Skilled labor shortages in the construction trades have had a major impact on the industry.  It drives costs up, can result in delays, but worst of all, it threatens the integrity of the built environment.

Perhaps the biggest issue contributing to the skilled labor shortages is the lack of young people entering the industry. For the past several decades in the US, educators have strongly pushed students away from vocational training and skill development to focus on college prep as the exclusive option following graduation from high school.

That isn’t likely to change anytime soon. The next problem the construction industry has in terms of skilled labor is how to train and educate those that do find themselves in the trades. And for that, most education techniques still go back to hundreds of years ago when guilds ruled various trades and workers apprenticed under masters to learn on the job.

That’s why I think this 360 VR video from the Eastern Illinois University represents what the future of education looks like for the construction industry:

To view the video properly, you’ll need the Chrome web browser on a computer, or use VR goggles with your mobile device.

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…)

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)

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:

Garrett Huffish, writing for Digital Trends, reports that the first on-site 3D-printed residential home was built in Russia for about $10,134:

Printing the self-bearing walls, partitions, and building envelope took the machine 24 hours to complete. The final result is the first house printed as a whole with an area of 409 square feet.

Erecting the house during the coldest time of the year in Russia was no easy task. The concrete mixture used in the printing only sets right in temperatures above 5 degrees Celcius. Meanwhile, the outside temperature was sitting at minus-35 degrees Celcius. A simple solution was found by setting up a sealed tent around the construction site to keep it warm enough.

Here’s a video:

Learn more at Apis Cor’s website.

Fortunately, nobody was injured in this wild adventure. During construction of a facility, the concrete crew lost control of a gas-powered concrete polisher, and neighbors looking on captured the fairly dangerous but equally hilarious scene on video.

Normally, the polisher’s handlebars are held by a worker who sort of floats the spinning polisher at the bottom of the machine over the freshly-poured surface of the concrete to create a smooth texture. In this case, the polishing disc is stationary, but the rest of the machine is spinning around. Sort of like the tail wagging the dog.

It is more difficult to describe the action than just show it. Without further ado, I present the adventure of the rogue concrete polisher:

(Via BoingBoing)

One of my favorite things about the new Apple TV is the screensaver that comes on after sitting idle for a bit. There are several slow-moving, but highly cinematic low flyovers of several iconic cities. The pass over Abu Dhabi in Dubai is stunning, to say the least.

In a country known for outlandish skyscrapers, and currently holding the record for the tallest building (Burj Khalifa), it should come as no surprise that it will also play host to the world’s first rotating skyscraper.

What is a rotating skyscraper and why would you want one? Mashable says:

The “Dynamic Tower,” which was proposed in 2008 by Israeli-Italian architect David Fisher, will feature 80 rotating stories that make the building look as if it’s in constant motion. Not to mention it’ll produce insanely cool views.

Each different story of the futuristic apartment building will rotate 360 degrees and move independently, so residents can control their speed or decide to stop movement altogether with simple voice commands. The downside? Each unit costs $30 million.

Before you put down a deposit, make sure to check out the promo video:

Back in June of 2015, a relatively unknown company by the name of Daqri introduced an augmented reality-enabled hard hat that they dubbed the Smart Helmet.

While there clearly is not yet massive adoption among the trades for a more than $1,000 hard hat, that doesn’t mean Daqri has ceased innovation. In fact, as Construction Junkie reports, the company unveiled its next wearable device purpose-built for the architecture, engineering and construction industry: Smart Glasses. (Not to be confused with Google Glass, of course…)

Here is a video showcasing Daqri’s products at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show:

And here is a case study produced by Autodesk and Mortensen showcasing the Smart Helmet:

Learn more about the entire product line at Daqri’s website.