Quantum mechanics, at first glance, seems like it has nothing in common with human behavior. But what if human behavior was actually influenced by quantum mechanics?

One of the most mind-blowing experiments I recall learning about in my advanced physics classes is the famous double-slit experiment. Without getting too deep in the weeds of quantum physics, the experiment basically demonstrates that a particle behaves one way when there is an observer, yet behaves completely differently when not actively observed. In other words, whether or not someone is observing the experiment directly impacts the outcome of the experiment.

If particles behave differently when being observed, what about living, breathing human beings? Does quality of human work product improve or decline when workers know they are being watched? (more…)

With 1.4-million square feet of habitable space, spread out among 61 floors, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco is projected to be the tallest building “West of the Mississippi” topping out at 1,070 feet above ground.

(It should be noted that while the top of the spire at the Wilshire Grand in LA will reach 1,099 feet, Salesforce will still have the highest occupied floor at 970 feet. Until, of course, some third building is erected to surpass both of the former…) (more…)

Architecture, as a profession, bears quite a few similarities to the consulting profession. Chief among those commonalities is the “feast or famine” cycle — there always seems to be either too much work to handle, or nothing but the sound of crickets. The same paradigm applies to that exalted class of designers known as “starchitects.”

Sometimes when architects get busy, they may have the capacity for completing the required work, but may not necessarily have the time for a completely fresh and unique design. Clients want the starchitect’s stamp on the drawings for the increased market value that comes with it, and may be willing to lower their expectations if time is in short supply.

It seems that the scenario described above may be the explanation for just how “un-Gehry” the latest Frank Gehry design to be unveiled seems. The project, known as Ascend, will result in an 80,000 square foot office building in El Segundo, not far from Los Angeles International Airport. Roger Vincent, reporting for the LA Times, has more (as well as renderings):

So-called creative office buildings, usually created by upgrading old structures that have outlived their original purpose such as manufacturing, are the darlings of today’s real estate market and often command higher rents than glitzy skyscrapers do.

The $50 million building in El Segundo with one big floor containing 80,000 square feet is intentionally unassuming, the architect said in a videotaped interview.

“It’s not architectural in the sense that you are making an architectural statement,” Gehry said. “It is really creating an environment that energizes and promotes interactivity in a less formal way.”

Not sure if I buy that statement. Commissioning Gehry to design a 1-story, open floor plan office building contained within a relatively unimaginative plain box for some reason seems akin to hiring Salvador Dalí to paint a fence.

Green building has been around for a quite a while now, and is clearly here to stay. However, a major obstacle continues to be proper valuation of sustainable upgrades and third-party certifications/ratings. A few years ago, the Appraisal Institute, which sets the standards of care for real estate appraisal in the US, rolled out an optional form that appraisers could use to assess the value of green features. Unfortunately, that form and the requisite training for using it is somewhat limited as a tool for comparing sustainable features and upgrades between different homes. (more…)

All this week I’ve been observing destructive testing at a high rise. At a building across the street, workers are taking down scaffolding from a 20+ story condo project after repairs were made to the building’s exterior.

More than a few times over the past several days my colleagues and I have observed workers not tied off to proper fall protection performing extreme acrobatic feats while carrying fairly large and unwieldy sections of scaffolding using both hands.

Watching these hard working folks putting their life on the line with every step has been eye-opening  and terrifying, while at the same time providing me a real sense of gratitude that my job isn’t nearly as risky.

And then I saw this: 

(Via Construction Junkie)

Construction Dive’s Kim Slowey reports that stachitect Bjarke Ingels’ firm, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), has made quite the strategic move:

BIG is nothing if not innovative, so there’s no doubt the architecture firm will be able to amp up its edgy creations with the addition of an in-house engineering unit. BIG said the new division will also work with its BIG Ideas research group, which helped develop the concept behind Copenhagen’s Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant.

Ingels has long been one of my favorite living architects, and his innovative thinking clearly isn’t limited to design, but also firm management.

Within the construction defect industry, we sometimes joke that the repairs proposed by some parties represent a much more costly approach than is truly necessary to solve a particular situation. You might hear comments like “that’s the Cadillac repair” or “how can this be so expensive — what are they trying to do, gold plate the building to keep leaks out?”

So when I learned that there was an artist using gold to fill cracks as part of a new installation, I couldn’t help but take a closer look. Allison Meier, writing for Hyperallergic, highlighted the work of Rachel Sussman inspired by an ancient Japanese art form known as kintsukuroi. (more…)

Smart homes of the future may just as readily respond to instructions sent by text, as the voice-powered interfaces that dominate the early entrants to the market for the Internet of Things in the home. Amazon, Google and Apple all have technologies largely relying on speech recognition, but as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discovered after installing an extremely sophisticated voice-powered smart home system, not everyone is comfortable with that style of user interface.

Jeremy Wagstaff, writing for Reuters:

Facebook (FB.O) founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, was working on Jarvis, his own voice-powered AI home automation, and found he preferred communicating by text because, he wrote, “mostly it feels less disturbing to people around me.”

A small Singapore-based firm called Unified Inbox is working on the challenge:

At Unified Inbox, Ruckert looks ahead to being able to communicate not only with one’s own appliances, but with machines elsewhere. Bosch executives in Singapore, for example, have demonstrated how a user could ask a smart CCTV camera how many people were in a particular room.

As famous inventor James Dyson stated in a recent interview:

For me, the future is making everything happen for you without you being particularly involved in it.

Who even knew that there was a contest to see who can demolish stuff the best? Canadian firm Priestly Demolition, Inc. (PDI) won the 2016 World Demolition Award for best project for their masterful work on a project in Ontario, Canada.

Due to environmental concerns, a bridge needed to be removed without using explosives. In just a week’s time, braving subzero temperatures, PDI successfully dismantled the bridge. Construction Junkie’s Shane Hedmond has more:

The original Nipigon River Bridge was constructed in 1937 as a simple steel deck truss bridge. 37 years later, in 1974, steel girders replaced the truss and it had remained the same ever since. In 2013, a $106 project was started that would replace the old bridge with a new 4 lane bridge and close down the old one. PDI was contracted as the demolition company responsible for removing the old bridge.

The Nipigon River is the largest tributary of Lake Superior and, because of that, there were many environmental concerns for the river wildlife and surrounding habitats. Not only that, but the company had to worry about the recently constructed first half of the new bridge which sat directly adjacent to the old bridge. The old bridge stood 100 feet (30m) above the water and spanned 827 feet (252 meters). Without being able to disturb the water below, the team ultimately decided to jack the bridge up and use hydraulic rollers to move the girders off of the supporting piers and onto land.

Without further ado, I present a 24-minute long video produced by PDI showing the process in depth:

Microsoft’s HoloLens is yet another entrant in the race for virtual/mixed/augmented reality domination. Via the Microsoft website:

World-famous architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha has expressed his delight after Microsoft and Trimble helped to recreate some of his most well-known buildings using HoloLens.

The 88-year-old Brazilian said it was “fantastic” that he could see his creations using Microsoft’s mixed-reality headset, which places computer-generated holograms in the real world.

Mendes da Rocha’s designs were recreated using Trimble’s SketchUp, before being uploaded to SketchUp Viewer for HoloLens, the first commercial app for HoloLens available via the Microsoft Store.

Here’s a short video: