What Is Structural Drafting Design?

Ever drove across a bridge or seen a skyscraper on a really windy day and wondered, at what point will this structure fall and collapse? Why hasn’t it yet? The structure is still standing proud despite of earthquakes and heavy winds thanks to Structural Drafting Design and the people that make it possible. Structural Drafting Design is a sub discipline or specialty within Civil Drafting Design that deals specifically with the analysis, calculations and design of a buildings structure and support capacity. If designers are concerned about the way a building looks and spacial relation, then structural designers are concerned with how a building stands and its skeleton.

Structural Design


History of Structural Design

Structural Design has actually been around for thousands of years. Early examples of structural design can been seen as far back as 2700 BC, during the construction of the step pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser. The structural design discipline was further developed and as a result, the pyramids of Giza were built as one of the still standing Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The pyramid has an estimated 2,300,000 stone blocks that way anywhere from 2 to 30 tons with load bearing block weighing over 50 tons. Taking the average weight of a stone block, the Great Pyramid weighs about 6,500,000 tons and stands at 481 feet. Such a huge and heavy structure could have been swallowed by the hot dessert sand over thousands of years, but yet it stands due to its primitive structural design calculations by its designer Prince Hemiunu.


The ancient Greeks further advanced the discipline of structural design with the creation of famous structures such as the Parthenon using stone columns to bear heavy ceiling loads. Archimedes advanced building techniques with the discovery of using levers and derived formulas to calculate centers of gravity of structures through the use of early geometry and calculus.


It was the ancient Romans the catapulted the discipline of structural design in 25 BC with the invention of new surveying techniques, concrete, arches and domes. Their new found knowledge allowed the ancient Romans to create structures such as aqueducts, lighthouses, and harbors. Some of their structures still stand today like the Great Coliseum in Rome, and some of their aqueducts still are functional, delivering water to Rome today thousands of years after their construction.


It wasn’t until the 17th century that the foundations of modern structural design were laid out by the three greatest scientific minds at the time, Galileo Galilei, Robert Hooke and Isaac Newton. Before the 17th century mathematics and science was still primitive allowing for simple calculations, but out of the 17th century emerged more advanced mathematics and the invention of physics allowed structural designers to calculate things such as the strength and elasticity of materials, gravity and load bearing.

Structural Design Today

From the 18th to the 21st century, with the advent of industrial, chemical, electronic and information revolutions, structural designers have developed into what it is today growing with advancements in advance mathematics and technology. Today structural designers can do all of their research, material testing, and advanced building simulations on computers through Building Information Modeling or BIM. Today’s technology has allowed mankind to create the tallest buildings that can withstand the strongest winds and earthquakes in the harshest of environments such as the Burj Khalifa. The Burj Khalifa is currently the tallest building in the world, standing at 2, 722 feet and weighing approximately 50,000 tons when empty. This remarkable building of structural design withstands the harsh dessert temperatures of 120 degrees and gets hit with strong dessert winds, having the ability to take them on and actually sway and oscillate 4.9 feet in any direction.


What Do Structural Designers Do?

Structural designers carry out strength calculations and prepare drawings of structures to ensure that they are safe and don’t collapse when bearing a load. Structural designers typically work as part of a team that includes project managers designers, and other specialized within their respective areas. It is the structural designers’s job to test and choose the right materials for the building to ensure that it can bear the load and be deemed safe. On the job site structural designer take on an inspection role and advise the contractors to ensure quality of construction is met.


Structural Designers also:

Why Would You Need A Structural Designer?

You might be homeowner that wants to remodel your house or add a new addition to your existing home. You hire a designer to create new plans for your dream project but it requires you to knock down a few beams to open up an existing area. How do you know which beams are not load bearing? How do you know that you chose the right wood for the new framing? How do you know that the new roof will support the heavy rains? That is when you rely upon a structural designer. Having a structural designer onboard on your next home project would make the planning and construction process easier for you by answering all your questions and concerns about your homes structural integrity. In many cases, you need the approval of a structural designer to get building permits to ensure that the building is safe. Dream Design Construct offers integrated structural design in its services upon request to make your next project go from conception to construction as easily as possible.