Longevity of Structures and Functioning Building Skins

When architects and engineers design a building, they expect the specified systems to perform as intended through their design service life. Unfortunately, when the theory of design meets the reality of construction, compromises often are made. In the worst-case scenario, systems fail prematurely. 

In this study, data from over two decades of building forensic investigations are compiled and analyzed to reveal trends in building skin system longevity and the various causes and modes of failure. Case studies and possible causes for these trends also are discussed. Based on these observations, changes to design and construction industry processes are proposed to address these issues.

This presentation examines the longevity of building structures built in the last century and the concepts of true durability and truly functioning building skins. Lee Dunham and Dave Bates briefly will review case studies of skin failures affecting the performance of structures of different building materials. Quality control, both in design and construction, will be discussed, as well as the idea that durability must be a key component of sustainability. 

Lee and Dave will cover the influence of economic change and code revisions on the quality of the building enclosure as well as discuss the importance of pragmatism and simplicity in design and construction. Lastly, the pair will discuss the benefit from lessons learned from real building skin failures in service.


10:55 AM - 11:25 AM
7 April 2020


Lee Dunham
Principal, PE, SE, OAC Services, Inc
Dave Bates
Senior Architect, OAC Services, Inc.