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word of the week: LOAD-BEARING WALL

2010 June 13
by Caroline Nye Stevens

LOAD-BEARING WALL: a wall of a structure that bears the weight and force resting upon it. The load-bearing quality means that the taller a load-bearing building is, the thicker its walls become. Compare this to skeletal-framed buildings which distribute the weight of construction throughout the structure, allowing for curtain walls that offer no structural support and literally hang off a building’s frame. This is like the difference between building with legos and tinkertoys: legos are load-bearing construction and tinkertoys are skeletal-frame construction. The Monadnock Building is the tallest masonry load-bearing commercial building in the world. The walls at the base are 6ft thick and at the top they are only 18 inches thick. Compare Chicago’s Monadnock Building with the Egyptian pyramids.  Both are great examples of load-bearing construction.

8 Responses
  1. Nancy Kullman permalink
    June 14, 2010

    I’m enjoying your e-mails so much. Thanks, Caroline.

  2. June 16, 2010

    Hi Caroline! It’s Katie from upstairs. I’m really impressed by your blog! I have a blog, too, though it’s not nearly as developed as yours! I love the Monadnock building. There’s a building in the Ayn Rand book “The Fountainhead” that’s called Monadnock–do you know if there’s any connection there? Do you have a favorite building in the city?

    • June 17, 2010

      Thanks for the complimentary words and for introducing me to your fun blog! My father is in the middle of reading “The Fountainhead” right now and was recommending it to me. Having not read it I can’t say for sure, but I imagine it is the same building. The Monadnock is one of Chicago’s most famous pieces of architecture known by architecture students around the world. You should go explore it, it’s pretty fantastic!

  3. Paula permalink
    June 23, 2010

    I work in the Monadnock! It really has some fabulous details inside, too.

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