Ed V. Williams School

A number of SPS projects are underway and one of them is near and dear to my heart.  I went to Williams Elementary for my kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade years.  The picture to the left is a very young Travis Miller on the playground at Williams Elementary.  I am not sure what grade I was in but this picture brings back a bunch of construction memories; maybe some of our CSI members can fill in the blanks where I cannot remember. To understand this photo, you need to understand the perspective it was taken from.  The playground for the young students was on the south side of the building nested between the school and Kearney Street.  Elizabeth Avenue T’ed into Kearney at this location and I lived one block south of Kearney at the intersection of Elizabeth Avenue and High Street. The neighborhood was full of kids.  When we [...]

Memories of Kit Carson

The newspaper and other forms of media were very clear about Kit and his stories.  His house was and is a treasure trove of history but, having worked side-by-side with him at his office I thought I would elaborate on a day in the life of Kit at work.  Of course, he was sick recently so I am speaking in terms of a few years ago. Kit was always the second person to arrive at the office in the morning (Boomer was first) and he was usually the last person to leave.  He loved his work so much that he would desperately lose track of time.  There were many times that he and I would be at the office at 6:00 pm and he would ask me to go through a project cost sheet or talk him through the project I was putting together a bid on and finally at [...]

Design Team of the Year

Design Team of the Year was awarded to the group that spent two and a half years master planning and building the first phase of a development on East Sunshine Street, now home to O’Reilly Hospitality Management LLC and Ransin Injury Law. Travis Miller of Miller Engineering PC came on as structural engineer, to assist in ensuring the building was rigid, while trying to incorporate the more aesthetic features the designers wanted. You can read the entire article published by the Springfield Business Journal.

The Importance of a Good First Impression

On the forensic engineering side of our company we have an opportunity to see what I refer to as “trends in bad design and construction”.  Our forensic engineers get asked to inspect commercial properties prior to a potential buyer purchasing a property or we are called out all of the time to identify non-load bearing walls can be removed for the new tenant, etc.  During these assessment inspections I have noticed one of the aforementioned “trends” that simply must change.  I am referring to the seemingly unimportant appendages to the project such as monument signs, landscape walls and trash enclosures.  So much of the time these elements are barely thought about until the end of the design process and usually the designer just throws something at the wall to see what sticks, with the plan that they will come back and address it later.  From what I have seen, these [...]

This Is A Stretch

A couple of months ago I wrote an article about concrete cracks in slabs and the point of the article was ‘timing” – you have to get your joints installed before the slab has made up its mind on where to crack.  When a concrete wall is cast, it goes through the exact same shrinkage process, but most of the time the shrinkage of a wall can be even more extreme. After all, a concrete wall is obviously thicker than a typical 4” concrete slab and in the case of concrete walls, it is drying out (curing) on all sides versus slabs where almost all of the drying takes place on the exposed side of the slab.  We do not score walls with a concrete saw because it would be challenging and, quite frankly, we might accidentally cut something important within the wall and nobody wants that.  Instead we either [...]

Crack Epidemic

The message this month is dealing with concrete cracks.  I know, I know, - you guys already know all about this and I am speaking to an educated audience.  It has been drilled into your heads that we need to keep excess water out of the concrete mix and we need to take measures to keep the top of the concrete slab from drying too fast from weather conditions and of course we all know that we use control joints (saw joints) to coax the concrete into cracking where we want it to.  So if we know all of this, why does this still happen: In these photos it appears that our concrete needed a little more “coaxing” since it decided to do its own thing right next to a control joint. The Cause:  Timing.  I prefer to think of concrete slabs as being [...]


It is with sadness and sympathy that I announce the passing of Beautiful Drafting.  Her exact age was not known but no doubt she impacted the lives of everyone around her and she will be missed greatly.   Below are pictures from her youth: She came from humble beginnings but started finding her stride quite early and was soon noticed by various talent scouts.  Through training her abilities grew through her teenage years. Such beauty could not stay hidden for long and it was not long before she moved from the shadows into the spotlight where she experienced a hay day of exposure.  Glam and glitz was the order of the day. In the middle of her career she entered what many called her “blue” phase and through this she was truly able to meet the masses. [...]

One Horse Towns

In my last article, I spoke about my reluctance to believe that building design and construction was the next fodder for the computer/robot industry.  That being said, in recent years I have noticed a disturbing trend in the plan review process.  Long gone are the famed “good ol days” that my dad spoke of where he could literally have lunch with the Springfield plan reviewer and get a permit after drawing out a few things on a napkin.  (2 napkins if it was a big job). With the litigious atmosphere that has been created in our industry, even the smallest ‘burg’ in the middle of rural nowhere knows that some sort of code needs to be enforced, at least in principle. These small towns struggle to keep the water running and to keep a meager police and fire station on the books so how can they ever afford a decent [...]

Don’t Pack Your Bags Just Yet

I recently attended a seminar where the main topic was the future of the construction industry and how we are all going to be replaced by computers and robots.  Admittedly, some really neat things are happening in that field such as drones building small structures in a Lego-like fashion called “flight assembly” and BIM is getting more elaborate (sort of).  At this seminar they said that the design of buildings was governed by codes and the laws of physics and since physics and codes are bound by rules then a programming language could be created for it.  They were quick to point out that your everyday DIY enthusiast can download a $40 program online and design their own house.  (If I may drift off the subject for just a moment – please encourage everyone you know to design houses this way – it is making me a fortune in forensic [...]

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