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    Open-Web Steel Joists

    by D. Matthew Stuart

    Focusing on structural engineering issues involved in the repair, restoration, or adaptive reuse of older buildings for which drawings no longer exist, this article is the eighth in a series about antiquated structural systems that can be adapted or reanalyzed for safe reuse. — Editor

    Most of the systems that have been discussed in this series are no longer in use because they have been replaced by more innovative or more economical methods of construction.

    This article deals with a method of construction that is still very much in use today: open-web steel joists. Nevertheless, the historic, original construction practices may still be encountered in existing structures.

    I would like to thank the Steel Joist Institute (SJI) for providing much of the material that was used in the development of this article.


    According to a brief history of open-web joists published by the SJI, the first Warren-type, open-web truss/ joist was manufactured in 1923, using continuous round bars for the top and bottom chords, with a continuous bent round bar used for the web members.

    Five years later, in 1928, the SJI was formed, and it adopted the first standard specifications for open-web joists. This initial type of open-web steel joist later became identified as the SJ-Series. In 1929, the first SJI load table was published.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article is adapted from the June 2009 and November 2009 issues of STRUCTURE magazine, with permission of the publisher, the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations (NCSEA).



    ArchWeek Image

    The Eames House in Pacific Palisades, California, designed by Charles Eames, was built with a selection of manufactured steel structural elements, including open-web steel joists, which provide the primary roof structure.
    Photo: Tim Street-Porter, Elizabeth Whiting & Associates, London

    ArchWeek Image

    The lightweight open-web steel joists of the Eames House feature webbing made from a continuous bent steel rod.
    Photo: Flickr user "lotsinspace" Extra Large Image


    Click on thumbnail images
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