There are some buildings that we take for granted because they’ve always been there, especially a unique structure like the Seattle Space Needle. It’s so iconic, that tourists seem to think it’s illegal NOT to take a picture of it when they visit Seattle. The 605 foot (184.41m) tall structure (to the tip of the antenna) houses a rotating restaurant on top and one of the best views of the city in its observation deck (520ft, 160m).
Completed in 1961, just in time for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle was actually the tallest building in the State of Washington until 1969. The entire construction process took just under 8 months.
Although it’s one of the most heavily photographed buildings in America today, very few photos of the actual construction process were ever discovered. For 50 years, historian George Gulacsik had thousands of pictures of the under construction structure stashed away in a closet and they were just recently found two years ago. Since then, the photos have been donated to the Seattle Public Library by his wife, Sally. The Library then converted the photographs to digital copies and made them all available for download online.
It’s truly incredible to have so many amazing pictures of how structures were built back in the early 60’s. Equally as amazing is how many processes look roughly the same, minus a few technological advances here and there. I can personally guarantee that there were far less smartphones on this job site than a typical one today. There’s even one picture of an excavator that looks very similar to the one an Indianapolis man has in his historical construction equipment collection.
We chose a handful of our personal favorites to share in this article, but you can check out the thousands of others in the gallery by clicking here. As you’ll see in the photos, other than hard hats, there’s virtually no safety equipment worn by the workers. Even so, there were no worker deaths during the entire project.
The first three months of the project were spent (unsurprisingly) excavating the site, pouring the foundation, constructing the core, and installing the Needle’s leg bases. The lot where the space needle was to sit was only 120 feet by 120 feet, so the foundation had to start 30 feet below grade. 467 concrete trucks were used to pour roughly 2,800 cubic yards of concrete for the foundation, which also included over 250 tons of steel rebar.
The first leg of the Space Needle was lifted into place on July 19, 1961, by Pacific Car and Foundry Derricks. Inspectors used x-ray equipment to make sure that all of the welds were properly installed at the end of the night. Most of the ironworkers on site made under $4.00 per day, which is roughly $31.74 in 2016 dollars, according to dollartimes.com. That’s an extremely small amount for the dangers of that job.
In October, the structure reached a height of 450 feet before the iconic “halo” was installed on top of the legs. Once the gas torch was installed at the Needle’s highest point on December 8, the workers installed an American flag on top and held a ceremony to commemorate the event. 6 days later, the flag was replaced with a Christmas tree by a man dressed as Santa Claus.
For more information about the construction of the Space Needle, you can even download George Gulascik’s notebook, in which he documented daily milestones of the project. That’s some serious dedication.
Scissor lifts are on most typical construction job sites and they’re an often overlooked hazard. Too often, liberties are taken with the lifts that create unsafe conditions, which can cause injuries and deaths. OSHA recently released the results of their investigation of 10 fatalities and 20 injuries involving scissor lifts and released their findings in what the organization refers to as a “Hazard Alert.”
The concept of solar roadways has been in the news a lot recently. Using the millions of miles of roadways throughout the world to also create power seems like a no brainer, the asphalt and concrete we’re using now aren’t really accomplishing anything more than handling the traffic on the road. But, there’s also a very strong reason why those products are used: they’re strong, reliable, and relatively durable. Still, many researchers believe there is a lot of unharnessed potential for roads and the world now has a very strong test subject for the future of solar roadways in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.
With Sears and Kmart stores slowly closing across the country, Sears Holdings had to sell off their longtime brand of tools, Craftsman to generate cash flow. The buyer turned out to be Stanley Black & Decker (SBD), who also runs DeWalt, Black + Decker, Porter Cable, Bostitch, and others. Late last week, their deal to purchase the tool icon was officially finalized.
In February, the House of Representatives voted 236-187 on a resolution to block the ‘blacklisting' rule, sending it to the Senate for a second vote. The act would have given the federal government the ability to disqualify contractors if they violated any of the 14 labor laws, which can be found here, over the past 3 years on any project totaling $500,000 or more
Try to imagine .0015 inches, it’s not easy to visualize. Now, rip one of the hairs off of your head and that’s about half of the .0015 inches, which is the allowable variance of a concrete floor that one contractor is working on right now.
In what has and will continue to be one of the more controversial construction projects in American history, the US/Mexico border wall appears to be moving forward and there are many construction firms across the country that are very interested in the $20 billion project.
OSHA inspectors and city building officials are usually the people that can make life pretty uncomfortable for construction companies, but it’s a whole different story when the FBI comes calling. A new stadium for the Double-A minor league baseball team, the Hartford Yard Goats, was supposed to open before the 2016 season, but delays and cost overruns have pushed that opening well into 2017. Now, the FBI is investigating, according to the Hartford Courant.
The phrase “America’s crumbling infrastructure” has been said over and over again the past few years. It’s why we’ve seen such a large uptick in bridge demolitions, a rise in innovative processes to reduce the time it takes to replace bridges, and the reason for President Trump’s emphasis on spending $1 trillion over the next 10 years to fix them.
As consistent and strong as wood, concrete, and steel have been for the past centuries, researchers and scientists are continually trying to improve them or create a better replacement product. Many have tried, but none have yet to succeed on a large scale. The latest scientific breakthrough takes a look at the geometry of a structure, rather than simply the material itself.
A portion of the Skagit River Bridge, located in Mount Vernon, Washington catastrophically collapsed into the water below after a semi hauling an oversized load clipped a cross beam in 2013. Luckily and amazingly, no one was killed by the incident, but 3 people were taken to the hospital for minor injuries as several cars fell into the river. It took over 3 years to determine a cause and the report states that there were several causes. First, below is security camera footage of the collapse, uploaded to Youtube by newschannel500, in which you can see just how quickly the collapse happened.