Posts tagged with "Engineering":

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Eavesdrop> Minnesota engineer speaks truth to power

“Can you be an engineer and speak out for reform?” That’s the question one civil engineer and blogger posed on his website, strongtowns.org, after a former American Society of Civil Engineers fellow filed a complaint with his state licensing board. According to the blogger, Charles Marohn, it was retaliation for a post critiquing Minnesota’s plan to spend much of its transportation budget on new construction instead of maintenance. http://youtu.be/P9BUyWVg1xI The impulse to build more and more was indicative of a much larger problem in the profession, and in U.S. urban planning. “[Our system is] one big Ponzi scheme attempting to prop up a rolling development extravaganza of strip malls, big box stores, fast food, and cheap residential housing,” wrote Marohn. Eaves certainly doesn’t want to incur the wrath of the Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying, Landscape Architecture, Geoscience & Interior Design (whew!), but bravo to Marohn for spilling some digital ink on the subject of smart growth that restores some meaning to the word “smart.”
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Iowa City picks Cecil Balmond for downtown art project

Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city's downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City's Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Balmond's work aims to enliven public spaces with forceful, architectural installations. His studio has strung shafts of light in Anchorage, Alaska, explored the Solid Void of sculpture with a forest of metal filigree in Chicago's Graham Foundation, and woven steel like rope to bridge a Philadelphia railway. The Chicago Transit Authority recently tapped Cecil Balmond Studio to contribute art for an overhaul of the 91-year-old Wilson Red Line station. An artist review panel consisting of Genus Landscape Architects Brett Douglas and Angie Coyer, and Iowa City staff Geoff Fruin and Marcia Bollinger selected U.K.–born Balmond over artists Vito Acconci and Hans Breder. Construction on the project is expected to begin next year.
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With Limited Land for Housing, Hong Kong Looks to Grow Underground

The housing problem in Hong Kong is critical. Studies estimate that the city of seven million will have to house another 600,000 people over the course of the next 30 years. With rapidly increasing urbanization rates, leading Chinese metropolises are speculating on fast and intelligent ways to manage population growth by creating additional housing within their existing borders. While some cities are growing taller and others are mulling developing rare and cherished park space, Hong Kong is taking a different approach. Officials and engineers have thought about something else: developing an extensive underground city. The plan calls for building a cross-harbor pedestrian corridor equipped with residences, shops, retail outlets, sports, and entertainment facilities located under Victoria Harbor. As the government is searching for any and all options that could create space for housing, it has already identified fifteen urban areas that could be used for underground development by the end of 2015. In their 2009-2010 Policy Agenda, the city’s Development Bureau released a new initiative to launch strategic plans to develop Hong Kong’s underground space in a sustainable way. The study, entitled Enhanced Use of Underground Space in Hong Kongexplores different techniques that would employ the city’s underground territory for additional housing and long term demographic and economic enhancement. Despite the ambitious nature of the plan, there remains many drawbacks and obstacles preventing its implementation. Experts argue that the development of Hong Kong's underground would be extremely costly, and much more so than surface projects as the costs of construction would be higher. Moreover, the laying out of such plans is extremely lengthy, and the need for housing in the city is pressing. Therefore, potentials of underground space development might not be the immediate answer to an urgent problem.   Still, others continue to push for bulldozing green space in favor of more development. Gordon Wu, chairman developer of Hopewell Holdings Ltd and Vice President of the Real East Developer’s Association, labels people’s attachment to city-parks as “stupid” and not something that Hong Kong should pride itself on. In line with Wu's statement, many city officials find parks to be extremely problematic as over 230,000 residents are on a waiting list for public housing. Another option being explored would be to take over the sea and to create man-made islands which would be in close proximity to the city's center and financial district. The Development Bureau estimates a need to extend the city's built environment by up to ten square miles in order to accommodate residential, commercial, and industrial facilities. This proposal remains opposed by residents who argue that such construction would have a negative impact on the value of water-front apartments, and would hinder the view of the city's famous and breathe-taking panorama. Environmental activists also object to the proposal as they are concerned with the safety and well being of dolphins and other marine animals.
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SHoP Project Engineer Sophie Pennetier at AN’s Facades+PERFORMANCE Chicago

AN’s distinctive Facades+PERFORMANCE conference in Chicago provides participants the exclusive opportunity to engage in in-depth dialogue with frontrunners in the architecture, fabrication, and engineering industries. On October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology, workshop leaders such as Sophie Pennetier, Project Engineer at SHoP, will lead intimate discussions conducive to innovation and creative problem-solving. Topics including bent glass, designing for wood fabrication in complex geometries, and integrating performance are on the lineup. Leading a discussion focused on new and existing methods for designing and using cold formed, heat molded, or otherwise double-curved glass, Pennetier, along with Beatriz Fernandez of Cricursa and Franklin Lancaster of Eckersley O’Callaghan, will present real-world case studies. A structural engineer with five years of experience in design, detailing, and construction in complex structures, she specializes in non-conventional structures and envelope systems. Before joining SHoP Construction this year where she has worked on modular construction projects, she worked as a structural engineer at Guy Nordenson and Associates (GNA) in New York, and prior to that as a structural engineer at RFR Consulting in Paris, where she contributed to groundbreaking UHPC curtain wall system development with the Liquid Wall project. As a member of the ASCE-AEI Curtain Wall Committee and the ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, she contributes to the development of US structural glass standards. Pennetier has earned a Masters in Mechanics of Materials and Structures at Polytechnic School EPF in Paris and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Polytechnic School in Montreal.

Feasibility is the Essence of Design

This innovative British firm is on the shortlist for the 2010 Stirling Prize. The building they're brainstorming is the firm's first U.S. commission. The site is somewhere on Cooper Square. Morphosis is the architect of record. Their work is the focus of a new book, Feasibility: The New Polemic (The Too Little Too Late Press, 2009).
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Up, Up, and Abu Dhabi!

When I was out in LA at Postopolis!, one of the most interesting and memorable talks I heard was Christopher Hawthorne's, on the chilling, almost creepy, effect the recession has had on the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai. While he still hasn't written up his version of his trip--and we wish he would, because the talk was so interesting--the basic gist was that construction had all but stopped in Dubai, and to some degree in Abu Dhabi (to say nothing of New York and LA), because the spigot of liquidity--money had dried up with the collapse of the financial system. He termed it Ponzi-scheme urbanism. Well, it seems some things are still moving out in the wild, sandy yonder, as RMJM's Princeton office (formerly Hillier) just passed along the following impressive photo of its Capital Gate tower passing the half-way mark. According to the firm, the 525-foot, 35 story hotel--future home of Hyatt Abu Dhabi--will be the leaningest building in the world, with an 18-degree cant, surpassing the Tower of Pisa's 14-degree bend. RMJM says reaching the halfway point is a touchstone because of the building's structural technicality. Simon Horgan, CEO of client Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, put it thusly in a press release:
Capital Gate is not about being the biggest or the tallest, it is about advanced technical ingenuity and aesthetic splendor. This is one of the most challenging buildings under construction in the world at the moment but due to the partnership between ADNEC, RMJM and all contractors on the project, ground breaking solutions are being designed on a daily basis.
To quote LL Cool J, don't call it a come back... Abu Dhabi'll be here for years to come.
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Up, Up, & Away

No, we're not talking about the progress on Tower 1, though that is impressive. We're talking about news of the building's new, fastest-in-the-hemisphere elevators. Call it jealousy: We've been having horrible problems lately at A/N HQ with the elevator. First, it was grinding and creaking. Then it was getting stuck between floors. They say it's fixed but we're still taking the stairs. Can we be blamed for looking longingly to the south from 21 Murray Street after this ecstatic report from tomorrow's Times:
Add one more ear-popping superlative to the structural distinctions at 1 World Trade Center. On opening in 2013, it will have the five fastest elevators in the Western Hemisphere, according to the company that will make them. These express cars, serving the restaurant and observatory, will reach a top speed of 2,000 feet a minute, meaning that a trip to the top of the city’s tallest building will take less than three-quarters of a minute. To put that speed in perspective, it is 25 percent faster than the express elevators that served the twin towers — which seemed plenty quick enough, once you had negotiated the long waiting line.
Perhaps we've been rendered paranoid, but what happens when you get stuck on a super elevator? Are you super screwed?