Dear PoPville – Is This Beam Supposed to look like This?

1900 block of 14th St, NW just north of T St.

“Dear PoPville,

I took this photo about a week ago and just don’t see how this is normal — see how crooked the beam that connects the first floor to the ground is? Doesn’t seem like something that can be fixed after the top floors are finished and I was really hoping to take advantage of the Trader Joe’s that’s going in there.”

Can engineers out there explain the slanted beam? It’s designed to support more weight?

Closeup after the jump.


21 Comment

  • Maybe the work to create a foundation for this meant they had to build the foundation away from the neighboring building wall, hence the need to have the concrete wall angled to be on top of the foundation but then taking advantage of the extra square footage on the upper floors by going back to flush with neighbor??

  • Taylor Gourmet is a sitting duck if that building goes down

  • I think this is pretty common and must be a structural design. I noticed a similar effect in the new building at 14th and Chapin when it was in this stage of development and since see it in almost every new construction I walk past. I’m not expert, but it seems pretty standard.

  • I don’t have an answer, but this part of the email is gold: “Doesn’t seem like something that can be fixed after the top floors are finished and I was really hoping to take advantage of the Trader Joe’s that’s going in there.”

    Really? You think they botched that corner and just decided to keep building with the knowledge it’d prevent Trader Joe’s from opening?

    • i thought the OP was saying that they wouldn’t patronize the Trader Joe’s for fear of the building falling on them while at the store.

  • First….it is a column, not a beam.
    Second….sloping columns is common when the layout of something above doesn’t quite work with a layout below (such as when there is below grade parking). This column was probably sloped to avoid something adjacent to the Taylor building. It is not going to fall over.

  • This is quite common in Concrete buildings. There’s a certain angle that concrete columns (side note: it’s not a beam) can tilt to still be effective based on the amount of load imposed on the column from above. Take a trip to the parking garage under DCUSA and you will see several angled columns. My guess is that they had to stay away from the foundation of the existing building with the foundation piles supporting the new construction.

  • This is normal and nothing to be alarmed about. Basically, the new footings below grade that support the new column are spaced as close as possible to the existing building. However, as the building rises above ground and the structure transitions to a column that is smaller than what is below, there is some space to be gained by sloping the column towards the existing building. When it’s all finished you’ll never even notice!

  • Yes. If you look a the other columns in that building, you’ll see that many are at an angle.

  • It certainly looks wold lol

  • let’s see if we can logic this one out.

    you’re not an engineer. and this would be a huge fuck up if it weren’t done correctly, probably resulting in a halt to all construction until the situation was fixed. rest of the building looks square so hard to imagine this happened after adding upper floors.

    logic says… it was probably done correctly.

    • …and human nature says: human beings like to understand what’s going on, and so they ask questions. “it was probably done correctly” doesn’t satisfy that need to know.

      • Exactly. I actually am an engineer (just not the kind of engineer that knows anything about building construction) so I was excited to learn the purpose of the slanted beam.

    • “lets see if we can logic this one out.” lol. the internet would be such a dull place if people were logical / sane.

    • silver spring transit center.

  • Angled columns like this are routine in the construction of all concrete buildings. I’ve “logiced this out” and deduced that this may be because at an angle the columns are forming triangles which increase the lateral strength of the building (i.e. keep it from tipping over – not that a building like this is in imminent danger of tipping over, but to provide the type of support that would resist the types of forces that could push it in that direction). Not an engineer, but this makes logical sense to me.

  • It is designed to cause the building to collapse inwardly if it starts to collapse.

  • The new building goes 2 floors underground right up against Taylor’s. Taylors building does not have a basement so the foundation wall comes basically up flush with the edge of the foundation of Taylors building, otherwise it would undermine Taylor’s foundation (Btw this is possible to do by a process called underpinning but I’m sure it was way too expensive to do just for an addition 12” of floor space in in the underground garage). Once past the ground floor the building footprints ‘clears’ the existing foundation at Taylors. The column (referred to as ‘beam’ in this post) sits on the foundation wall and it slanted to support the floor above which is pushed right up against Taylors building. This increases the floor space an addition 1’ or 2’ along the side of the building on each floor from there up. Hopefully this didn’t put anyone to sleep but that’s the reason for the slanted column in this case.

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