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Antiquated Structural Systems - Part 1

D. Matthew Stuart, P.E., S.E., F.ASCE, SECB

Course Outline

This six hour course includes the following information:

1. Introduction:

a. Definition of antiquated structural systems.
b. Reasons for the need to understand in situ antiquated structural systems.
c. Methods of investigation.
d. Reasons for the lack of historical information.
e. Outdated local code live load requirements.
f. Options for solutions to retrofitting existing buildings.

2. Antiquated Structural Systems:

a. S.M.I. reinforced concrete slab system.
b. Clay tile arched floors.
c. One and two-way tile and unit masonry joists systems.
d. Prefabricated clay tile and concrete block framing systems.
e. Precast concrete.

The course content was first published in STRUCTURE® magazine as five separate articles between 2007 and 2008;

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for structural engineers and architects.

Benefit to Attendees

The attendee of this course will be able to have a better understanding of the many different types of older structural systems that are still encountered in urban areas.

Course Introduction

Engineers involved with renovation and rehabilitation projects need to be aware of the specifics of antiquated structural systems in order to develop non-destructive and unobtrusive solutions. Information concerning antiquated structural systems provided by this course has been compiled and made available because the history of older structural systems is far less documented than the history of architecture. Part 1 of this course will provide the user with an understanding of at least 5 of the over 10 different antiquated structural systems that one can typically encounter in urban areas of the U.S.

Course Content

In this lesson, you are required to study the following course content in PDF format:

Antiquated Structural Systems - Part 1

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you still experience any difficulty in downloading or opening this file, you may need to close some applications or reboot your computer to free up some memory.

If you have trouble reading any of the material on line, it is recommended that the course material be printed out for better resolution.

Course Summary

The designs of all of the antiquated structural systems presented in this course were originally based on the basic engineering theories and construction experience of their respective era.  Load tables were also commonly developed and published by most of the manufacturers.  The problem with all of these systems, when one encounters them in an existing building, is that in the absence of existing drawings it is difficult to determine the internal reinforcement and, subsequently, the load carrying capacity of the system.  However, it is hoped that this course, by identifying the many different types of products that were in use at one time or another, will assist the users in their research of an antiquated or archaic system when it is encountered in an existing structure.


Concrete Plain and Reinforced Volume 1, 4th Edition
Taylor, Thompson and Smulski
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1925

A Test of the S-M-I System of Flat-Slab Construction
Edward Smulski
ACI Journal Proceeding, 1918

Principals of Reinforced Concrete Construction, 3rd Edition
Turneaure and Maurer
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1919

Evaluation of Reinforcing Steel Systems in Old Reinforced Concrete Structures, 1st Edition
CRSI, 1981

Manual of Structural Design, 3rd Edition
Jack Singleton
H.M. Ives & Son’s, 1947

“Analysis and Testing of Archaic Floor Construction”
John P. Stecich
Standards for Preservation and Rehabilitation
ASTM STP 1258, 1996
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1925

Principals of Tile Engineering
Handbook of Design
Harry C. Plummer and Edwin F. Wanner
Structural Clay Products Institute, 1947
ACI Journal Proceeding, 1918

Architects’ and Builders’ Handbook, 18th Edition
Frank E. Kidder
Harry Parker
John Wiley and Sons, 1956

Prestressed Concrete Innovations in Tennessee
PCI Journal January-February 1979
Ross H. Bryan

Dox Plank for High Speed Floor and Roof Construction
Design Tables
NABCO Plank Company
Publication Date - Unknown
Made available by the NCMA - Accession No. TF02657

Specification and Load Table Archives
Nitterhouse Concrete Products, Inc.
Chambersburg, PA

Historical Building Construction
Donald Friedman
W. W. Norton & Company, 1995

Author’s Commentary on the Cited References

For all of the articles that have been either published to date or will be in the future for the Antiquated Structural Systems Series, I have obtained the information presented by researching material that was already published by individuals or previously disseminated by manufacturers or industry organizations. In all cases, I have contacted the source of the information (when they were either alive or available) and requested permission to reprint figures, charts, or other similar images. This approach has enabled me to fulfill the primary purpose of the series, which is to compile and disseminate a resource of information to enable the sharing of knowledge concerning existing structural systems within the structural engineering community.

Related Links

For additional technical information related to this subject, please visit the following website:


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.