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a truthful knowledge of the existing physical conditions. * * * Xhe condi-
tion of maps, surveys and records of existing physical conditions in most
-American cities and towns, so far as my observation has gone, is almost incred-
ibly bad. Where the problem is as large and complex as a whole city : where,
on account of the values of land and buildings, a difference of a few inches in
location may involve huge sums of money, where comparatively slight differ-
ences in level may completely alter the whole ])lan of a sewer system or bring

The Architect and Eiii^iiieer 77

transportation lines into fatal conflict, where it is necessary to provide sooner
or later tor such an enormous complex of jiuhlic utilities in close juxtaposition,
the value of the right kind of map is incalculable.

New York, Baltimore, Washington, and some other American cities have
awakened to the importance of modern active, comprehensive topographical
maps as a basis for the intelligent and economical planning of public improve-
ments, and have provided themselves therewith, at least as to their outer zone :
but generally the official surveys consist of incomplete and casual records of
streets, properties and public works, gradually accumulated through a long
series of years. These records consist for the most part of independent piece-
meal surveys of all degrees of accuracy and inaccuracy, made for all sorts of
special purposes, and of compilations and transcripts of these piecemeal records
patched together in attempts to reconcile irreconcilable data.

But it is not to be assumed because complete and accurate record maps are
a necessary basis for a complete and accurate city ])lant that all work of
planning should wait until the former is comjilete. In fact, if the city is a live
city the topographical map is never comjilete. any more than the city plan is
ever complete and final. The topographical map should be an up-to-date
record of existing physical conditions in the city not at one period of its
history alone, but always. Like the plans based thereon it is not to be regarded
as a picture, but as a kit of working tools, part of it in daily and the rest
kept in good order, ready for instant use when needed.

To take a single aspect of the work, for example, these records ought to
show the exact location of every underground i)ipe, sewer or conduit in the
streets of the citv. corrected up to date. .\s it is, in the general absence of such
records, new structures are laid out more or less blindly and involve a huge
amount of needless expense in the alteration of older structures encountered
in the digging. This is but one illustration, but it makes clear that mapping,
like planning, must be a continuous function, and that while the mapping must
to some degree precede the planning, they should both advance continually
toward a greater degree of accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The same scientific handling and interiiretation of statistics which is now
common in designing water supply, gas and electric service and the like is
seldom used in planning streets, parks, schools and playgrounds or the building
accommodations required by the various municipal services, and yet that it is
clear that this ought to be done, and that some central authority should be
provided to see that the plans which are prepared should co-ordinate and
harmonize, and should periodically be revised and brought u]) to date.

Plastered Exteriors

Plastered exteriors for the better class of residences, and in fact for
every kind of building, have become popular because there is at last an
opportunity to express individuality of taste in decoration without enorm-
ously increasing the cost, as has been the record of the past. .As a matter
of fact, the modern development of plaster for exterior purposes introduces
an economy instead of costing more. .\rt and personal selection in matters
of taste have never been at the command of the builder until recently, and
it is appreciated. Plastered exteriors will continue to grow more and
more popular, and the ambitious designer who qualifies to do things that
are worthy in this particular line is already on the high road to success.

78 The Architect and Engineer

The Necessity for Waterproofing*


THE opinion that concrete buildings are damp has taken too great a hold
on the pubHc mind ; and an opinion once so rooted is difficult to eradicate.
If there is one thing that has hurt the concrete industry more than any-
thing else it is this impression in the mind of the public which, unfortunately,
is only too largely justified by experience.

What does it avail us to assert that concrete can be made watertight if
properly handled, when we know that perhaps fifty waterproofing concerns all
over the country are engaged all the time in remedying dampness and leakage
in concrete structures which, theoretically, should have been made waterproof
but which, practically, have been found not so?

The expense incurred in order to attain waterproofing after the construc-
tion has been finished is a hundred times greater than what it would have been
in the first place ; and this is nearly always so in waterproofing ; we may almost
call it an axiom of the industry.

Those gentlemen who argue that waterproofing is not necessary usually
base their conclusion on their own experience, using the most careful methods,
with strict supervision of every detail of the proportioning, mixing and laying
of the concrete ; and the results obtained under such conditions are model and
are the best obtainable both as to density and impermeability. But for every
one such perfect job, one hundred others turn out anything but model, and to
maintain that waterproofing is not necessary because one job in a hundred may
turn out right, is certainly not a justifiable position for the concrete men to

And yet we are told that waterproofing is not necessary and even our
highly technical societies have spread the belief that no direct remedy is
obtained by employing waterproofing compounds. While admitting that it is
possible to secure waterproof concrete by proper proportioning and handling
of the material, the large number of leaky structures throughout the country
makes waterproofing advisable as a matter of precaution and insurance, par-
ticularly in structures below ground water or tidewater level.

Frame structures will be just as fireproof as concrete if there be no fire ;
and yet while we know that concrete is fireproof, we still do not hesitate to
insure against fire. Why, therefore, should we quibble, gamble with the
future, and hesitate to insure our buildings against damage by water, when
we know from experience that an untreated watertight structure, while theo-
retically possible, is as much the exception as the rule?

I wish to call special attention to the question of waterproofing sewers.
This question has received hardly any consideration at all from sewer engi-
neers, although it is one of great importance.

Dr. George M. Price, sanitary inspector for many years of the New York
Tenement House Department, stated that the soil of our city was like a grave
yard from the leakage of refuse through sewer lining, and at the same time
he pointed out that unsanitary conditions due to leaky buildings, were found in
20 per cent of the New York tenements.

Mr. George T. Hammond, designing engineer of the sewer department of
Brooklyn, New York, has collected some valuable facts on the infiltration of
ground water into sewers and has said that municipalities are wasting princely
sums in pumping and treating such ground water at purification and di.sposal
plants. The following are his figures on the leakage of ground water into
sewers in various cities:

•Extracts from an address delivered before the National Association of Cement Users.

The Arcliilcct and Engineer 79

New Orleans. La., 1.250 gallons per square mile.

Columbus, Ohio, 100 to v300 per cent of dry weather flow.

Kalamazoo, Mich,. 20 per cent of capacity.

Norfolk, Va., 60 per cent of ])umping.

Canton, Ohio, 70,000 gallons per mile.

Brockton, Mass., 2,500 gallons per mile.

East Orange, N. J., 110 per cent of dry weather flow.

They show conclusively the possibility of lower maintenance costs if the
sewers were properly waterproofed.

It is also generally agreed that watertight concrete is the only solution of
prevention of disintegration of concrete by sewage, sewer gases, alkali and
other corrosive chemicals.

I am not going to take up any special material or method. There are
many virtues to the successful methods of waterproofing on the market, and
there are no cure-alls. Do not take any man's word who tells you that his
material will waterproof any conditions. The whole secret of successful water-
proofing lies in selecting the method and material suitable for the conditions
at hand. Many of the standard materials will give good results if intelligently

There are many cases where neither the "integral" method nor the
"membrane" method will meet the conditions. Take, for instance, the preser-
vation of beautiful stone monuments or decorative stone in process of decay,
the disfigurement of buildings by efflorescence — which I must say is an eye-sore
in many of our big cities.

These observations may be continued indefinitely and sufficient evidence
can be produced to convince the most skeptical that waterproofing of structures
is a precaution which should always be provided for in any concrete structure
intended for habitation and where leakage is in any way objectionable.

There are so many conditions to be considered that I can not agree with
the statement by the committee of this society and that of the Society for
Testing Materials, that waterproofing materials have been found of doubtful
value. Many cases have not been covered by the committee work, and broad
statements of condemnation are misleading. Buildings which have been
erected five or ten years or longer time, are often found leaky and damp.
These must be made tight and waterproofing materials must be employed for
the purpose ; and when a broad statement is made that all such materials arc
of doubtful value the consumer is induced to believe that his difficulties can not
be remedied, and that is certainly not so.

A great many tests have been made during the last few years on various
waterproofing materials. It is of a great importance to know the results of
these tests, but in addition to the results we must also get in touch with the
consumer, and obtain information from the school of practical experience as
well, before we can pass a final judgment as to the adequacy or inadequacy of
such material.

There are many thousands of dollars invested in this industry, and 1 think
that we should be careful in making claims that materials are of no value
unless we can substantiate such claims from facts, taken from the consumer
and from jobs actually executed, and not base such statements on mere labor-
atory tests.

We should not complain if surface materials do not last longer than four
or five years. If we can get a life of five years out of any material exposed
to the elements, we are doing well, and it is unreasonable to ask for any greater
permanency. The unit cost per annum is so small compared with other forms
of insurance and protection that we are justified in spending money for water-

80 The Architect and Engineer

l)roofing insurance as much as we are in spending it for insurance against fire
or contingencies of other kinds.

I trust that a satisfactory explanation of the marked difference will soon
be found. If waterproofing materials are of doubtful value and have but a
short life, what are we going to do with the structures which prove damp
and leaky? How shall we remedy such conditions when we find them? I
firmly believe that the committee's conclusions are not justified in a broad
sense. I believe that where such reports are made, the limitations should be
positively and clearly pointed out.

Much good work has been done by the waterproofing concerns and I do
not think that we are justified in condemning the industry to the extent that
it has been condemned, because I do not think we have enough information
from the user of concrete.

I wish to say that I have endeavored to obtain from the cement user as
much information on that particular point as I possibly could. I do not care
to go into the names of compounds ; it would look like advertising trade
products, and I have no direct or indirect interest in them. I know, however,
that materials of the water repellant nature have given satisfaction up for three
or four years. Materials of a parafiine nature have done so for a great deal
longer than that. Any one interested in such work can have a half a dozen
firms take contracts guaranteed under bond to produce a watertight structure
by the use of materials of this kind. If a firm is willing to give a bond with
a guarantee that the work will be tight for a reasonable number of years, and
if there are half a dozen or more such firms who are willing to do likewise,
we can rest assured of results, particularly as they are willing to back their
work with their money.

I also think the constant increase in the consumption of waterproofing
materials throughout the country is a very evident indication that the cement
user is finding them of some actual, potent value. It could not be possible
that the consumption of all kinds of waterproofing materials would be increas-
ing if a majority of consumers were finding them of very doubtful value.

American Architecture

AT present there is no department of architecture in which creati\e talent
is without motive to achieve distinction. American architecture, in so
far as it is at all independent, is, indeed, of a single generation. Yet it
occupies a leading position in contemporary art. Though essentially eclectic it
has followed wholesome traditions, and the nature of the local problems which it
has had to solve has impelled it to develop an individuality of its own. In some
respects, as in the planning of tall buildings, it is quite original.

American architecture, says Professor Adshead, of Liverpool University,
will ever be regarded as epoch making in the progressive stages of the archi-
tecture of the world. Its chief defect is that it has been wanting in unity of
composition. For that, however, owners rather than architects are responsible.
The remedy is to be sought in a more generous spirit of co-operation among
property holders, and such co-operation is already manifest in our newer trade
centers, as, for example, in certain stretches of Fourth and Fifth avenues. It
is still more apparent in the outskirts of the town, where entire suburbs are
built up by single corporations. — New York Sun.

The Architect and Engineer


Southern Pacific Company's Pc
D. J. Paltc

House. Fruilrale
. ArchitccI

Railroad Builds 40,000 Horsepower Station at Alameda

Till'] Southern Pacitics new electric power station at Fruitvale was thrown
open to inspection to a large number of invited guests in May, the
majority of those present being members of the San Francisco section of
tlie American Institute of Electrical Engineers. In addition, there were
present officials of the various power companies in and around the city.

The affair Ijegan with a dinner, after which the plant was inspected, and
before the critical eyes of the experts the wheels went round and the entire
working mechanism of one of the biggest power j^lants in the I'nited States
was put in motion.

The power, housed in a building constructed of steel and red sand lime
brick, stands by the side of the tidal canal at the foot of hVuitvale avenue
in .Alameda. Inside there is machinery capable of developing 40.000 horse-
power of electricity — sufficient to o|)crate all of the electric trains that the
Southern Pacific purposes running, not only out of .Alameda and Oakland,
but toward Point Richmond, and eventually down the bay to the peninsula

Every particle of the work represented by the power-house and its
installed machinery was done in the department presided over by II. A.
Babcock, and everything was completed before scliedule time. The building
was designed by .Architect D. J. Patterson ; the steel frame work was under
the direction of J. C. Lathrop : W. C. Miller designed the mechanical installa-
tion, and H. Y. Hall had supervision of the electric switchboard and the

82 The Architect and Engineer

Fire Escapes

THE recent fire holocaust in New York demonstrates that all of the effort
of the material producers and of engineering talent of the country to
secure the construction of fireproof buildings has not been in vain.

However, the matter of fire escapes as attached to incombustible buildings
is an additional lesson that had to be learned, and it becomes clear that even on
buildings which are themselves incombustible the fire escape remains as a
necessity when the contents of the buildings are largely of an inflammable

The fire escape as attached to the exterior of a building is the most
unsightly fixture that can be erected, and for that reason alone, perhaps, in the
case of incombustible buildings, there is a tendency to do away with it. But it
has been proven a necessity and it is up to the designer of buildings to find
some way of supplying the fire escape without having an unsightly appearance
in the result.

Unquestionably the best fire escape ever produced was invented in Louis-
ville, Ky., a number of years ago, and installed at a number of public schools
with complete success. It consists of a steel tube with a spiral inclined plane
inside with doors opening at each of the floors of the building. The arrange-
ment of the interior of the spiral is such that an unlimited amount of humanity
can simply be poured into the tube with the result that the people will all drop
to the bottom outside of the danger zone.

These, however, could only be installed, according to the present stage of
development, in places where there is room enough to place the tube outside of
the building.

The capacity of such a fire escape is practically unlimited. The writer
saw a fire escape of this kind tested at a school building, where 800 children
were all put through the tube in just two minutes flat. Every one of them
thought it was great sport and wanted to test the tube over again.

Such a fire escape could be placed in an enclosed bay with the discharging
end of the tube opening into an alleyway, or area, or some such arrangement,
and provide for the entrances to the various floors by careful inspection of the
building so that inflammable material would not surround the entrance to the
tube. In this way the fire escape tube would always be available to the inmates
of the building, and it is probable that the fire escape trouble would be prac-
tically solved.

The old-fashioned fire escapes, consisting of an iron rack in front of each
story of the building with a vertical ladder extending to the ground, is a verv
dangerous proposition in itself. Few people are able to use the vertical ladder
even when there is no danger or panic in sight. With all the excitement
attendant at a fire it is certain that more than three-quarters of the occupants
of the building would be unable to use the vertical fire escape. Such is the
constitution of human nature and there is no way to get around it. The rack
ladder fire escape is a very insecure proposition and has never proved very
successful in practice. In nearly every case where they have been called upon
to discharge a large number of inmates from a building the fastenings have
pulled out of the wall when the ladders were overloaded, and the fire escape
itself becomes almost as dangerous as the fire.

In the case of the printing office fire in Cincinnati, a number of vears ago,
there was more panic than fire and a number of the occupants of the building
were injured by the collapse of the fire escape, all of whom would have been
saved had they remained at their desks in the building.

The Architect and E}ii;iiu\'r 83

The first cost of the rack and ladder type of fire escape is by no means the
end of the transaction. It nuist be properly maintained, inspected and exam-
ined or it is certain to fail when called upon for service. In these days, when
factories and offices are filled with women, the vertical ladder is less efficient
than it would be otherwise for the long skirts, and the women invariably
becoine entangled in the treads of the ladder, and the efficiency of this type of
fire escape is very low indeed.

The recent New York incident puts it up to the designers of buildings to
study the fire escape as a ])r()l)lem and to work out a satisfactory solution.

Hollow Concrete Fence Posts

A series of experiments in the construction of hollow concrete fence posts,
conducted by Prof. C. A. Ocock, of the department of agricultural engineering
of the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture, has proven the many
advantages of that type of post over the solid post. The economy of construc-
tion and the durability of the home-made concrete fence post have been
sufficiently demonstrated to the farmer, so that there is a constant demand
upon the agricultural engineering department of the university for detailed
information as to the construction of such posts. For three years Professor
Ocock has made and used on the college farm hollow posts, which he has
found fully as strong as the solid reinforced posts, much lighter to handle,
and materially cheajier in construction. They are constructed with little addi-
tional labor, and with a saving of four pounds of cement to each post.

The mixture used is the ordinary 1 :2 :4, which includes one part cement,
two parts sand, and four parts stone, none of which is larger than will pass
through a •)4-inch screen. The forms used are the ordinary ones, 4 inches
wide, 4 inches deep, and 7 feet long. For reinforcement a 34"''ich round steel
rod is placed in each corner, the distance of its own diameter from the outside of
the post. F.ach end of this rod is bent at right angles for about 2 inches, to
anchor it firmly.

In making the hollow posts, a 2-inch core composed of four pieces of
wood is necessary. A central piece of wood 1 inch square is surrounded by
four fiat pieces rounded on the outer side, forming the round core. When the
post is finished the central square piece is withdrawn, allowing the four other
pieces to be removed. When the core is used, the mold must have end gates
with 2-inch holes for the removal of the core.

For attaching the fencing to the post, the longest galvanized staples should
be put in at suitable distances on one side while the concrete is soft, after the
points of the staples have been spread to .secure them firmly in the concrete.
To fasten the fence to these staples, short pieces of No. 12 or 14 wire may be

The hollow reinforced concrete post, although requiring a little additional
labor, saves enough concrete to offset this extra work, and at the same time is
lighter to handle, and practically as strong as a solid post.

A Hero

Kicker — My great-grandfather carried that drum all through the Revo-

Snicker — And whenever he sighted the enemy he beat it, I suppose. —
Brooklvn Life.


The Architect and Engineer


Front Elc-atioH for an Afarlment Hotel, San Francisco
George Sireshley & Co., Architects

The Architect and Engineer 85

Fireproof Construction

Value of a Non-inflammable Building from the Investment View-Point
With Particular Reference to New York City

By ERNEST FLAGG, Architect, New York.

A PRACTICAL demonstration is now being made that it is possible to
build fireproof apartments which will yield a better return on the invest-
ment than those of the ordinary inflammable type. After a great deal
of ex[)erience in planning both kinds I became convinced that the economies in
space which the fireproof method of construction permits of more than olTset
its greater cost. To test the correctness of this theory on a plot of land 100 feet
square a building was erected. Although this building is not yet ready for
occupancy all contracts for its completion have been let, its exact cost is known
and the correctness of my estimates has been verified. If this is true it would
seem that there is no longer any reason why the building of inflammable
tenements should not be prohibited, for .such a regulation would inflict no

Online LibraryHarpeth Hall School (1951 - )The Architect & engineer of California and the Pacific Coast (Volume v.25 (May-July 1911)) → online text (page 20 of 40)