You can take the intern away from the exam, but you can’t take the exam away from the intern.

Over the long weekend, Nate and I avoided the crappier-than-normal Memorial Day weather by seeing The Avengers.  While I’m by no means a Marvel aficionado, I do know that anything Joss Wheadon touches is bound to be awesome.  As many have said before, the film did not disappoint, and it got me thinking about a few things, too.  I wonder what big name architect would have had the  honor of designing Stark Tower? (My money is on SOM…who else could pull of super high-tech meets mid-century modern swank?)  And also, holy crap they damaged a hell of a lot of Manhattan in less than 3 hours.

Wonder how complex your structural system needs to be to resist the force of the hammer of Thor?

Turns out I wasn’t the only one thinking about the latter.  The Hollywood Reporter put out an article on just how severe the damage would have been had the events actually occurred.  Something to the tune of 160 BILLION dollars.  That’s the cost of 9/11, Katrina, and the latest tsunami in Japan combined…and then some.  While we can feel fortunate that a disaster of such magnitude has never happened, the story serves as a reminder of the amount of analysis that must be done to return the built environment to its previous state.   From the article:

“The extensive damage to Grand Central Terminal could prove highly disruptive, depending on the subsurface damage to the subway system,” KAC notes. “Although such damage is unlikely, as the 9/11 events showed, collapsing buildings can cause significant damage to subsurface infrastructure such as gas, communications and electrical systems. Detailed site surveys will be required to assess the state of the subterranean infrastructure.” [1]

As an intern studying for the Structures exam, I sat there wide eyed as complexes imploded and buildings were torn apart.  I caught myself wondering things like “What kind of redundancy does structure like that have?!” and “How can that tower still support a load after the Hulk smashed in one end and out the other?!”

Not that I said any of this out loud… it was more like “oh ho ho daaaaaamn!”

I suppose this means that the concepts I’ve been studying are starting to stick.  If I can apply them to blockbusters, then I should be able to apply them to exam questions next weekend.  And who knows, perhaps all this  NCARB training will lead to a highly covert career at SHIELD in their R+D department.

[1]  Bet you never thought you’d read about structural analysis in a Hollywood entertainment mag.

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