just because LA leaves poles in the middle of ADA intersections, I guess it is alright by you?
    The bottom line is that despite your high sounding pronouncements, you don’t care either. How in the hell is leaving a pole in the middle of an ADA ramp a compromise, and for whom? Certainly not for the individual in the wheelchair. Who else but the disabled user has the greatest need for the ramp in the first place? But the pole is okay with you, the almighty and all knowing engineer. That’s big of you.

     
  25. Msrdls says:

    Thanks for your vote of confidence. I appreciate your support. Yes, the pole works for me because it doesn’t compromise life-safety….and because any ramp is better than no ramp…..and the real world recognizes the value in that~! Those who sit in their offices and stare at colors, fabrics and wall coverings  all day probably don’t get it.

     
  26. Anonymous says:

    Hey, I agree, the architect or the civil engineer should have designed it correctly, but I’m also saying that the flatwork contractor should have questioned it and the city should not have accepted it (if they have).  If the design professional screwed up, odds are they’ll be paying.  If the flatwork contractor misread the plans or specs, they’ll eat the cost of redoing it.  And if the city approved the plans and signed off on the permit, oh well, it’s not their fault, and the owner will be left pointing fingers and/or “This will get fixed as part of a project titled 8496 BROADWAY & 7TH STREET IMPROVEMENTS (PARK AVENUE TO I-55 OVERPASSS),FEDERAL PROJECT STP-5422(612), ST. LOUIS, MO”, aka your tax dollars at work!

    EVERY design professional should do their job well, including complying with all applicable regulations.  Do they occassionally get missed?  Absolutely.  If you need a professional to figure them out, they’re probably too complex for the average layman.  That’s also why plans are reviewed and “approved”, to catch problems before they get built – it’s always cheaper to change them on paper.  And are there prima donna architects, who “know everything”?  Yes, but to accuse the entire profession based on your bad experiences with a few is just as absurd as saying all engineers are incompetent and wear pocket protectors(they’re not and they don’t) or all flatwork contractors are barely literate (they’re not).

    SOMEONE on the construction TEAM dropped the ball here and no one called them on it until, apparently, Steve did.  That’s the real problem.  It shouldn’t be up to Joe Citizen to identify and call out recurring problems like this one.  It’s not rocket science.  Connect the dots!  Provide a continuous path of travel!  I do it on my projects, as do most other architects and engineers.  We just need to get from most to all!

     
  27. Anonymous says:

    Another way to look at it is whether curb ramps were not specified because it was assumed that the sidewalk would remain flat, with a driveway flaring up to it, or if the driveway was shown with continuous curbs, as built?  If the plans and specs were ambiguous, I could see the designer and the city assuming the former and the contractor and/or the owner assuming the latter.

     
  28. Msrdls says:

    GMichaud: Many/most cities typically do not specify the structural components used in a floor- or roof-deck design. If an engineer is clever enough to use bamboo to structure a deck, and if that material can be made to meet all other prevailing code requirements, then bamboo  it is!!!!!  It is NOT the ultimate responsibility of any city to specify the allowable structural components to be used in any assembly. Many/most municipal building officials respond mostly to the numbers. If you can prove on paper that your design will work, then typically, they’ll say to go ahead and build it~!~~~~~! (And, by the way, 2 x 4s used at 24″ oc  will work in a floor and roof-deck assembly (even with heavy snow-load requirements !!!!! Used in conjunction with gussets/perlins and beams all properly spaced, it becomes a  masterfully labor-driven sinkhole and material wasteland. But the numbers will prove themselves, and I cannot imagine a building official saying NO.) Do you think for a moment that the switch from 3-wyth masonry load-bearing walls to     2 x 4 didn’t meet with resistance from building officials? But the initial engineer accompanied the request with a sheet of calculations….and presto!  Man has come of age! Cities cannot be expected to have all the answers and serve as the all-knowing authorties on every building issue. That’s why engineers were brought on board!!!!!  And just think: Yesterday I couldn’t spell “aingineer” and now I are one!!!!

     
  29. GMichaud says:

     Msrdls so lousy design is okay with you, that is the exact arrogant attitude that allows these situations to occur.Lousy design is negotiable as long it is only the disabled that are inconvenienced.
    If the city made it clear to developers that only fully compliant, well designed ADA projects were acceptable, developers would budget for it from the start. Since you don’t seem to get it I guess you better get out of you office and stop staring at the colors, fabrics and will coverings.

     
  30. GMichaud says:

     Msrdls the point wasn’t that you couldn’t come up with other solutions, like I said you better get out of your office, you don’t get it. I am saying the city has ultimate responsibility to insure public safety, they don’t fall down on the job when it comes to sizing floor joists, stairways etc, so why should they not apply the same vigor in support of ADA compliant projects?

     
  31. MattH says:

    I ride the #30 daily and watched this building go up.  I was encouraged at first with the footprint and that it was to be built to the sidewalk, but that is one of the ugliest buildings built in a while.  I know it is industrial, but the tilt-up concrete facade is about as ugly as it can get.  There was no attempt to make the concrete look respectable at all.  The final site design, as pointed out with the original post, is weak at best.

     
  32. Msrdls says:

    Actually, I have no particular dog in the hunt. I stopped doing civil design 12 years ago. I now do only structural work.  And for whatever reason, no one ever questions a structural design. Is it apathy? Don’t think so, because I’ve fought with architecgts for hours to save a column, or a full-depth girder.! There must be another reason!!!! And I don’t stare at fabrics and wall coverings. But I do walk on sidewalks, and I think I’m aware of potential sidewalk hazards vs potential sidewalk nuisances. Forgive me, I need to check out a lovely carpet color that I’m considering using in my next remodel!

    PS: Before a developer commits to a project, he has a good handle on his costs. And if he knows UPFRONT that he’ll need to make too many utility adjustments, he just may take his project to an adjacent city/municipality, where building authorities are more developer friendly. I’ve never been on a designed project where, in the process of building,  the owner/architect/contractor walk smack up against a pole and declare, in unison:  “Oh, my God! There’s a pole there!  Whatever are we going to do?” That’s what as-built surveys are for. And if the pole is missed, the surveyor just bought and donated a disabled [email protected]!!!

     
  33. Msrdls says:

    The problem with your last sentence is that the City has NEVER sized a joist. Ever. NEVER WILL!  Don’t!  Doesn’t!  Can’t.  Shouldn’t.  Knows better.

     
  34. GMichaud says:

     Again, the city insures the joists are properly sized, correct? In the same way they should look after projects to insure they are ADA compliant, that they actually work and function properly. (Oh and guess what, they don’t design ADA compliant aspects of a project either) (Nor do they design stairways, nor window openings, nor ceiling heights, but they are all under the review of the City).
    You’re just making things up at this point. I see why you said Yesterday I couldn’t spell “aingineer” and now I are one! I guess you weren’t kidding.

     
  35. Msrdls says:

    No, the City does NOT “insure the joists are properly sized” (necessarily and de facto). The City asks for my sealed structural calculations, and they are filed away with the permit application. They are not submitted for review or approval. They are submitted for record purposes. I doubt the City employs a structural engineer. I may be wrong, but I think they are all civil, and many in the permit review department have architectural and/or architectural-engineering backgrounds, many (some?) of whom are unfamilar with structural calculations. Still can’t spell “aingineer”~! Gee, I hope you “kan teeche me”.

     
  36. Anonymous says:

    “And for whatever reason, no one ever questions a structural design. Is it apathy? Don’t think so . . . There must be another reason!!!!”  Yeah, until something fails, nobody really cares.  It’s either right or it’s wrong, there are no grey areas, unlike aesthetic issues, where there few absolutes:  http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_19820049

     
  37. Msrdls says:

    Then it IS apathy! (Here I always thought there was another reason behind it!)

     

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