Imagine buying a condo for millions of dollars only to find out that the building the surrounds it has sunk over a foot and has tilted 2 inches. You probably wouldn’t feel too good about your purchase, would you? The Leaning Tower of Pisa (or, as I thought it was called when I was 7, “The Leaning Tower of Pizza”) wasn’t supposed to lean either, but they were able to turn lemons into lemonade and make it into a gigantic tourist trap. That’s a luxury that I’m not sure the Millennium Tower in San Francisco has, unfortunately.
Opened in 2008, The Millennium Tower, a 58 story luxury high rise condo complex, is located on the North East corner of Downtown San Francisco. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the residents have paid anywhere from $1.6 to $10 million dollars for a home inside the building. Curbed reports that San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence and Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Montana even make their home there. Unfortunately, after 8 years of being open, the building has reportedly settled 16 inches and even tilted two inches, as opposed to the 6 inches it was expected to settle. From what I can gather from Google Earth (using this handy trick), that 2 inch drop occurs across approximately 419 feet, which is a 0.0397% slope (update: slope percentage was corrected on 8/10/16). Although not an immediate safety risk, it’s definitely a cause for concern, especially in a city with a high risk of earthquakes, like San Francisco.
The building owners, Millennium Partners, have placed the blame upon a giant hole dug adjacent to the property by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) which is the start of a new transit center, according to Curbed. The TJPA, however, has denied any responsibility for the condo’s settling issues and released a two page press release stating their investigation findings. According to the TJPA, the builders of the Millennium Tower failed to adequately support the heavy concrete structure down to the bedrock, around 200 feet below grade. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the piles were only driven 80 feet down, which the TJPA referred to as “soft, compressible soil,” which is not surprising given the short distance to the shoreline. The TJPA also claimed that, when their work on the new transit center began in 2010, the Tower had already settled 10 inches.
This is all shaping up to be a long and costly legal battle to determine the responsible authority. According to Alex Barthet, a construction lawyer in Florida, “it is never easy to determine fault and who may be accountable for needed repairs. There are latent and patent defects, express and implied warranties – enough legal theories to make your head spin. But if negligence can be shown, everyone from the unit purchasers to the developer may have claims for construction defects. And if that’s not enough to complicate matters, rushing off to repair the problems isn’t without its own risks, legally. It could be a mistake to fix a mistake if evidence is destroyed or if the repairs aren’t handled correctly.”
Anyone getting that sinking feeling?
2016 has been a big year for OSHA, as the organization has raised the cost of fines for safety violations for the first time since 1990. Made, effective in August, fines were raised 78%, making the cost of a serious violation $12,471. The construction industry is by far the most affected by OSHA regulations, as it accounted for 43.3% of all citations, 52.92% of all inspections, and 44.16% of all penalties assessed from October 2015 to September 2016. Of all specific types of contractors, roofing contractors account for the largest quantity of citations (6,924), following by framing contractors (3,810), and masonry contractors (2,501).
Dubai has held the record for world’s tallest building since the opening of the Burj Khalifa in 2010. The gigantic tower, which houses office, residential, retail, and hotel space spread over 163 floors stands 2,717 feet (828m) in the air. It was an impressive feat, once in which Dubai and the United Arab Emirates pride themselves on, but in a few short years, its crown will be passed to a new record holder.
Habitat for Humanity is one of the construction industry’s favorite volunteer organization and for good reason. Over the past 40 years, the non-profit builder has helped construct, rehabilitate, or preserve over 800,000 affordable houses for families in need. It’s truly an area that construction workers throughout the world can showcase their skills and donate their time, in order to give back to their community.
There have been several new laws in 2016, or new enforcement styles of existing laws, that are ready to make their mark on the construction industry. Among them are the US Department of Labor’s new rules on overtime pay and the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act. Both laws affect the amount construction employees must be paid and when they should receive that pay, so documentation of employee time sheets and payments is becoming increasingly important. If your company plans to bid on any Federal Government work, violations of these new laws can keep you from getting the job.
There’s no doubt that construction is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but there was a time when power tools and heavy construction machinery didn’t even exist. Even with those tools being absent on job sites, amazing structures were still built for thousands of years and with extremely intricate detail. SO how exactly did they do it? Tons of manpower and tons of time, something that many modern jobs don’t have the luxury of. Ignoring all of today’s modern conveniences, a group of French construction workers and other skilled tradesmen and women have teamed up to build an authentic 13th Century style castle.
2016 has been filled with controversial law changes affecting contractors, like the first increase in OSHA fines in 27 years, OSHA’s new injury reporting rule, and new overtime pay rules. Industry groups have submitted comments hoping to ease the pain on contractors, but have not had any success overturning any of them. The next challenge facing contractors started with the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order signed in July 31.
Even though self-driving vehicles are just that, self-driving, they’ve always still had a seat for a driver and a steering wheel. Perhaps that means that designers were afraid that their technology wouldn’t work correctly. Or maybe, customers weren’t fully committed to only being able to use them as a self-driving vehicle. Well, it seems as if Komatsu isn’t worried about either of those things anymore, as they’ve officially unveiled their newest autonomous (self-driving) haulage vehicle this week at MINExpo, which was held in Las Vegas from September 26-28, 2016.
Decades in the making, The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture (NMAAHC) officially opened its doors to the public on September 24, 2016. Contained inside are over 36,000 artifacts that document and promote the accomplishments of African Americans throughout history and is “the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture,” according to the museum’s website.
There are people who spend their lives searching for Big Foot or the Lock Ness Monster, but sometimes humans only find legends when they’re not specifically looking for them. Reports have surfaced this week of a construction crew in Altamira, Para in Brazil which has apparently found the largest snake in history on their job site.
There’s no doubt that road work can be a huge inconvenience to drivers, but many times businesses in the route of the work can suffer more, even causing some to have to close permanently. While many projects around the country have been navigating towards pre-fabricated and modular construction to reduce the time workers actually spend on site, a project in Canada will be opting for the giant inflatable tunnel method.