Wednesday, January 25, 2012

when you wish upon a star

Did you ever notice the stars on the outside of old brick buildings and wonder what they are for?

They look like decoration but they are more essential than that. They hold the building together. These two buildings are within walking distance of our ClockTower.

Brick can be stacked only so high before the walls begin to bulge out under their own weight. Build too high and the building just collapses. So 19th century architects came up with a way to hold brick buildings together. 

They ran large threaded rods through the brickwork with big washers and nuts on the outside, to keep the brick inline. Stars were a favorite motif but big rectangles work even better. Our ClockTower has these rectangular washers on the outside.

In fact, our tower goes up eight stories so it is studded with these washers.

They run through the tower itself and are visible inside, in the stairwell.

Without this reinforcement, the ClockTower couldn’t be more than a few stories high.

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