Evolution of Historic Building Systems

Evolution of Historic Building Systems

Building wall and structural systems have evolved over time due to changes in available materials, production technology, costs, regulations, and the performance standard of care. Each system has unique characteristics that identify its place in time and impact its overall performance. In this webinar, we will introduce common building systems in three time periods – early (pre-1830s), industrial (1830s to 1920s), and modern (1920s to 1970s) – focusing on wood framing; load-bearing masonry; transitional masonry; metal-framed, concrete-framed, and concrete buildings; and early curtain walls. We will also describe common features of these systems, explore how the systems evolved, and discuss advantages and limitations for each.


After attending this webinar, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the timeline of construction techniques and the evolution of practice.
  • Identify typical structural systems throughout different construction periods.
  • List advantages, disadvantages, and limitations of typical structural systems.
  • Identify characteristics of typical structural systems in the field.

Participants will earn 1.0 AIA CES Learning Unit (LU/HSW) for attending the live webinar. Registration is free. Please note that space is limited – email events@sgh.com to join our waitlist if the session is closed when you register.

About the Speaker

Susan  Knack-Brown
Susan Knack-Brown | Building Technology Division Head, Boston

Well-known by clients and colleagues for her technical expertise and commitment to preserving our communities’ historic structures, Susan specializes in large-scale restoration and adaptive reuse projects. However, her broad technical practice encompasses building enclosure investigation and design projects of various sizes on both contemporary and landmark buildings. Her approach to projects includes a focus on collaborating with the entire team to achieve project goals, working to extend the function and performance of existing buildings, and appropriately applying technology to enhance performance and improve the construction process. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with colleagues, clients, and the community.

Casey Williams
Casey Williams | Associate Principal

Casey Williams has been involved with the investigation and remedial design of building enclosures, as well as the subsequent construction administration of repairs, including the New York State Capitol, the Massachusetts State House, and the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Her focus is on historic building investigation and repair projects. Casey has experience investigating and designing repairs for slate, copper, and various membrane roofing systems, brick and stone masonry, and architectural terra cotta.