If you live or work in one of LA's many older concrete buildings and happened to read the Los Angeles Times recent story, "Concrete Risks," your building, as swanky and detailed as it may be, may never be experienced in quite the same light. The report sounds the alarm on over 1,000 concrete buildings in the city and throughout the region that “may be at risk of collapsing in a major earthquake.” As the reporters note, starting in the 1920’s, the skyline of Los Angeles began to be defined by concrete buildings. “By the 1970s, canyons of concrete towers lined some of LA's most famous streets." Even buildings like the iconic Capitol Records tower could be at risk and urgently in need of seismic retrofitting. Other buildings range from seamstress factories downtown to condo towers along “Millionaires’ Mile” in Westwood. “Los Angeles officials have known about the dangers for more than 40 years but have failed to force owners to make their properties safer. The city has even rejected calls to make a list of concrete buildings,” the report asserts. City codes didn’t require more rebar until 1976. The future of such buildings in the city remains unclear. What is clear is that there are many at-risk buildings in need of seismic assessments and retrofits. A team of researchers from UC Berkeley, with backing from the National Science Foundation, has come up with a list. Because of liability issues this list was not made available, but the team did provide their conclusions. Such a list would help the city start addressing this problem, but it would take lot of political will, not to mention risk, for city leaders to take up the cause. According to the article, newly-elected mayor Eric Garcetti says he is interested in reviewing the issue.
Posts tagged with "Concrete":
If you walk down Fifth Avenue and 14th Street toward Union Square and notice a building under construction with crooked columns, don’t worry—it is not about to collapse. According to NBC New York, the SOM-designed New School University Center, previously detailed by AN, is raising eyebrows from the local community because some of its columns are slightly skewed. But it’s no mistake. “It's the most efficient way to carry all of the different structural loads of the building from the top of the foundation, " Joel Towers, Parsons The New School for Design dean told NBC. The New York City Department of Buildings has confirmed there are no safety issues with the project.
Two new projects prove that concrete's rigidity is no longer set in stoneFrom Peter Eisenman’s Berlin Holocaust Memorial to Paul Rudolph’s Art and Architecture building, concrete has been used with finesse in minimalist and brutalist structures and, as such, is mostly thought of as cold or aggressive. Two recent projects in Portugal and Norway are set to change our hard-edged opinion of concrete and show that it can be as fluid as a ribbon waving in the wind. Casa Xieira II, a private home in Leiria, Portugal, designed by A2 + Arquitectos, and the National Tourist Route Rv 889 Havøysund in northern Norway by Reiulf Ramstad Architects both feature winding concrete wrappers that stand out in sharp contrast to their surroundings, a factor that only becomes more important when your primary building material is as stark as concrete. Marco Guarda, an architect at A2 + Arquitectos, described the coastal, western Portuguese city of Leiria as distinguished by "loggers and mythical forests," a place where stone hasn't been featured prominently in construction since the Leiria Castle was built in 1135. In contrast, the smooth, curving walls of Casa Xieira II were created by pouring concrete into a formwork made from wooden planks so that the concrete would retain the wood grain once it dried. The wood grain texture is also A2 + Arquitectos' way of giving a nod to the surrounding forest and as well as to the homeowner, who works in the forestry sector. Before the concrete was poured it was dyed with titanium oxide powder, a readily available dye used in everything from beauty products to food. For Casa Xieira II, Guarda and his team chose a black powder to darken the concrete to a slate grey color that highlights the wood effect. After the concrete was mixed, workers poured it into the frame, vibrating it as they went in order to shake out any air pockets or uneven areas. Once the concrete had set the planks and braces were simply removed. For the Havøysund Tourist Route, which was just completed in June, Reiulf Ramstad Architects conducted extensive testing onsite at Selvika, a bay located along the route between Kokelv and Havøysund in Finnmark county, the northernmost area in Norway. Like A2 + Arquitectos, Ramstad also chose to emphasize the wood grain of their formwork, but instead of wide planks of wood they used narrow strips braced together tightly to make the winding effect as smooth as possible. By inserting sections of industrial pipes into the framework—leaving perfect circles when the concrete dried—portholes were created. It was a challenge to transport all the materials from the manufacturer in Alta, a town several hours away. Selvika is as remote as it looks and extremely cold. However, this factor is also, oddly enough, what makes it a popular destination for local events and is why the Norwegian Public Roads Administration (Vegvesen) went to the trouble of constructing an artful pathway that "invites visitors to experience this remarkable place and it's open, raw landscape."
Bachelorette Pad. This fall, Barbie is finally becoming an architect—and getting a new house—built with the latest sustainable materials. Mattel teamed up with AIA to host a competition to design Barbie’s new home and Ting Li and Maja Parklar's design for the Malibu Beach House took the top prize. Their design features a green roof, solar panels, bamboo flooring, and low VOC paints. More at Inhabitat. Cheating on the Test. In a major blow for public safety, the New York Post reported that American Standard Testing and Consulting Labs—the company responsible for testing the safety and strength of concrete in projects like LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Yankee Stadium—faked concrete test results. DOB inspectors have begun conducting spot checks and the buildings were found safe. Transit Geography. Using Google Maps, Mapnificent illustrates how far public transportation users can go in a specified amount. While only available in major global cities, the maps allow users to calculate transportation times at two intersecting areas, highlighting possible travel distances. Now we can figure out exactly how far public transportation takes us in a New York minute. Hanging in There. Nasa’s Hangar One at Moffet Field in San Francisco—built in 1933 for the USS Macon Navy airship—was once the largest freestanding structure in the world, but funding to renovate the massive facility have fallen through according to Gizmodo. NASA is in the process of pursuing alternative reuse options for the historic modern landmark.
The citywide concrete crackdown continued yesterday as jurors delivered a guilty verdict against Testwell Laboratories and its owner, V. Reddy Kancharla, who were accused of falsifying concrete test reports for a range of high-profile projects including Yankee Stadium and the Freedom Tower. The question of whether Kancharla and his company committed the more serious charge of enterprise corruption, which carries a possible prison sentence of 25 years, is still being examined by the jury, according to the Times. Testwell's defense argued that the inaccuracies found in city-required concrete mix-design reports were nothing more than bookkeeping errors on their part. So far, none of the buildings that received fraudulent reports have been found to have structural concrete issues, but cosmetic cracks in pedestrian ramps at the new Yankee Stadium did require repair, and a lot of finger-pointing. In addition to the enterprise corruption charge, jurors will consider whether Testwell ran a scheme to defraud its customers when it falsified paperwork. To be sure that fraud of this nature is less likely in the future, the DOB established its own Concrete Unit last fall. In addition to conducting surprise visits to construction sites throughout the city, the unit operates an independent testing laboratory that completes its own reports and audits test results of private testing facilities. UPDATE: On February 24, Kancharla, Testwell vice president Vincent Barone, and the company itself were convicted of enterprise corruption. The Times reported that two days after last week's guilty verdict, Kancharla was briefly hospitalized after a suicide attempt. The defendants' sentencing hearing is planned for April 7.
This weekend, a lot of New Yorkers were fixated on Yankee Stadium, though for far different reasons than the Times, which paid the House That Ruth Didn't Build some overdue (or undue, if you're a Steinbrenner) attention. The biggest and most alarming story was that the vaunted stadium—the most expensive ever built in the U.S., in part thanks to questionable public financing—was cracking, particularly in the ramps, a troubling spot given all the foot traffic. It was revealed over a year ago that a faulty concrete tester was employed on the project, along with hundreds of others in the city, though it also turns out the mob was involved in pouring all that concrete. The Times' description is so matter of fact as to be breathtaking:
The ramps were built by a company accused of having links to the mob, and the concrete mix was designed and tested by a company under indictment on charges that it failed to perform some tests and falsified the results of others. But it is unclear whether work performed by either firm contributed to the deteriorating conditions of the ramps.Turns out the ramps are safe, according to a Department of Buildings inspection, but given recent revelations about the mob's infiltration of that city agency, we're glad we're Pittsburgh Pirates fans. Then again, maybe not. Elsewhere, About New York columnist Jim Dwyer took the team to task for not yet making good on its promise to replace the city park on which the new stadium sits with one on the site of the old one, forcing local Little Leaguers to travel as far as Staten Island for "home" games. Then again, part of the reason the Bronx Bombers could be dragging their heals is that preservationists are still fighting to keep part of the old Yankee Stadium intact at that new park, a facadist reminder to what once was. Or maybe all the mob contractors were too busy with other projects to get started on this one.
Yesterday, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau served an indictment against a dozen employees of a concrete inspection company, which the DA cited for improperly inspecting at least 102 buildings in the city in recent years. According to the Times' account, Testwell, of Ossinning, New York, was "the city's leading concrete-testing firm." AN picked up a copy of the indictment today, and how right the paper of record is. What is striking is the number and range of projects Testwell touched--or didn't, as the case may be. The Times notes three--the Freedom Tower, new Yankees Stadium, and the Gensler-designed Terminal 5 for Jet Blue--and adds that city officials believe all projects to be safe, though the quality of the concrete may be inferior and thus have a shorter lifespan. But the other 99 projects are not just faceless outer borough in-fill. 7 World Trade Center is there, as are a number of high profile projects, including Norman Foster's Hearst Building, Frank Gehry's Beekman Place tower, Polshek's Brooklyn Museum Expansion, FXFowle's One Bryant Park and 11 Times Square, KPF's Goldman Sachs HQ in Batter Park City, and the new Greek and Roman Gallery's at the Met by Beyer Blinder Belle. (The indictment [we've linked a PDF of the list below] lists the gallery as MoMA, but that can't be right. Not surprisingly, roughly half the projects are nondescript luxury condo projects--10 Barclay, 150 Lafeyette, 801 Amsterdam, Latitude Riverdale--not unlike the majority of construction work in the city during the recent boom. A number of government projects, big and small, local and federal, are listed, including Brooklyn Borough Hall, I.S. 303, Thurgood Marshall Federal Courthouse, as well as a number of collegiate buildings. Perhaps most unsettling, safe or otherwise, are the infrastructure projects the company worked on, such as the Second Avenue subway, New Rochelle MetroNorth station, and, scariest of all, the deck replacement of the Triborough Bridge. There are a few oddballs, too:the USS Intrepid's refurbished Pier 86, the Pier 90 cruise terminal, the massive Xanadu commercial complex at the Meadowlands. The Testwell 102