Philosophy: Most guides to the built environment emphasize architectural interpretations of the structures that form the built environment. This is in some ways understandable; much of the built environment comprises buildings, and the outward form of most buildings is primarily the work of architects. A purely architectural interpretation of cities misses an entire class of structures, namely bridges, whose outward appearance is primarily the result of the creativity of a structural engineer. Furthermore, even the examination of buildings is significantly deepened by an understanding of the methods used to support the architectural vision. In some rare instances, Fazlur Khan's skyscrapers, for example, this supporting system is itself the visible form of the building.
Practicalities: This guide is a partial effort at augmenting current guides to the region of Western Massachusetts with interpretations of the structural engineering of the region. Many bridges are represented that are significant but missed in the architectural guides, and other buildings and bridges are interpreted as works of structure rather than architecture. At a more basic level, this guide provides a large number of images, as well as directions and maps, that should prove useful to students and those interested in the built environment of Western Massachusetts.
About: The development of this guide was supported during the 2008-2009 University of Massachusetts Amherst academic year by the College of Engineering through their Structural Engineering Department. Allen Sit, then an undergraduate student in Civil Engineering, was the student, and he was advised by Sanjay R. Arwade Professor of Civil Engineering. The inspiration for the guide came from a recently created guide created by Rachel Sangree and Matt Sisinni depicting the Structures of Baltimore. The inspiration of the Structures of Baltimore guide came from the course Perspectives on the Evolution of Structures, taught by Professors Arwade and Benjamin W. Schafer whom worked together in the Civil Engineering Department at John Hopkins University.
Photo credits: Unless otherwise indicated, all photographs are taken by Allen Sit and may be used for non-commercial purposes provided the photographer is properly credited.
You can browse the guide alphabetically or by a map of the whole region.