How to build a horizontal deck railing with a DIY design
The world’s tallest building, the World Trade Center, has a horizontal railing that looks like it could be the tallest building in the world, but it’s not.
Instead, the building’s designers have been building an extremely simple and elegant solution to the problem: using a single vertical beam that could easily support a full-size deck of flats, if you had the right tools and materials.
But that’s not how this story ends.
“We have a huge amount of experience with building buildings and this was not the first time,” says David Teller, the architect who designed the tower, in an interview with New Scientist.
“The tower is a world-class structural system, it has a lot of support, it’s designed to be an ideal building.
And we did this for a very simple reason: it’s elegant.”
In the video above, the architects show off the basic elements of their deck railing: a single horizontal beam that extends down from the top of the building, through a series of circular supports, and then up through the base of the tower to create a floor-to-ceiling railing that extends over the top.
The building was constructed in the late 1980s with an initial $40 million budget.
After the building was finished, Teller and his team spent the next 20 years building a series, including the final one in 2002.
“There are so many amazing ideas out there and so many people who have done really great work with these ideas, and I thought that was an amazing opportunity to show the world what we were capable of,” he says.
“That was the moment we started to see the design community respond.”
The story is an inspiring one.
The first building of its kind was designed to withstand a hurricane and earthquake, and it has survived multiple major collapses and a series a fire that occurred on the ground floor.
But there’s a catch.
The deck railing is designed for a certain height, and the only way to make it taller is to make the deck taller.
And even though the deck is designed to fit the entire building, Telling says, the design is flexible.
Teller says he didn’t have much choice.
“We could do it and we would have done it a lot quicker,” he tells New Scientist, “because we were able to build the structure and build the design that would be required for the structural stability and the structural strength.”
And if you were to take a look at the plans, the railing is actually only designed to extend up to about 10 stories above ground level, so it’s only really going to make sense to build it on the roof.
“So you can imagine the roof is just like a ladder going up the tower,” he explains.
Building a deck railing was not an easy task.
The original design for the building used the same building blocks as the rest of the structure.
It was built on the original steel foundation of the WTC, which was originally built on top of a steel skeleton and then a concrete core.
The concrete core was originally poured at the bottom of a pit and then sealed in with steel to protect it from the elements.
“But there was this problem, because the steel skeleton was so thin and the concrete core didn’t get as hot as the steel, the concrete skeleton was going to be less stable,” Teller says.
So the designers used a different way to create the deck.
Instead of building the deck using steel, they poured a layer of concrete on top.
Teller tells New Monitor that the concrete is still a material of interest, because it’s resistant to corrosion, but the concrete itself is not.
Telling was the first to realize that the structural design for a decking is not static.
“You don’t know if it’s going to fall down, but you can actually build it up again,” he recalls.
“And it’s also very easy to rebuild the deck when the structure is unstable.”
Telling says that the engineers did a lot research to get a good idea of how the deck would perform when it was unstable.
“If you take the foundation, you don’t want it to fall, because you need to have it up,” he said.
“It has to be able to withstand the force that’s coming from below and above, and that’s because the deck’s structure has a very long support chain.” “
What we discovered is that the deck doesn’t just have to be stable, it also needs to be strong,” Telling explains.
“It has to be able to withstand the force that’s coming from below and above, and that’s because the deck’s structure has a very long support chain.”
When it comes to the deck itself, Tellers team built a system to support the structure with a single steel beam.
This structure is also known as a beam stringer, and this is the system that actually holds the deck up.
Telled explains that the structure has two beams, one that is vertical, and one that extends horizontally from the building.