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Building construction has progressed a long way from the days of the crude dwellings of our ancestors. Methods of analyses of structures and stress determinations in building members have been developed to replace the building “art” that once governed. Testing equipment has fostered research, testing procedures, and specifications for building materials. Building constructions are being tested according to specified procedures, although there is great need for means to establish allowable loads from test data.
Houses are not being designed to take full advantage of our present knowledge, and materials are being wasted. If the construction industry and the public are to receive maximum benefits, it must be through further imaginative research and proper application of this research to better and more economical house design.
Are standard procedures for evaluating the properties of building constructions necessary or desirable? What tests are required on a particular construction, and what type of loading should be imposed? Given the results of a specific test program, how can one determine whether the construction is suitable or even safe?
These are the questions that must be considered and discussed if we are to obtain worth-while results from standard methods of testing building constructions. Indeed these questions need to be answered as each standard is conceived if it is to receive widespread use and prove of benefit to the construction industry. It is time to reanalyze the results of tests of building components made during the past quarter century and to reassess the value of this research and its effect on construction practices. A review of our progress would indicate not only the value of past research but would aid us in being more objective in future studies.
Retired Chief of Engineering Mechanics Section, National Bureau of Standards, U. S. Department of Commerce, Washington, D. C.