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 elements are either not addressed later or if they are, the proper thought is not applied to them by anyone in the design and construction team.  I parked my truck and rode my bike down a couple streets of commercial office buildings and took these photos:

In these photos you can see that no thought has been given to moisture concerns or longevity.  If we are designing buildings to last 20 to 50 years should we not design these elements to last the same amount of time?  Remember also that in many cases the walls and monuments are the first thing that is seen at your beautiful project.  Is this the first impression you would want to make about your design or construction work?  In my next article, I will show a couple of very minor changes the designer and contractor can make to these elements that will make them last longer than the building.

By Travis Miller