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?
As of early March, there were nearly 200 construction companies that marked themselves as “interested” in constructing the US/Mexico border wall. The Daily Mail now reports that over 600 have expressed interest in the design and construction of the wall. The Request for Proposal (RFP) package for the conceptual design of the wall was released on March 17th and the responses are due no later than March 29th.
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.