According to NBC Bay Area, the situation for the residents of the Millennium Tower in San Francisco has not improved, and is in fact even more disconcerting than ever before:

The owners could take no solace from the latest data taken in June from the rooftop of the 58-story building. It shows since November, the structure unexpectly tilted two and a half inches more to the west in just the first half of this year.

The data, compiled by the ARUP engineering firm brought in by officials of the nextdoor Transbay transit terminal project, suggest the structure is tilting twice as fast as it had been in earlier ARUP data. It is now listing at least 14 inches toward the massive Salesforce building going up nearby on Mission Street.

The data also show the building has sunk close to 17 inches at its low point, settling about an inch since the problem emerged last year.

So that’s bad news, but so is the fact that the County Assessor’s office has already knocked up to $300,000 off the assessed value of many units in the building.

This story is long from being resolved, that’s for sure.

Building Enclosure Online shared the following:

After pioneering the use of virtual design in construction, Mortenson Construction has developed a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) mobile app to help the University of Washington community “see” the future CSE2 computer science building – well before its doors open to students in January of 2019. Similar to the popular Pokémon Go, users can either point their smartphones at the construction site on campus – or at a printed handout if off campus – to experience a life-like digital representation of the future CSE2 building.

According to the article (which requires subscription to read, unfortunately), Mortenson developed the app in-house. I think what impresses me the most about the capabilities of this kind of technology is how engaging it becomes for stakeholders.

Back when I was working on the Pfizer Global Research & Development campus project in La Jolla, there came a point where the entire project was threatened due to changes to the company’s capital plan. One of the pieces of collateral that I used to help save the project (and 1,500 jobs in the process), was a 3D flythrough of the the campus. Once stakeholders could see themselves in the project, and could experience what it would be like to actually work in such a space, the green light came rather easily.

That was 15 years ago. The cost for doing something similar today would be about 2% of what we paid back then.

Both inside the industry and externally, there is an almost urgent message heralding the massive disruption already taking place in the world of design and construction.

The latest entrant in the race to proclaim the end of the construction industry as we know it is none other than McKinsey & Company. Historically a management consulting firm that uses both qualitative and quantitative methods for evaluating business performance, the firm has numerous clients in both the public and private sector after more than 90 years of existence. (more…)

Friday is here, and this video seems like the perfect end to this week:

I first noticed this video in a post by Mike Wehner at Boy Genius Report:

As someone who spends much of his work day trying to sift through gadget rumors and staring wide-eyed at photos taken hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth, I’m not the kind of guy who passes judgment on what anyone does for a living. That being said, I have to assume an industry trade show for something as straightforward and utilitarian as construction equipment would be a pretty dull and boring affair. But how wrong I have been.

This footage, smuggled out of some magical fairy tale land where 18-ton bucket loaders prance around like unicorns (or, slightly less interestingly, a Chinese industrial trade show) reveals just how exciting earth-moving machines can be.

While I would like to pretend that this sort of thing happens all the time at construction trade shows, sadly that is not the case. Here’s hoping this trend makes its way to US events in the near future…

Construction Junkie’s Shane Hedmond shared the following:

Runnur, a mobile tech gear company, has developed a hands-free belt clip system for your tablet that’s perfect for construction professionals. The belt clip system attaches to the case you already own and allows you to store it on your hip, keeping your hands free, when it’s not in use.  Also included is a security cord, which keeps the tablet from hitting the ground if you accidentally drop it. The $99 belt clip is compatible with most tablets, but larger tablets like the Surface Pro and iPad Pro may need to upgrade to the beefier Tablet Tool Belt.

To give you an idea of what it looks like, here is a video:

This is so cool! Years ago, I was able to find a special pouch that would go on a standard tool belt that was meant for holding a clipboard, but could also hold an iPad. When performing back-to-back inspections all day long, especially when inspecting roofs or attics, being able to safely toss my iPad in the pouch to free up my hands was indispensable.

These days, I prefer to carry less stuff when performing inspections and thereby avoid the tacky looking tool belt — or worse: a fishing vest! — so I don’t expect to be purchasing this any time soon. However, if I found myself doing 40 hours of inspections a week again, this would be high on my list of priorities for both protecting my gear, as well as for improved ergonomics.

Too often, we as a civilization tend to view buildings — particularly the ones we live in — as disposable, impermanent and temporary. What if we could instead embrace what was built before us and add to  or modify it, instead of of tearing everything down to start over, or worse, spoiling undeveloped land.

Kate Reggev, writing for Dwell, highlights 4 projects that build on the ruins of previous structures:

While the English word ruin comes from the Latin “ruina”—meaning “destruction” or “downfall”—ruins can be the literal and figurative foundations for stunning new contemporary additions, insertions, and renovations.

Ruins have long been romanticized, praised, and studied; they attest to what once existed, to buildings that were formerly whole and functioning. During the Renaissance, ruins became the subject of observation and appreciation by the cultural elite, spawning the development of neoclassical ideals and architecture. Today, ruins are still seen as evocative, ethereal, and arresting, but they are also understood to be ripe for modern interpretations and additions where contemporary architectural language contrasts with history. Here, we take a look at four projects that incorporate existing ruins as functional and aesthetic elements in new, contemporary design.

Ronald Dahl’s beloved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one book, but a sequel called The Great Glass Elevator is where in the movie Charlie explores his world from the air in a super-advanced elevator that moves in any direction, but requires no cables.

Clearly the engineers at Thyssen Krup were inspired by Dahl’s tale of a boy who one day discovered all his dreams had come true, as they have announced proof of concept for a cable-less elevator that moves both vertically and horizontally. Inhabitat’s Lacy Cooke has more:

The elevator was invented over 160 years ago, and engineering firm ThyssenKrupp evidently thinks it’s time to shake things up a bit. They’ve designed the MULTI: a rope-less horizontal-vertical system that’s drawn comparisons to Willy Wonka’s crazy sideways-moving elevator. And now they’ve brought their designs from paper into the real world at an 807-foot-high test tower in Rottweil, Germany.

ThyssenKrupp’s technology allows multiple elevator cabins to run in a loop – “like a metro system inside a building,” according to the firm. And no cables or ropes are necessary; the cars move due to a magnet-based drive system as might be found in Maglev trains. The test tower boasts 12 test shafts, with cars that can travel as rapidly as 59 feet per second.

Here is a video from Thyssen Krup demonstrating the technology:

First the robots came for manufacturing jobs. Then they went after skilled labor. Now, robots are going after inspectors.

Reuters’ Alwyn Scott reports on a new business line at GE dedicated to a mostly automated process of inspecting buildings and other facilities:

General Electric Co has begun testing autonomous drones and robotic “crawlers” to inspect refineries, factories, railroads and other industrial equipment with an eye on capturing a bigger slice of the $40 billion companies around the globe spend annually on inspections.

In trials with customers, aerial drones and robots are able to move around and inside remote or dangerous facilities while photographing corrosion or taking temperature, vibration or gas readings that can be analyzed by computer algorithms and artificial intelligence, Alex Tepper, head of business development at Avitas Systems, a startup GE formed for this business, told Reuters.

Some notes:

  • First and foremost, this is for petroleum, transportation and energy distribution systems
  • GE will not be replacing all human involvement, though it will be leveraging artificial intelligence to further improve the inspection technology
  • IBM has already proven the use of AI in detecting manufacturing defects

The primary driver for developing this capability is attrition among experienced inspectors. This parallels what is happening in the construction industry: highly experienced skilled professionals are retiring, yet few younger folks are drawn to the industry.