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.
Every year, we search all year long to find construction projects that push the limits on what can be done. Through the hard work of workers in each and every trade, new techniques and technologies are produced to allow us to achieve what was previously thought to be impossible.
Below are 9 examples of projects that pushed the boundaries and were under construction, completed, or announced in 2017. If you have a project that you think is really cool that you think we should include in our 2018 list, please contact us to let us know!
The solar photo-voltaic panel installation profession is one of the newest jobs on the construction site. It's also considered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to be one of the fastest growing professions across any industry. From 2016 to 2026, the BLS expects employment to rise 105 percent, when the average is only around 5 percent.
As open land in cities across the world is becoming harder to find, the tendency to go vertical on buildings is becoming more popular. For the fourth straight year, a record number of buildings 200 meters (656 feet) or higher were built in a single year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2016. Among all industries, fatal work injuries rose 7% in 2016 (5,190 deaths) over 2015 (4,836 deaths). The fatal injury rate per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers also rose from 3.4 to 3.6 year over year.
Glaziers mainly install windows, skylights, and storefronts on buildings. Because they work with glass and often from heights, the trade is highly susceptible to cuts and falls from ladders and scaffolding.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the glazing profession will grow 11% by 2026, which is higher than the rate of all professions combined.
If you have not submitted your company’s OSHA Form 300A electronically through OSHA’s Injury Tracking Application (ITA) yet, you only have a few days left to do so.
Cranes are a necessary and useful piece of equipment on most construction sites, but extreme caution must be taken when working with them, as any failure could be catastrophic or, at the very least, very costly.
Sheet metal workers are most often seen on construction sites installing or repairing HVAC ductwork, but their duties can also include installing sheet metal roofs, siding, and gutters.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the sheet metal profession will grow 9% by 2026.
Construction superintendents may not like it when the building inspector comes on site and hands out red cards, but inspectors perform important tasks that make sure our buildings were constructed to code and are safe for the public.
At minimum, building inspectors typically require a high school diploma, but many states also require them to have additional certifications or licenses.
OSHA has long used the language in the OSH act to find and hold multiple employers accountable for the actions of another on construction job sites. For decades, OSHA would not only cite the employer whose employees were exposed to hazards, but would also cite the employer who was designated the “controlling employer” on-site, which is most often the general contractor.