When 5.8 earthquake hit the DC Area in August of 2011 the icon of Washington had to close due to structural damage. After over a year of repairs the Washington Monument is finally open again for people to tour and view the city from an interesting vantage point.
This 80-second time-lapse from EarthCam is pretty amazing. It’s interesting to see the color difference near the bottom of the monument appears more pronounced now than before.
While working on one of several projects today I found myself pouring through a set of specifications that was nothing short of mind boggling. These were specifications used to construct buildings and they covered everything from light fixtures to door knobs to acoustic tiles (and data distribution).
This got me thinking about where we would be without this kind of structure. When you have several industries and trades all working together to design and build a finished product everyone must be on the same page. You can’t connect glass to wood or steel, run electrical cable anywhere you want, or put a stairway randomly within a structure. All of this takes coordination and guidance. That guidance almost always comes from specifications (and experience no know what can, and should not, be done). My job in this particular project is a lot easier than others. Some people have to worry about Life Safety and others have to make the structure visually appealing. I just have to get all the bits and bytes flowing throughout the building in the most efficient, and cost-effective, way possible.
I could just wing it and use the tried and true ‘path of least resistance’ but experience tells me this is not the best solution. I have to navigate my connections around huge open spaces, stay away from electrical interference and, most of all, keep everything out of sight. All connections must end up in a central area but still reach the farthest corners of the structure. After all, just about, everything is “connected” these days.
In addition to the “hard-wired” cabling I need to account for wireless connectivity throughout the environment. Radio waves have a tendency to act like they’re not supposed to. In theory everything is line of sight and spreads out in a spherical pattern. In reality signals will bounce off the strangest objects and end up providing less than desirable results.
This is the kind of project I can really sink my teeth into. It has all the elements I enjoy and many challenges to go along with them. As I pour through the paperwork that I’ll eventually need to manipulate into a document instructing others how to create my vision, I can’t help but think about how this can even be accomplished without the structure and limitations that a good set of “specs” can provide.
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