Construction is a bit of a mystery for those not in the industry. And there is something almost magical about seeing a building taking shape. It's almost like watching a movie based on a book as it jumps from the pages to be played out right in front of your eyes.
And once the building is complete, there are unique features that continue to be a mystery. For example, within the stairwells of many buildings there are several circular indents, seemingly cut into the concrete. They aren't randomly placed, they have a pattern to them - almost decorative. But are they?
Well, as it turns out, the answer is 'yes' and 'no'. According to FM Project Manager Glen Armstrong (PM on recent Ivey building and the new Engineering Building), this circular relief is the remanence of construction. Left both as a design feature, but also because of its functionality during a build.
When wet cement is poured for a wall it requires a form to hold it in place - like a jello mold. Usually the form material is wood. It's easy to work with, it's inexpensive and can be reused in some cases. To ensure the walls of the form don't fall to either side during pouring they are held together with a series of tie rods. The ties are then secured on either side of the form to keep the cement from collapsing inward (making a narrowing in the wall) or outward (making a bulge in the wall).
The tie is cut off snug to the concrete and remains buried in the wall with a small piece of the rod still sticking out in the middle the circular indent. And that's the functional part of the mystery.
Source: Hoke, John Ray Jr.(2000). Architectural Graphic Standards 10th Ed. Somerset, New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Why are they filled or not filled? Is it aesthetics? Basically, yes.
Mystery solved, Encyclopedia Brown. Let us know if you've identified any mysterious architectural features that require explanation; Email Facilities Management.
Academic Building (FIMS / Nursing); http://uwo.ca/fm/projects/capital_projects/fims_nursing.html