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?
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.