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.
Almost two years after they announced the release of their Bluetooth Battery that allowed owners to remotely monitor battery life and even disable the battery if it’s stolen, DeWalt is set to release a massive upgrade to their connected tool platform.
Construction sites can often be some pretty spooky places, especially when unexpected items and creatures, like human remains, are found on the property. They can also be the site of some heavy superstition, like at several projects in Iceland that were believed to be delayed by hidden elves. But, according to one contractor, there’s something especially spooky about the childhood home of serial killer Ted Bundy.
Cranes collapse for a variety of different reasons. Some are overloaded, some catch on fire, and others succumb to high wind loads. Regardless of the reason, a falling crane can cause tons of damage and have the potential to kill on-site workers and pedestrians walking near the job site.
A recent crawler crane collapse in Northern Italy could have been much worse as the crane, carrying a large section of viaduct, crashed to the ground.
On January 1, 2017, OSHA officially put into effect a revision to workplace injury and illness reporting that requires certain employers to submit recorded information of these instances electronically. Companies were to submit all of this information from the previous year (2016) by July 1, 2017, but now that due date is in jeopardy.
According to the US Department of Labor (US DOL), the construction industry has the highest rate of current drug users (15.6%) as compared to any other industry in the United States. As the city of New York grapples with trying to reduce their alarming rate of injuries and fatalities on construction sites, the New York chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) has proposed that lawmakers add mandatory drug and alcohol testing for construction workers to the law books, according to the New York Daily News.
Feeling the pressure of 9 straight quarters with a decline in total revenue, Caterpillar has acquired the equipment sharing startup, Yard Club, to get help dig themselves out of the dirt. Their most recent quarter was the company’s first positive revenue quarter since November of 2012.
Last year, Tesla announced a new disruptive product to the market in the form of solar roof shingles. Unlike traditional solar roof panels, these shingles mimic the look of traditional terra cotta, clay, and slate tiles, creating a more aesthetically pleasing look. This week, the company began taking pre-orders for the roof shingles and also released a cost calculator.
The worst day on the job is when someone on site gets injured. The 2nd through 500th worst days are the legal battle that follows many of those injuries. Nobody expects accidents to happen, but it’s best to be adequately prepared if one does. That not only includes knowing how to react to injuries with a safety plan, but also making sure your company’s documentation is in order in case lawsuits start flying.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is constantly researching ways to improve construction process and materials, like this material 10 times the strength of steel, or this solar cell that’s lighter than a soap bubble, or this “reversible concrete.” This time the Institute is showing off its autonomous robot that can spit out building structures on site within hours.