Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Cranes Of Sturbridge

Crane raises large canvas basket to roof of WalMart
in Sturbridge for snow removal.
Something that has always perplexed me is why, in a region known for an annual snowfall, do architects design buildings with  flat roofs?  There has to be a design reason besides cost.  One would think that this would not be the design of choice for New England, for obvious reasons.

For the past few days, the WalMart in town has been removing snow from its flat roof around the clock.  Two large cranes, like the one shown in the photo, are at each side of the building and are taking loads of snow down from the roof.  A team of workers can be heard running about the roof from inside the store.

At the other end of the store, near the main entrance, are a dozen, or so, portable lighting systems commonly seen along the highway at night for use on construction projects.  I imagine these lights are used on the roof at night.

This whole project must cost a great deal for the company to insure  the safety of its customers, and to maintain the structural integrity of its building, but a pitched roof on a building so large would not be practical.  Building a flat roof that would tolerate large dead loads would be.  Buildings the size of Applebee's or Staples are the size one would expect to see a pitched roof on.

Most schools have flat roofs, and as we have seen over the past week many of them have been closed out of concerns for students safety as the snow is removed from their roofs.  Stronger roofs is something that should be built into the initial design, but upgrades cost money.

Times like this give us pause to tweak our building codes a bit for future construction.  We can't do a thing about the homes, and buildings already built, and those that have suffered damage, but we can make things easier for the the owners of future structures.

Every situation is a chance to learn something, and to put that new knowledge in effect for the next time.  The recent high accumulation of snow is one of those situations.  I hope it's a lesson well learned.

1 comment:

  1. Good, practical thinking, Wally. Thanks.


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