Course Syllabus

Course Description:

8-28-2013 23-01-10This course explores the interrelations between building functions, loads, structural system, materials and construction methods. Topics addressed are structural building layout, design, structural detailing, and documentation of predominantly large-scale buildings and other structures made of steel, concrete, engineered wood and masonry.

Students will be exposed to a wide range of topics centered around structural systems and will be encouraged to develop an integrated approach to planning that considers efficient and appropriate structural solutions. Concept-based design projects and assignments will provide an opportunity to practice this approach.

Emphasis is placed in this course on development of efficient structural form, conceptual and preliminary structural design (using software and approximate calculation methods), integrated design and structural detailing.

Meetings: Spring Term – Tue, Thu 10:00-11:15, Design Building 312
Credits: 3


  1. Systems, pattern and precedent:
    1. Regulatory constraints
    2. Structural loads
  2. Form, organization and layout
  3. Horizontal systems
  4. Vertical systems
  5. Lateral systems
  6. Long-span structures:
    1. Approximate and preliminary design
    2. Designing using software
    3. Optimal design
  7. Material performance: Properties, uses and detailing

This course covers NAAB-requirements for structural systems.

Required Text:

Get this before our first class:

It would also be helpful if you still have access to the text from Tec 2:

Optional Literature:

I expect you to have access to all of these reference books (these should either be available in your studio or in the library):


Journals and Websites:

  • DETAIL – An international journal with great architectural detail documentation.
  • Structurae – An international structural database


  • IES VisualAnalysis (version 12) is the software installed on the UMass IT computers. This is a very easy to use structural analysis program. You can use this program for free on any of the OIT computers (in the Design Building or the library for example) or get your own copy.


Alexander C. Schreyer, M.A.Sc., Dipl.-Ing
Senior Lecturer and Program Director BCT 

Office: Design Building, Room 318
Office hours: Sign up at
Phone: +1 (413) 545-1976


Rules, Exams and Grading:

Your course grade will consist of these components:

30% – 5-6 Projects / Assignments
30% – 1/2-term project
30% – Mid-semester and final quizzes
10% – Participation

The grading scheme will follow this metric:

A ≥ 93.0 % | A− = 90.0-92.9 %
B+ = 87.0-89.9 % | B = 83.0-86.9 % | B− = 80.0-82.9%
C+ = 77.0-79.9 % | C = 73.0-76.9 % | C− = 70.0-72.9 %
D+ = 67.0-69.9 % | D = 60.0-66.9 %
F < 60.0 %

Pre-requisite: Tectonics 2 (BCT 530) – An understanding of forces and moments, force systems, free-body diagrams, trusses and moment and shear diagrams.

Co-requisite: none

Required Skills: Students should be familiar with computers (this is not tied to a particular operating system, but familiarity with CAD applications and Office is expected). Students must have internet access to download some course material, communicate via e-mail and access the course website. On-campus computers are available in many locations, in the library for example.

Attendance: Regular class attendance is expected.

Absences: Whenever possible, unavoidable absences for classes and exams need to be discussed with the instructor prior to the class or the exam (in person or send an e-mail). Appropriate documentation will be required. After-the-fact notifications will only be accepted if no possibility of prior submittal existed. If students must miss an exam due to a university-accepted reason, the instructor must be contacted before the exam (if possible) to arrange for a solution to this problem. Other than for accepted reasons, make-up exams will not be given.

Students are responsible for obtaining missed course material. Only portions of the full lecture content are available on the course website.

Late hand-in: Due dates will be set at the time of assignment and are published on the question sheet. Assignments and lab reports must be submitted on time. Late submittal (without prior instructor approval) will incur the following grade adjustments: -5% per day (including weekends) until the day, when the solutions are published and/or the corrected work is returned. After that point, students will receive 0% (an F) for the missed hand-in.

Grievance Procedure: If students feel that an awarded grade is not accurate for whatever reason, they may dispute it by submitting a written explanation together with the marked material to the instructor within two weeks of receiving the marked material.

Special Needs: All reasonable efforts will be made to meet the individual needs of the student. If students have a learning disability or need special accommodation please make an appointment with the instructor to discuss your needs. I also encourage students to contact me if they are international (or otherwise new to the English language) in need of help for climbing the “language barrier”.

All discussions will be kept strictly confidential.

Academic Honesty: The University Academic Honesty Policy applies. This policy can be found in the Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities (at and covers plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and facilitating dishonesty. Occurrences of any of those practices will be dealt with according to university policy.

Original write-up of homework is required by each group/individual (as applicable) for a given assignment or lab report.

Classroom Behavior: As per building policy, it is not permitted to consume food in the classroom. Smoking is also prohibited. Students are strongly encouraged to turn all cell-phones or other electronic communications devices (or such software if you are using a computer) off during class time.

Any disruptive behavior will be sanctioned appropriately.

No component of the course (printed and online materials, lectures, labs, discussion sessions etc.) may be recorded (audio or video), broadcast or re-published without the written consent of the instructor.