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Manim8/Blendswap, TheStranger/Blendswap
And no amount of data or complex modeling will rectify the building industry’s staggering impact on the environment. Design culture itself needs to change.

For the past eight years, I’ve spent every day of my professional life enabling an industry that is responsible for nearly 40% of global climate emissions. I don’t work for an oil or gas company. I don’t work for an airline. I’m an architect.

The environmental impacts of the built environment are staggering. Although it’s become mainstream to discuss energy efficiency and advocate for minimizing those impacts, architects, engineers, and planners have yet to truly reckon with the magnitude and consequences of everyday design decisions. Not only do we burn fossil fuels to heat and cool most buildings, but construction itself is responsible for plenty of global emissions. Construction requires massive amounts of concrete, steel, aluminum, and glass—all of which are carbon-intensive materials. Their emissions extend up and down the supply chain, crossing property boundaries, economic sectors, and markets. While architects are not fully responsible for steel manufacturing or concrete production per se, there is a direct line from the material specifications that architects write to the steel mills of China, the coal mines of Appalachia, the brick kilns of India, or clear-cut forests in the Pacific Northwest or the Amazon.

It is time for the design community to come to terms with carbon and climate change—both the reality of our shared climate emergency and the very personal implications of the building industry’s role in perpetuating it. Only then can we do the hard work of connecting our climate concern with our day-to-day actions, transforming guilt into collective change.

Broadly speaking, there are two ways of measuring the emissions caused by buildings: operational carbon (the emissions associated with energy used to operate a building) and embodied carbon (the emissions associated with materials and construction processes throughout the whole life cycle of a building).

Programs such as LEED, Passive House, and the Living Building Challenge focus on decreasing the former—operational carbon. This is a laudable goal; after all, building operations account for 28% of global carbon emissions, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings through widespread electrification and through decarbonization of the energy grid is essential.

However, we’ve come to recognize that it is not enough for architects and engineers to focus solely on operational carbon. For decades, we have been ignoring the role of embodied emissions in global carbon budgets.

Embodied carbon from building materials and construction currently represents at least 11% of global carbon emissions, much of which can be attributed to just three materials: concrete, iron, and steel. However, that seemingly small slice of the full carbon pie can be misleading. Global construction is proceeding at an incredible pace—with roughly 6.13 billion square feet of construction each year and global building stock expected to double in the next 30 years. When we look at new buildings anticipated to be built between now and 2050, embodied carbon, also known as “upfront carbon” because it is released before a building is even occupied, is projected to account for nearly half of total new construction emissions. For practicing architects, engineers, policymakers, and anyone who cares about climate strategy, this should give us pause.

In 2018, a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), called Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, asked two pressing questions: How can the global community reach the 1.5ºC target laid out by the Paris Agreement, and what happens if we fail? The report has two major takeaways. First, it is still possible to meet our climate targets, but only with immediate and unprecedented action. Second, the world presented if we fail to meet this target, by even a modest-sounding half-degree, are bleak—widespread ecosystem destruction, financial instability, growing social inequity, conflict and unrest, the disappearance of landmasses and nations. The scenarios are so clearly articulated, the models so robust, and the science so well documented, that they have ignited new urgency to find pathways across all sectors to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and accelerate our progress towards a 1.5ºC pathway. Unfortunately, we are nowhere near meeting these targets. Last week, the UN Environment Program issued its annual
From stylish backyard dwellings to a sleek floating home

Whether it’s Kanye’s dome prototypes or Ikea’s plan to design residences for people with dementia, prefab housing of all stripes continued to make headlines in 2019. For our year-end roundup of the best prefabs, however, we’re highlighting the most impressive designs that are available to order.

You’ll notice that a few of these picks are intended as accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which have had quite a year, especially in California, where new laws are making it easier for single-family homes to add a backyard unit. As prefab construction is particularly well-suited for the job, we’ll surely be looking out for more sophisticated, ADU-friendly prefabs heading into 2020 and beyond.

A city-approved modern ADU

In an effort to incentivize more housing stock, the city of San Jose, California, recently pre-approved a backyard dwelling from Bay Area housing startup Abodu so that residents can buy and install one in as little as two weeks. The 500-square-foot house, designed by U.K. studio Koto, costs $199,000 and offers Scandinavian modern style with stark white walls, pale wood floors, and the option to add a curated furniture package.

A full-size algorithm-designed backyard dwelling

LA startup Cover first unveiled its tiny box of a prefab studio/office in 2017 with algorithm-driven design as its claim to fame. This year, the company made its offering more ADU-friendly by unveiling a full-on one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. The 436-square-foot, L-shaped design features an open-plan living and dining area, and a bedroom tucked into the back. The cost of design and build is $193,000.

Michael Young
Construction is moving along at 66 Hudson Boulevard, aka The Spiral, the eighth-tallest skyscraper under construction in New York City in YIMBY’s annual countdown. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, the massive commercial office tower is rapidly ascending toward its 1,031-foot-tall parapet over the Midtown neighborhood of Hudson Yards. Tishman Speyer is the developer, Turner Construction Company is the construction manager, and Banker Steel is in charge of fabricating the 66-story, $3.7 billion supertall.

Photos show the superstructure rising in pace with Norman Foster‘s 50 Hudson Yards across West 34th Street.

Both projects have risen at a substantial pace since going vertical earlier in the year, and it will be interesting to see which of the two supertalls will top out first. The Spiral currently appears to be roughly a quarter of the way to its summit as it ascends around the concrete core, which continues to precede the steelwork in formation. Work should accelerate further as each successive setback reduces the size of the floor plates.

There are several floors covered with white plastic sheets toward the end of the building along Tenth Avenue, likely to contain the spray of fireproofing material for the steel columns and beams. The fireproofing on the western half of the floors facing Bella Abzug Park is finished, and the metal clips to hold the curtain wall are already in place and awaiting the installation of the façade’s reflective glass panels. The signature spiraling form of the architectural design will become more noticeable once the envelope starts to climb all four sides.

The Spiral is expected to be finished around 2022.
Pendry Hotels & Resorts
Pendry Hotels & Resorts recently announced the first release of Pendry Residences West Hollywood by Montage Hotels & Resorts for purchase. Together with AECOM Capital, the investment adviser of global infrastructure firm AECOM, and Combined Properties, a full-service real estate firm, the Residences are scheduled to open in summer 2020.

Pendry Residences West Hollywood will be comprised of a limited collection of 40 private residences with prices starting from $3 million. It occupies a prime, walkable location on Sunset Boulevard, with spectacular views of nearby hills, downtown LA, and the vibrant cityscape.

The overall development is $500 million and consists of two adjacent buildings: one 12-story, 143,670-sq-ft hotel building with 149-room; and a separate 145,804 sq-ft building that houses the 40 luxury residences. There are also 400 below grade parking spots.

“In the heart of the new Sunset Strip, Pendry Residences West Hollywood promises to be unlike anything else in the city and deliver a new level of fully serviced living in modern Los Angeles,” said Warren Wachsberger, AECOM Capital partner and managing director in a press release.

The project is designed by architecture and interior design firm Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, and executed by Cuningham Group Architects, with interiors by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio. AECOM is serving as construction manager on the project through its AECOM Hunt business. Landscaping is by Lifescapes.

The development is located in a dense urban community, surrounded by three mid-rise hotels on Sunset Boulevard and a residential neighborhood on the south side.

“Due to the denseness of the area, the project is constrained by the amount of laydown available for deliveries and the project’s hours of operations are also limited in order to be sensitive to the adjacent residential neighborhood,” says Paul Giorgio, partner and executive vice president, AECOM Capital. “To minimize disruptions to our neighbors, we have used the project’s subterranean parking garage and piazza for staging and worked with the owner to host several outreaches with the community to communicate upcoming major construction milestones and lane closures.”

Giorgio says these outreaches were critical to gaining the city’s approval for the required lane closures for both tower crane dismantlements. “We have a full time delivery manager stationed at the gate to manage incoming deliveries and to not clog up surrounding streets,” adds Giorgio.

Pendry Residences are highlighted by contemporary architecture that cascades on a terraced site along Sunset Boulevard and Olive Drive. The residences feature generous floorplans - ranging from 2,900 to 6,000 sq-ft - flowing seamlessly to large private verandas. Select units include landscaped terraces of up to 3,400 sq-ft with private pools, spas, and outdoor kitchens.

The Residences include floor-to-ceiling windows, custom-designed kitchens, white oak floors, Poliform walk-in closets and dressing rooms. Each unit is accessed via a private elevator connecting directly to a private resident’s terrace and secured parking. Owner amenities include a private residents’ lobby, rooftop pool, fitness center, garden deck and boardroom. A residential lounge will feature a stocked bar and wine tasting room with private lockers. Other amenities include a multi-purpose live entertainment venue, screening room, bowling alley, Spa Pendry and a curated art collection.

The project is currently about 70 percent complete, with crews working on exterior framing and window walls, interior framing on the upper floors and finishes on the lower levels. Five of 10 elevators are underway.
Build Out Alliance
For years, construction workers have faced the risk of being ostracized, bullied or fired over their sexual orientation or gender identity. After a lengthy job search in 2008, Jackie Richter, who was transitioning from male to female at the time, says a concrete contractor who wanted to hire her said, “You’ve got the experience, you’ve got the knowledge, and you’d be a great part of our team … but leave your girl clothes home and come as a man.”

The same year, a successful architect, who wishes to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisals, said he was fired when the owners of his company monitored his texts and found out he was gay.

More recently, Guillermo Díaz-Fañas experienced microaggressions at a previous employer due to his perceived mannerisms, even though he wasn’t out as a gay man at the time. Things escalated to the point where unfounded rumors spread among his colleagues that he had AIDS, based solely on the suspicion of his sexual orientation. When he raised concerns to one of his supervisors, nothing happened. “That’s when I understood that it was the leaders who had the problem with me,” he says.

Today, all three have overcome these negative experiences and work to show how inclusivity benefits the industry. Richter owns two successful construction companies in the Chicago area. The architect started his own practice and Díaz-Fañas founded Queer Advocacy and Knowledge Exchange (Qu-AKE), one of the first construction industry groups in the U.S. for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) workers. He also moved to a more inclusive workplace, at WSP, where he thrives as an award-winning senior technical principal.
A European hotel brand entering the South Florida market broke ground on one of its three forthcoming locations.

And more may be coming.

The Netherlands-based citizenM broke ground on Thursday at the Miami Worldcenter. The 128,000-square-foot hotel at 700 NE Second Ave. will rise up to 12 stories with 351 rooms. It will cost more than $100 million to build, said Craig Kinnon, citizenM project director.

The company will have two other hotels in the Magic City, one at the former Perricone’s restaurant in Brickell and another near the Lincoln Road Mall.

The hotel brand made its U.S. debut in New York in 2014.

“Who’s to say in time we won’t be in Wynwood?” Kinnon said about the possibility of future expansions in Miami.

The multiple spaces in Miami will allow guests to select a spot near the amenities they most want to visit, said Kinnon. “Do I want to go to the beach? Do I want to be near the buzz? Am I coming for business?”

The hotel has three other locations in New York and Boston. It will open another in Seattle in 2020, and break ground on other sites in Chicago and Washington, rounding out its U.S. locations to nine offerings.

The Miami Worldcenter location will be completed in mid-summer 2021, according to the project’s general contractor Suffolk Construction’s Project Executive Alex Suarez.

The other two citizenM projects will also be completed in 2021, said Kinnon.

citizenM is the first of three planned hotels to break ground at the $4 billion mixed-use project Miami Worldcenter spanning 27 acres. A 220-room hotel and 240 condo-hotel Legacy Hotel & Residences is in the pipeline, according to the Next Miami. A 1,700-room Marriott Marquis hotel is also planned.

The former will cater to the luxury market and the latter to the business traveler, said Miami Worldcenter Associates Managing Partner Nitin Motwani.

citizenM will cater to a wide demographic with more affordable pricing, said Motwani. The price range hasn’t been set, according to Kinnon, but prices at other citizenM locations range from the mid-$200s up to the mid-$400s.

Building a city within a city, said Motwani, it’s important to cater to as many demographics as possible.

And more lodges may be coming to Miami Worldcenter.

“Are more hotels in the pipeline? Time will tell,” he said.

Other hospitality brands are also entering or expanding in the market with spots near Downtown Miami, including Virgin Hotels and AC Hotel by Marriott alongside Element by Westin.

“It’s exciting the vibrancy in downtown with the Design District, Wynwood and Edgewater. I’m excited about the different hotel brands coming into Miami,” said Wendy Kallergis, president and CEO of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association.
Studio 216
Wright Runstad is about to jump north across Spring Boulevard. The planned Phase III of its 36-acre mixed-use Spring District project effectively began last month, with the signing of another lease agreement with Facebook.

The lease is for the planned Block 6 office building, which also just entered design review with the city of Bellevue. It’s addressed at 1646 123rd Ave. N.E., on the north side of Northeast Spring Boulevard, which is under construction.

Wright Runstad’s website confirms that Facebook has already leased Block 16 and Block 24, which are now under construction on the south side of Spring. Those two buildings will have about 515,000 square feet of offices (plus a little retail); Block 6 will add another 320,000 square feet or so.

All three buildings are designed by NBBJ. Turner Construction is building both Block 16, which is expected to open early next year, and Block 24, which could open in early 2021.

The Block 6 lease was signed in mid-October and recorded late that month. It’s for 15 years, with 12 years of subsequent renewal options. And there’s a right of first opportunity to buy the building if Wright Runstad opts to sell. The Block 16 and 24 leases have similar terms.

Broderick Group is Wright Runstad’s broker for all the office space; its third quarter Eastside report indicates that Block 6 could open in 2022. Wright Runstad already has its master use permit, also with NBBJ, for the whole project, so Block 6 design review won’t take that long.

In general, Phase I at the Spring District was the apartment component on its south end, at Northeast 12th Street. AMLI Residential and Security Properties have developed multiple buildings with almost 800 units. Retail and a child care center are also included.

North of that, Phase II includes Block 16, Block 24, REI’s headquarters (set to open next year), the GIX building (already open), the small creative office/brewpub building (soon), ancillary structures and park.

Ahead, Phase III could total around 1.5 million square feet of offices (including Block 6), along with apartments, a small retail/bike-parking pavilion, a hotel and more retail. (The exact mix and numbers are subject to change.)

The entire Spring District is thought to be a $2.3 billion project, with JPMorgan and Shorenstein Properties among its backers.
AI SpaceFactory/Plomp
Using concrete and giant printers, home building may one day be much faster and cheaper.

In a forested patch of Garrison, N.Y., on the Hudson River, a giant robotic arm looms over a platform. Later this month, the platform will start to rotate while the arm pumps out a gooey concoction of basalt and biopolymers. Round it will go, receiving layer upon layer, until the arm, like a demonic pastry chef, has extruded an entire egg-shaped house.

This 24-foot-high, 500-square-foot, two-story construction will have a sleeping pod, a bathroom with a shower, a study area and other amenities you might expect from a cool short-term rental. In fact, it will be a cool short-term rental, as well as a demonstration of the future of home building.

The project, called TERA, is one of the latest experiments in 3D-printed houses. Innovators in this arena are seeking to reduce the expense, environmental impact and hazards of construction methods that have remained fundamentally unchanged for more than a thousand years. They are adapting a now-commonplace manufacturing technique in which a computer-controlled dispenser spews a malleable material that hardens into the shape of a pipe fitting, a chair or an internal organ — or, one day, a whole inhabitable building, with its myriad components and systems robotically extruded.

Architects and engineers are edging closer to this goal, by printing portions of houses and assembling or finishing them conventionally. (In TERA’s case the exterior shell will be printed on site and a separate birch plywood interior inserted.) They are testing different structural, surface and insulation materials and struggling to clear one of the highest bars in this technological obstacle course: the 3D-printed roof. (It’s a problem of weight. For TERA, the 3D-printed roof is an easily supported half-inch-thick dome.)

And many of these pioneers have their heads in the clouds.

TERA, which was designed by AI SpaceFactory, a Manhattan architectural studio, evolved from a prototype Martian habitat called MARSHA that won a NASA competition in May. (You can see details at the exhibition “Moving to Mars,” through Feb. 23 at the Design Museum in London.) MARSHA was destroyed as a final test of its stability — NASA wanted to see how much force it would take to crush it. AI SpaceFactory is recycling the crushed material in TERA to demonstrate its commitment to zero waste.

Mars’s atmosphere, about 100 times thinner than Earth’s, determined the habitat’s tubby shape: As pressure within the structure is equalized, the building envelope bulges. Because the cost of shipping construction materials more than 30 million miles is prohibitive, the design makes use of volcanic basalt rock, which exists on Mars, below a layer of dust. The vision is of an autonomous robot that collects, processes and prints what it finds.

Designing for extreme conditions in space helps solve terrestrial problems, noted David Malott, AI SpaceFactory’s co-founder and chief executive. The strategy of building homes on site with hyperlocal materials could have tremendous environmental benefits for our own planet. “It’s a high-tech way of going back to the Stone Age,” he said.

Last year, in a widely publicized collaboration with the San Francisco-based housing nonprofit New Story, ICON introduced a 350-square-foot house in East Austin that has a conventional flat roof with standard framing lumber. The structure was printed with a machine called Vulcan I using a proprietary concrete-like material called Lavacrete. Construction took a total of 47 hours over several days and cost $10,000 for the printed elements.

In May, ICON and New Story again made news with their plans for a village of about 50 printed houses for a poor community in an undisclosed location in semirural Latin America. (An ICON representative recently declined to identify the site out of concern for the privacy of the families who will be chosen to occupy the houses, which are still awaiting construction.)

Now ICON is working with the nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes on Phase 2 of Community First! Village, a 51-acre development that accommodates former members of Austin’s chronically homeless population in RVs, tiny houses and, soon, several 3D-printed cottages. In September, ICON produced the first printed building for the complex, a 500-square-foot welcome center, in a total of 27 hours over several days. The job was done with a Vulcan II, ICON’s next-generatio
Topping Out
On the evening of Thursday, November 7th the following projects were announced and celebrated by over 350 attendees from the A/E/C community of the greater Dallas / Fort Worth area.


Park District

Submitted By:
Balfour Beatty

Team Members:
Owner: Trammell Crow Company
General Contractor: Balfour Beatty
Owner’s Representative: CBRE
Architect: HKS
Landscape Architect: The Office of James Burnett
Mechanical Engineer: Blum Consulting Engineers
Structural Engineer: Brockette Davis Drake
Consulting Engineer: Purdy-McGuire
Consulting Engineer: Halff Associates
Geotechnical Engineer: Rone Engineering
Curtainwall Consultant: Curtainwall Design Consultants
B2 Architecture + Design


Cambria Dallas

Submitted By:
Merriman Anderson /Architects, Inc.

Team Members:
Owner/Developer: Kirtland Realty
General Contractor: Andres Construction
Architect/Interior Designer: Merriman Anderson Architects
Structural Engineer: JQ Engineering
Civil Engineer: JQ Engineering
MEP Engineer: JJA
Landscape Architect: LaTerra Studio
ADA/TAS Review & Inspection: BDA Accessibility
Construction Manager: Todd Interests
Exterior Lighting: BHB
IT/Telecom: Dtech
Food Service: Bruce Abraham Design
Hotel Operator: Fillmore Hospitality

​​Dallas Fire Station 6

Submitted By:
DSGN Associates, Inc.

Team Members:
Owner: City of Dallas - Dallas Fire Department, Dallas Fire-Rescue
General Contractor: Core Construction
Architect: DSGN Associates, Inc
Landscape Architect: MESA Design Group
MEP Engineer: Purdy McGuire
Structural Engineer: JQ Engineering
Civil Engineer: JQ Engineering
Commissioning: Teliosity
Accessibility: Abadi Access

Frost Tower Fort Worth

Submitted By:
Bennett Benner Partners

Team Members:
General Contractor: Balfour Beatty Construction
Owner: Anthracite Realty Partners, LLC
Architect: Bennett Benner Partners
Interior Design: Bennett Benner Partners
MEP Engineering: Summit Consultants, Inc.
Civil Engineer: Dunaway Associates
Structural Engineer: L.A. Fuess Partners, Inc.

JPMorgan Chase Regional Hub

Submitted By:
HKS & ​The Beck Group

Team Members:
Developer: KDC
Owner: JPMorgan Chase, Inc.
Principal in Charge: HKS
Project Manager: HKS
Project Designer Principal in Charge Interiors: HKS
Marketing Manager: HKS
Civil Engineering & Land Planner: Kimley + Horn & Associates, Inc.
Interior Designer: HKS
Landscape Architect: Kimley Horn
Construction Manager/General Contractor: Beck
Structural Engineer: L.A. Fuess Partners
Lighting Design: CD+M
Architect: HKS
MEP Engineer: Syska Hennessey

Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple
Monumental Tower

Submitted By:
Epsilon Architecture

Team Members:
Owner: Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple
Architect: Epsilon Architecture, Inc.
Chief Artisan and Sculptor: Thangam Subramaniam
Construction Manager: Epsilon Master Builders, Inc.
Structural Engineer: Charles Gojer & Associates
Concrete Contractors: ACS Contractors
Lighting Protection: Bonded Lightning Protection Systems, Ltd
Electrical Contractors: George-McKenna Electrical Contractors
Geotech & Construction Materials Testing: Alpha Testing

North Texas Food Bank - Perot Family Campus

Submitted By:
GSR Andrade Architects

Team Members:
Owner: NTFB Perot Family Campus
Architect: GSR Andrade Architects
Interior Design: GSR Andrade Architects
Developer: Hillwood Development
General Contractor: Hillwood Construction Services
Civil Engineer: Kimley-Horn
Structural Engineer: Engineering Analysts, Inc.
Mechanical Engineer: Venture Mechanical
Electrical Engineer: Fox Electric
Plumbing: Howard Kane Plumbing Company, Inc.
Accessibility Specialist: Abadi Accessibility
Furniture Provider: OFS Brands
Photography: Tracy Allyn Photography
Landscape Architect: Belle Firma

Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center

Submitted By:
HKS & The Beck Group

Team Members:
Owner/Developer: Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children
Principal in Charge: HKS
Project Manager: HKS
Project Designer: HKS
Project Designer/Medical Planner: HKS
Landscape Architect: T
Marcos Guiponi
Designed to welcome the outdoors in, two modular and minimalist houses provide a blissful escape in the Uruguayan countryside.

A few years after VivoTripodi completed a prefabricated weekend home for a family in rural Uruguay, the clients called on the Montevideo-based architects once more to create two new residences for visiting friends and family. Like the main house, the minimalist dwellings keep the focus on the landscape.

The architects drew design inspiration from the main home’s boxy form and all-timber palette to create two modular additions strategically placed to maintain sight lines and minimize landscape impact. As with the main house, prefabricated construction provided numerous advantages given the remote location and the desire to minimize waste.

"The main design goal was to create complete immersion in nature," explain architects Bernardo Vivo and Guzmán Trípodi of VivoTripodi. "The interior feels as if you were outside. To wake up in the freezing winter and see the sun come out of the horizon, the fog dissipating in the cold grass, but to do it all in great comfort inside the shelter while drinking a hot coffee…it’s definitely a unique experience."

Each guest house spans 518 square feet and comprises three main spaces with an open-plan layout: a combined living/dining/kitchen area, a bathroom to the side, and two bedrooms on either end of the building.

"The ground had some variation, and we wanted that to remain," note the architects of their site-sensitive approach. "We didn’t touch the ground’s natural curve, to emphasize the fact that we like to respect the natural state of things."

The interiors are lined with pine planks, each of which is 13 centimeters wide—a measurement that determined the interior dimensions. "We had to give specific details so that when the carpenters started working on the interiors, the wood would barely have any modifications to its sizing," explain the architects. "Our precision determined the exact amount of wood needed to minimize waste and unused cuts."

"To create a project with nature as its main factor is amazing," say Vivo and Trípodi. The architects developed their site-specific designs over multiple visits to the site to study how the landscape changed throughout the seasons and time of day. "We hope to get more chances to show our outdoor fanaticism."

Blaine Brownell explores emergent teleoperation and telerobotics technologies that could revolutionize the built environment.

Design practitioners have become familiar with an array of evolving technologies such as virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR), artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), building information modeling (BIM), and robotics. What we contemplate less often, however, is what happens when these technologies are combined.

Enter the world of teleoperation, which is the control of a machine or system from a physical distance. The concept of a remote-controlled machine is nothing new, but advances in AR and communication technologies are making teleoperability more sophisticated and commonplace. One ultimate goal of teleoperability is telepresence, which is commonly used to describe to videoconferencing, a passive audiovisual experience. But increasingly, it also pertains to remote manipulation. Telerobotics refers specifically to the remote operation of semi-autonomous robots. These approaches all involve a human–machine interface (HMI), which consists of “hardware and software that allow user inputs to be translated as signals for machines that, in turn, provide the required result to the user,” according to Techopedia. As one might guess, advances in HMI technology represent significant potential transformations in building design and construction.

Tokyo-based company SE4 has created a similar telerobotics system that overcomes network lag by using AI to accelerate robotic control. Combining VR and computer vision with AI and robotics, SE4's Semantic Control system can anticipate user choices relative to the robot’s environment. “We’ve created a framework for creating physical understanding of the world around the machines,” said SE4 CEO Lochlainn Wilson in a July interview with The Robot Report. “With semantic-style understanding, a robot in the environment can use its own sensors and interpret human instructions through VR.”

Developed for construction applications, the system can anticipate potential collisions between physical objects, or between objects and the site, as well as how to move objects precisely into place (like the “snap” function in drawing software). Semantic Control can also accommodate collaborative robots, or “cobots,” to build in a coordinated fashion. “With Semantic Control, we’re making an ecosystem where robots can coordinate together,” SE4 chief technology officer Pavel Savkin said in the same article. “The human says what to do, and the robot decides how.”

Eventually, machines may be let loose to construct buildings alongside humans. Despite the significant challenges robotics manufacturers have faced in creating machines that the mobility and agility of the human body, Waltham, Mass.–based BostonDynamics has made tremendous advances. Its Atlas humanoid robot, made of 3D-printed components for lightness, employs a compact hydraulic system with 28 independently powered joints. It can move up to a speed of 4.9 feet per second. Referring to BostonDynamics’ impressive feat, Phil Rader, University of Minnesota VR research fellow, tells ARCHITECT that “the day will come when robots can move freely around and using AI will be able to discern the real world conditions and make real-time decisions.” Rader, an architectural designer who researches VR and telerobotics technologies, imagines that future job sites will likely be populated by humans as well as humanoids, one working alongside the other. The construction robots might be fully autonomous, says Rader, or “it's possible that the robot worker is just being operated by a human from a remote location.”

The new brand covers flooring, light fixtures, kitchen and bath plumbing, and more.

Katerra has launched a new brand of building products, KOVA, focused around plumbing fixtures, hardware, and other finish materials. It is one of many new brands and products Katerra set to launch in 2019, including the KES energy system, KTAC HVAC system, Apollo construction software platform, and Katerra-brand windows and bathroom kits.

According to the manufacturer, the KOVA line is built on a balance of design, quality, and value. Through Katerra’s direct sourcing model, KOVA customers can source multiple products from one partner and gain access the company’s aggregated purchasing power.

“As designers and builders specify and order their products, they may go through a lot of different partners for their plumbing, lighting, cabinets, countertops, etc.,” says Trevor Schick, head of the KOVA materials business. “KOVA is a one-stop shop where we provide all of these materials at a premium quality and great design, but at a better value and with a quicker turnaround. So, as a developer is looking at what they can do to drive cost down on a project, KOVA is now one of the levers they can pull.”

KOVA’s initial offering of home fixtures and finishing products includes flooring, light fixtures, door and cabinetry hardware, kitchen and bath plumbing fixtures, digital thermostats, and window coverings and accessories. The products are available in two series, KOVA and KOVA Select. All plumbing fixtures, hardware and accessories are available in a polished chrome or satin nickel finish; KOVA Select fixtures are also available in matte black.

All KOVA products are designed to meet high environmental and quality standards, including Cal Green certification across all kitchen and bath faucets and showerheads. kovaproducts.com
Billed as the “Factory of the Future,” BIG’s latest design for the San Pellegrino production plant at San Pellegrino Terme, Italy, gives the company even more reason to celebrate its 120th anniversary. A groundbreaking ceremony for the $100-million campus took place on September 27, alongside BIG releasing a batch of new views of the project.

“Today we lay the first stone of the future factory that will officially launch us toward the future,” said Frederico Sarzi Baga, managing director of the Sanpellegrino Group. “The philosophy with which the new structure is created best represents the values of the brand and the commitment of the ‘Made in Italy’ ambassador company.”

IG’s design provides views of the Alps of Bergamo, with clean, modern lines offsetting the rugged natural landscape—a perfect metaphor for the blend of old and new that makes up the company, which has bottled its mineral water at the source since 1899. BIG’s approach imitates classical Italian architecture, with hints of inspiration from local vernacular motifs—exposed concrete arches and glass surfaces forming arcades and piazza-style spaces for gathering. The implementation of a new road system and access bridge will reduce the local area’s traffic congestion by tourists and workers alike, combined with a number of initiatives aimed at bolstering the company’s dedication to sustainability.

“Like the mineral water itself, the new San Pellegrino Factory will appear to spring from its natural source, rather than imposing a new identity on the existing complex, creating a seamless continuity between the environment of production and consumption, and preparation and enjoyment,” said Bjarke Ingels in a statement about the groundbreaking.

The factory will include 30,000 square feet of new production space to accommodate the anticipated increase in demand in the near future. Other features include renovated offices and changing rooms, a new cafeteria, a fitness center, and of course, exhibition-style areas to accommodate tourists.

The project, which presents a radical transformation of San Pellegrino Terme and the surrounding area, is scheduled to be completed by 2022. BIG was first awarded the sprawling 4.3-acre project back in 2017, and it looks like the design has remained consistent since then.
In a move that stunned transportation planners around the country, Denver International Airport terminated the contractor team working on a $650-million terminal renovation. The move also ended the airport’s $1.8-billion public-private partnership with Great Hall Partners, a consortium led by Ferrovial Airports, with partners Saunders/JLC Infrastructure.

The contractors released documents showing that the renovation, had GHP stayed on the job, would have cost more than $1 billion. That’s $288 million more than the contract, plus a $120-million contingency. Airport officials insist the project can be done for the original budget.

“This was not a decision arrived at lightly,” said DEN CEO Kim Day in an Aug. 13 news conference announcing the firing. “We are very far apart in cost and schedule and our values.” The termination is effective Nov. 12.

The decision also will cost the airport millions in termination fees and create substantial delays in completing the work. The project is only in the first of three phases, with most of the demolition done, after 13 months of work. The scope includes relocating TSA security positions to the north end of the terminal, consolidating unused ticket counters and adding more food and retail concessions, among other upgrades.

The two sides reached an impasse after months of squabbling. GHP cites multiple change orders, micromanagement by airport officials, and a delay to test concerns about existing weak concrete in the terminal (ENR 3/4-11 p. 5). After three months of testing last winter, the concrete was declared strong enough for construction to proceed. Meanwhile, airport officials allege multiple safety violations and contend that the contracting team was slow to respond to requests for information about cost and schedule. “GHP didn’t secure all of their permits, and we didn’t know how far behind on permits they were,” airport spokesperson Stacey Stegman told ENR. “So we said, ‘If this is happening now in phase one, what would phases two and three be like?’ ”

GHP, which has declined all requests for interviews, responded to the firing in a statement: “We are disappointed with DEN’s decision and strongly disagree with their characterizations of how we have arrived at this point. …The reality is that the project’s time and cost overruns are a direct result of the discovery of weak concrete in some areas of the terminal, which DEN did not disclose to GHP at the outset of the project, and more than 20 large-scale, badly timed and unnecessary change directives issued by DEN to the design they had previously approved.”

The P3 contract, the largest in Denver history, would have extended for 34 years, including four years of construction and 30 years of operations, with GHP building and paying for all improvements and managing the terminal’s concessions after completion. Revenue from concessions would have been split, with 20% going to GHP and 80% to DEN.

P3s Under Scrutiny
“This [contract termination] may launch a period of introspection among airport professionals,” says Robert Alfert, a partner with consultant Nelson Mullins. “It opens up a Pandora’s box. You will see a lot of re-evaluation all over the country where airport P3s are concerned.”

Some insiders fault a cumbersome contract—more than 15,000 pages long—and incompatible teams. “A P3 was not the right way to go from the beginning,” says a former airport employee, who requested anonymity. “In a P3, you need to get out of the way, and airport management insisted on being involved in every detail. Plus, GHP said they could complete the first phase in only 11 months. That was totally unrealistic.”

“It wasn’t the P3,” Stegman insists. “They just weren’t the right partner for us.”

Still, the airport says it plans to finish the project—now with an unspecified completion date—using traditional contracting methods and direct airport oversight, perhaps turning to firms already under contract to complete phase one next spring, and then use a procurement process for the remaining work. Officials say terminal project delays will not affect a concurrent $1.6-billion gate expansion project. The P3 exit negotiations could take months, and cost “a minimum of $200 million,” Stegman says. That price could go even higher, since the airport opted to terminate the c
Benjamin Minnick
When finished in August 2020, the 850-foot-tall building will be the city's second-tallest skyscraper.

Workers on Thursday raised the final steel beam into place atop the 58-story Rainier Square tower at Fifth Avenue and Union Street in downtown Seattle.

A news release from developer Wright Runstad & Co. says ironworkers and other tradespeople have put in 500,000 hours of labor so far on the $570 million project. When finished in August 2020, the 850-foot-tall building will be the city's second-tallest skyscraper, below the 933-foot-tall Columbia Center.

Rainier Square will have 722,000 square feet of office space, 191 luxury apartments on floors 39 through 58, nearly 80,000 square feet of retail space and a seven-level underground parking garage. Apartments will be available in one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts, with penthouse units on the top.

Runstad says it will be one of the largest mixed-use buildings in the country, at 1.17 million square feet.

Amazon leased all of the project's office space, but earlier this year decided to sublease instead of occupy it. Much of the retail space will be taken by a 20,000-square-foot PCC Community Market and an Equinox fitness club. Runstad says additional tenants will be announced closer to opening.

Apartment marketing is expected to start early next year.

The project is on the north half of the block, where the old Rainier Square shopping center once stood. The building's east facade slopes up to its 40th floor.

Structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates designed a unique concrete-filled composite plate sheer wall core for the building. The system allowed workers to assemble two floors per week. MKA says the system uses two steel plates connected by steel cross ties that are then filled with high-strength concrete — there's no rebar.

Lease Crutcher Lewis is the general contractor and NBBJ is the architect.

Runstad has an 80-year ground lease on the site from owner University of Washington.

Most of the project's financing is coming from a U.S. pension fund advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management.
Hangar Technology
Brick & Mortar Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm founded in 2015, has launched a $97.2 million fund to invest in construction technology, another sign that stakeholders are eager to invest money into construction technology after a more than $6 billion infusion in the sector last year.

The firm, led by Darren Bechtel, a scion of Bechtel Corp., raised the money from construction-related companies such as Autodesk, CEMEX, Ferguson Ventures and others. Darren Bechtel, who has found success raising money in the real estate industry, has a 10% stake in the fund.

As the industry shifts towards incorporating technology into more projects, the fund is one of the first to specifically focus on helping digitize construction through investments in emerging technology.

Brick & Mortar Ventures’ new fund could help address slow technology adoption by targeting and investing in construction tech startups, focusing on seed and Series A funding rounds, officials said. The fund raised the initial $50 million in late 2017 and the remainder in January, according to an announcement this week.

With support from a company like Bechtel, which had $16.8 billion in revenue last year, the fund may have an edge in identifying and investing in tech startups. Bechtel has been ranked No. 1 on Engineering News-Record’s 2019 Top 400 Contractors list for the past two decades. The fund previously invested in PlanGrid, BuildZoom, BuildingConnected and Rhumbix.

These construction startups are defined by Brick & Mortar as “emerging companies developing software and hardware for the industries of architecture, engineering, construction and facilities management.” As momentum for construction tech grows alongside initiatives like Brick & Mortar, investors will be looking at ways to best capitalize on construction technology startups.

With deals like Oracle’s 2017 acquisition of Aconex Ltd. for $1.2 billion marking an increased industry investment into technology, Darren Bechtel reportedly said there is “a sense of urgency” for investor markets.

The continued labor shortage and rising costs of construction may also open companies up to investing in new technology that can fill those persistent gaps. Automation and modular construction have both gained popularity in the industry, with a report finding that modular construction can deliver projects up to 50% faster.

“Eventually, as more capital comes to the scene and more people see the potential in the space, we’ll see an increase in competition and valuations,” Darren Bechtel told Crunchbase News. “For now, I believe we’re still in the early innings and we’re excited about the opportunities and value we can get as early-stage investors.”

Though the sector is prone to consolidation and burnout among a competitive market, some investors realize large returns. Investment firm Bee Partners, for instance, made seven times its original investment on its $275 million sale of BuildingConnected to Autodesk last year.
Laurian Ghinitoiu
The Opus in Dubai by Zaha Hadid Architects, a mixed-use building formed of conjoined towers with a irregular void in the middle, is almost ready to open.

Set in the Burj Khalifa district, the Opus will be Dubai's only building which has both the interior and exterior designed by the late Zaha Hadid, who founded Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA).

Hotel interiors for the ME Dubai hotel are currently being fitted out, for the scheduled opening in 2020. The 20-storey development from Omniyat will also house 12 restaurants and a rooftop bar, as well as office spaces.

Two glazed adjacent 100-metre-high towers form a cube shape, with a curving eight-storey void that appears as if it has been carved from its centre.

These towers are connected by a four-storey atrium ground level and an asymmetric sky-bridge that is 38-metres wide and three storeys tall, suspended 71 metres from the ground.

"The design conveys the remarkably inventive quality of ZHA's work," said Mahdi Amjad, CEO of Omniyat.

"[It] expresses a sculptural sensibility that reinvents the balance between solid and void, opaque and transparent, interior and exterior."

The designs were first unveiled in 2007 by Hadid, who died in 2016. It was originally due to complete in 2018, but was pushed back due to construction delays.

Designs for the Opus' interiors, which were unveiled at the 2014 London Design Festival, include sculptural balconies, angular beds, and a sculpture of dangling glass balls in the lobby.

The Opus will be located near the Burj Khalifa, the 828-metre-high supertall skyscraper designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill that remains unchallenged for the title of the world's tallest building.

ZHA recently completed another hotel with a curving void, the Morpheus in Macau. Three holes punctuate the middle of the Morpheus, which uses an innovative exoskeleton construction so that the hotel interiors remain uncluttered by supporting walls or columns.
Weldon Brewster
Fleet of concrete trucks mobilized for near-record placement

The 18.5-hour construction of the 13,478-cu-yd mat for the $1-billion Grand mixed-use development in Los Angeles ranks as the second largest continuous casting of a foundation in Los Angeles, after the Wilshire Grand’s, which, at 19.5 hours, set a Guinness World Record in 2014.

At 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 28, at a rate of approximately 1,000 cu yds per hour, 140 workers from the Conco Cos. began the job, which required 1,348 truck trips to six batch plants, for the mat, which contains 13,478 cu yd of concrete. The mat will support a 39-story tower.

“Due to precise and complicated logistics, the mat’s coordination started four months prior to the actual pour,” says Barry Widen, vice president of design and construction for developer Related Cos.

The mat is 39,303 sq ft with a thickness that varies from 6 ft to 12 ft. The concrete truck fleet traveled eight times between the site and six batch plants. With seven of eight concrete truck pumps staged on streets, Related coordinated with Los Angeles City Council District 14, and the city’s Dept. of Transportation and Bureau of Engineering’s Major Transit and Transportation Construction Traffic Management Committee (TCTMC) to minimize the impact to traffic, which required complete closures of Olive Street and 2nd Street and directional closures on Grand Avenue and 1st Street.

In February, Related and partner CORE USA broke ground on the project, designed by Gehry Partners and located across the street from Gehry’s Disney Concert Hall. The project is expected to create 10,000 new jobs and $1.3 billion in one-time total economic output for Los Angeles County. The Grand will include 176,000 sq feet of retail and a hotel in 20-story second tower. Related expects the second mat will be cast this month.

AECOM is the Grand’s construction manager and DCI Engineers is the project’s structural engineer.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that there were 1,348 truck trips required for this concrete placement. The project team has not specified the number of trucks utilized.
Skender believes it can shave time and costs off the standard construction process, resulting in more affordable housing.

Skender, an established, family-owned builder in Chicago, is making a serious play in a sector associated with young startups: modular construction. The company is building steel-structured three-flats, a quintessential Chicago housing type that consists of three apartments stacked on top of each other in the footprint of a large house. It believes it can deliver them faster and at lower cost at its new factory than by using standard methods of construction.

Skender’s 100,000-square-foot factory on the Southwest Side, which began production in late May, contains four bays with hulking gantry cranes overhead, as well as welding jig tables that are dozens of feet long. But don’t look to be wowed by sci-fi feats of robotic automation—there’s not a robot in sight (yet). Instead, the technology is aimed at seamless coordination.

Spaced at every few columns, the company will install media screens that workers will use to check off each step in the building process. “Every step and instruction in basically built into an app,” said Stacy Scopano, Skender’s chief technology officer. “If each crew gets off-sync, they can project [it] onto the TV, show the drawings, [and] float around the model. And over time, as we’re developing and modernizing these platforms, that’ll be how we’re watching the productivity of the install.”

Even with humans and not robots doing the work, the company is confident that continual refinement will yield efficiency. A three-flat apartment building can now go up in 90 days, Skender claims, instead of nine months. Swanson estimates that the three-flats will cost $335,000 per unit to build, not including land. In time, company leaders hope that economies of scale and increased efficiency will bring down that price.

The company has been investing in design talent as well, hiring Tim Swanson, formerly of the architecture firm Cannon Design, to be its chief design officer. That allows it to combine design, manufacturing, and construction within one vertically integrated system.

There’s an age-old tension between architects’ craving for creative freedom and the efficiencies of standardization, which Swanson greets with a taboo acknowledgement: “Eighty to 85 percent of our buildings should be the same.” Because codes dictate how many individual elements come together, buildings are well-suited to modular repetition, he says.

t Skender, this repetition begins once an order is placed, and staff begin identifying the relevant components and writing assembly-line schedules. When materials arrive, numbered and bundled with an instruction set, they’re laid out on massive welding frames that allow line workers to affix clamps that secure steel elements. It’s not super-high-tech, but it means that welds can be accurate to 1/1000 of an inch. (“If I’m out on the dirt at a site, I’m talking about 1/16 of an inch at best,” said Scopano.)

These elements are carried by gantry from station to station as fabricators log each step of the process in the system, via the media screen. “We can watch the efficiency of a specific task, for a specific weld, for a specific corner, and just keep going. The granularity of data we’ll be looking at and analyzing will be pretty fun,” Scopano said.

Company leaders expect to install some automated welding by the end of the year. They plan to use data they gather to isolate the “squeakiest wheel” and fix it with automation, “rather than carte-blanche throwing robots up and down the line,” according to Scopano.

Peter Murray, Skender’s president of manufacturing, anticipates a five-day construction cycle inside the factory before each unit is fitted together and loaded onto a truck. Units will leave the factory 95 percent complete. On site, the apartments will be stacked together with a bolt-and-pin system and some additional welding. Facades (stone accents and brick claddings) are clipped on, and the building is complete.

Recently, a few other companies have grabbed headlines for reviving the dream of omnipresent modular building. Unlike them, Skender is not a startup. As a legacy builder, it has long industry experience, and has staffed its factory with builders well-versed in its local market.

As well as economies of scale, proponents of modular architecture tout its freedom from weather-related delays, unpredictable site conditions
FullStack Modular
When Jan Mischke speaks to industry leaders about the benefits of modular construction they usually respond in one of two ways, he said. “They are either optimistic about the future of modular or they are really worried that modular companies are going to eat their cake."

Their fears are for good reason, Mischke, a partner a McKinsey Global Institute, told Construction Dive. Even though modular construction has penetrated only about 3% of the U.S. construction market, recent projects have drawn attention to the efficiencies that it can offer for commercial projects, he said. These include new hotels from Marriott and Hilton, Skender's multifamily projects and several McDonald’s restaurants in the United Kingdom.

Mischke is one of the authors of a newly released McKinsey study that found that modular can deliver projects 20% to 50% faster than traditional methods and shave up to 20% off a project's costs. The method also makes sense for contractors in labor-constrained markets, the study said, and lends itself to structures like schools and health care facilities that have easily duplicated floor plans with similar fixtures and fittings.

"It's great for temporary structures, too, like a school that's in use while the main building is being refurbished," said Mischke.

The study predicts that construction firms that embrace modular construction will see their roles change, shifting from less on-site construction to more of a commoditized approach. The McKinsey official said savvy industry leaders will see modular as a growth opportunity, not a hazard.

“I would encourage the leaders of E&C firms to think about what could be their sweet spot 10 to 15 years out,” he said. “It’s time to get moving.”

The role of technology

The McKinsey researchers noted in the report several ways that technology is playing an increasingly important role in the shift to offsite construction. Robotics and other automation technologies are enhancing and speeding up the manufacturing process, making it more like automotive production. Many modular players utilize virtual and augmented reality programs, which create digital models that allow customers to visualize and tailor designs before they are built, the report said.

Technology also is helping facilitate digitally-enabled, "just-in-time" delivery to the jobsite, which is critical because it is not efficient to stack and store modules for later use, the report stated. For example, programs like RIB SAA provide planning and robotics software for modular construction manufacturers. Once modules arrive on the site, automated cranes lift and move them into the required position.

Meanwhile, Lindbacks, a modular construction firm in Sweden, uses Randek’s industrial construction machinery to automate a variety of construction tasks including nailing, milling of openings, sheet cutting, gluing, inkjet marking, and sheet addition and handling.
Construction Dive
While crane companies bear the brunt of safety obligations for operators and equipment, general contractors and developers aren't off the hook, industry experts say.

Accidents involving construction cranes have dominated U.S. headlines in recent months. In April a tower crane toppled onto a downtown Seattle street, killing four people and injuring three others. Then a few weeks ago, a crane collapsed in Dallas during a windstorm, killing one person, injuring several others and causing extensive damage to a downtown apartment building.

Although the causes of these accidents are under investigation, most crane incidents come down to human error, Alabama-based crane inspector James Pritchett told Construction Dive.

“That can come in many forms, [including] not knowing how to operate a crane properly, not inspecting it properly or not maintaining it properly,” said Pritchett, who has investigated dozens of accidents and now trains crane operators across the Southeast U.S.

In fact, Pritchett said he rarely finds a reason for an accident that is not related to human error.

“I come from an operator background," he said, "so whenever I come to an accident investigation I try my best to find other reasons for the incident, but it’s rarely something besides a problem with the operator."

New OSHA regulations that went into effect in April are designed to minimize accidents by strengthening crane operators’ knowledge and training. The regulations, which revise the way that operators are trained, evaluated and certified, put the responsibility for operator readiness on the employer, according to an OSHA spokesperson. They apply to a range of construction equipment including mobile cranes, tower cranes, service truck cranes, digger derricks and dedicated pile drivers.

Under the rule, crane operators must now be certified or licensed and receive ongoing training to operate new equipment. Operators who were certified before December, however, don't have to be reassessed. Whereas the previous regulations required crane operators to be certified only by the general size and capacity of crane, the new evaluations must rate operators' knowledge and skill based on crane type such as tower crane, mobile crane or overhead crane.

Like many regulatory changes, the revised rule comes with added costs. Although OSHA said that the rule is expected to result in a net annual cost savings, the agency determined that the industry's total annual cost of compliance, which involves performing operator competency evaluations, documenting the evaluations and providing additional training to operators, comes out to around $1.6 million.

Pritchett worries that some companies might try to skirt the new regulations in order to save time or money. “You have to make it cost-efficient enough so that people aren’t reluctant to doing it,” he said.

What you need to know
Cranes are a ubiquitous presence on U.S. commercial construction sites, especially in urban areas where infill and high-rise work are common. Rider Levett Bucknall’s Crane Index for North America found that cities like Seattle and Chicago have experienced a boom in the number of tower cranes operating on construction sites in recent years.

Lift operations on most jobsites are performed by subcontractors that provide their own equipment and employees, but some general construction firms run their own cranes. While the focus of OSHA rules are predominantly on the crane operator’s employer, construction companies that subcontract crane work can still bear responsibility when an incident occurs.

For instance, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries is investigating the roles of five contractors considered to be responsible for the Seattle crane collapse, including the general contractor, three crane subcontractors and the crane’s owner.
Drop Structures
Canadian company DROP Structures is on a mission to allow people to “drop” the company’s incredible cabins (almost) hassle-free in just about any location. One of the most versatile designs is the minimalist Mono, a tiny prefab cabin that runs on solar power and can be set up in just a few hours.

Although the minuscule 106-square-foot cabins take on a very minimalist appearance, the structures are the culmination of years of engineering and design savvy. According to Drop Structures, the cabins, which start at $24,500, typically require no permit. Thanks to their prefabricated assembly, they can be installed in a matter of hours.

Built to be tiny, but tough, the Mono tiny cabins are clad in a standing seam metal exterior, which was chosen because the material is resilient to most types of climates and is low-maintenance. The cabins also boast a tight thermal envelope thanks to a solid core insulation that keeps the interior temperatures stable year-round in most climates.

The Mono features a pitched roof with two floor-to-ceiling glazed walls at either side. This standard design enables natural light to flood the interior space and create a seamless connection between the cabin and its surroundings.

The interior space is quite compact but offers everything needed for a serene retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. The walls and vaulted ceilings are made out of Baltic Birch panels that give the space a warm, cozy feel.

The biggest advantage of these tiny cabins is versatility. The structures can be customized with various add-ons including extra windows or skylights, a built-in loft, a Murphy bed and more. They can can also go off the grid with the addition of solar panels.

Mischa Keijser/Getty Images
To meet the goals of the resolution, the design and construction industries will retrofit millions of structures and build many more. In the process, they could create a more just and resilient country.

Whether or not the U.S. decides to take action on climate change, the shape of the country—its towns, offices, homes, schools, roads, farms, and more—is on the brink of a radical transformation. This transformation could be borne out in two ways. The first is external: Escalating storms, floods, droughts, mass migration, food scarcity, and economic instability could dramatically alter the physical landscape and economy. The other is internal: A national effort to retrofit millions of buildings and rethink the way communities are designed could help Americans withstand the ravages of climate change and make the country more equitable.

The resolution known as the Green New Deal, published by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey in February, wants to bring about the latter. The Green New Deal framework describes the monumental changes needed to decarbonize the American economy by meeting 100% of our energy demands with zero-emission sources in the next decade. It will require overhauling major industries like energy and agriculture, but also transforming America’s buildings and construction sector.

It’s easy to miss just how destructive and inefficient land development is, given its ubiquity. Existing buildings hoover up about 40% of energy consumed in the U.S. and emit about 29% of greenhouse gases. The Green New Deal calls for retrofitting all of them—every last skyscraper, McDonald’s, and suburban ranch home—for energy efficiency within the next 10 years. It also addresses the role of the construction industry, which accounts for about 11% of all emissions globally, by recommending investment in community-led building projects oriented around decarbonization issues like resiliency, transit, and land preservation. And crucially, it demands family-sustaining wages, the right to organize, and a “just transition” for everyone affected by the transition to this decarbonized world.

House Republicans quickly declared the resolution a “boondoggle” in an official statement. It was an ironic choice of words. Whether the GOP realized it or not, that term emerged in the 1930s, when critics of the New Deal used it to characterize the project of putting broke Americans to work on hundreds of thousands of projects. It’s true that the Green New Deal’s goals—to reshape the country’s homes, workplaces, and economy, and provide equity for all—sound radical in a country ravaged by the housing crisis, worker exploitation, and stagnating wages, but from a technical, structural, and architectural standpoint, they’re entirely feasible. Despite what politicians would have you believe, we’ve done it before, and we have the tools to do it again.

As Rhiana Gunn-Wright, who is leading the creation of policy around the resolution, says, reaching them will mean thinking about transit, land use, housing, building regulations, and more. In short: “What will our cities and towns look like, moving forward?”


According to the Energy Information Administration, there are roughly 5.6 million commercial buildings in the United States. Most of those are small; half are under 5,000 square feet—think of a fast food joint or a doctor’s office. There are also 138 million housing units, which includes both houses and apartment units. Reducing their carbon footprint will involve the crucial, economy-wide shift away from fossil fuels, but also tamping down the amount of energy buildings use in the first place.

Retrofitting tens of millions of houses and apartment buildings, which take lots of energy to heat, cool, and light, isn’t the Green New Deal’s most glamorous clause, but it’s one of its most pressing. As summers get hotter and the population (and thus the housing stock) grows, the urgency will only increase, as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions reports. There will be trillions of lightbulbs to replace. Millions of HVAC units to upgrade, operable windows and automatic shades to install, rooftops to paint with heat-reflecting paint, shade-giving trees to plant and photovoltaics to hook up. Miles and miles of wiring and sensors and automation platforms to get online so it can all be monitored and controlled.

Who will do this work? Who will pay for it? How will it be regulated, in a country where building regulations are determined at local, rather than federal, l
Raysonho / Wikimedia Commons
Starboard Value LP, an AECOM investor that owns approximately 4% of the company's common stock, is calling on the board of directors to consider selling its construction services unit, according to a letter Peter Feld, Starboard's managing member, penned to AECOM Chairman and CEO Michael Burke this week.

The investment firm said AECOM's construction services unit has experienced earnings volatility and that it is subject to the risks of cost overruns and schedule delays.

A sale, Starboard said, would streamline the AECOM portfolio and allow investors and the company to focus more on the potential of its design and consulting business.

Overall, Starboard said, given AECOM's scale when compared to competitors, there's no reason it should not be able to compete with its peers on margins. In addition, the investment company said that AECOM should use Jacobs Engineering and its "turnaround" during the last several years as an operational model moving forward.

In a statement to Construction Dive, AECOM said, "We have taken and continue to take proactive steps from a position of strength to create meaningful shareholder value as demonstrated through our plan to spin-off our Management Services business into a standalone government services company; our already-executed $225 million margin-enhancing [general and administration expenses] reduction; ongoing review of margin improvement opportunities; our intent to exit all self-perform construction exposure by the end of the fiscal year; and stock repurchases under our $1 billion authorization." The company added that it values shareholder input and will review Starboard's letter.

AECOM announced last week that it was going to spin off its management services unit into a standalone company, which Starboard cited as an opportunity for it to suggest other changes.

It's not unusual for public companies like AECOM to have one or more activist investors try to force fundamental changes in the way the company operates.

Earlier this year, another AECOM investor, Engine Capital, tried to sway shareholders in the runup to the company's annual meeting by announcing it would vote "withhold" against current board members and a new executive compensation plan. Engine said executive pay at the company, particularity for Burke, who had by that time received almost $80 million in compensation, was too high given its substandard operating results in comparison to its peers. One of Engine's suggestions was to tie bonuses to long-term performance.

Shareholders ended up approving all of AECOM's board of directors' nominees and the proposed executive compensation resolution, voting yes as well on a revised employee stock purchase plan. ​
Qingshan Wu
Contributor Blaine Brownell explores a museum built into the sand dunes along the Bohai Bay shoreline in China.

In the acclaimed 1962 novel The Woman in the Dunes (Vintage, 1991), an amateur scientist takes shelter in a house constantly threatened by encroaching sand. In this haunting story, author Kobo Abe employs sand as a metaphor for humanity’s loss of control over the environment.

In recent years, our relationship with sand has taken an unexpected turn: instead of it threatening our existence, the material itself has become threatened. In the article “The End of Sand: Confronting One of the Greatest Environmental Challenges of the New Millennium,” Northeastern University researchers David Wesley and Sheila Puffer address the ecological threat posed by the global annual mining of 15 billion tons of sand. According to the authors, “sand is a finite resource and the depletion of alluvial sand used in construction is destroying the ecosystem of riverbeds, sea beds, and coastal beaches, and is contributing seriously to climate change.” This significant shift parallels the evolution of many architects’ missions from one of creating buildings that endure within their environments to one where we must emphasize the longevity of the environment itself.

Such an aspiration motivated architects Li Hu and Huang Wenjing, AIA, principals of Beijing-based Open Architecture, in their design of the UCCA Dune Art Museum. Completed last year along the coast of Northern China, the 3,000-square-foot structure is buried within an existing line of dunes, which rise several meters above sea level. I recently had the opportunity to visit the museum, which the architects claim was inspired children digging sand—a process that “creates a series of interconnected, organically shaped spaces which, enveloped by sand, resemble caves—the primeval home of man, whose walls were once a canvas for some of humanity’s earliest works of art,” they explain. The strategy to embed the building within the dune ecosystem enabled its preservation, which is especially critical given its location within a fast-developing resort community of multistory condominium towers.

Hired by the independent Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), Open Architecture was given the opportunity to decide the museum’s exact location along the Bohai Bay shoreline. According to Li, the firm’s first site visit inspired the idea to situate the building within dunes in a particular way. “A building [should] not be simply 'placed' on any site, as often done,” he says. “But rather, it needs to establish a special relationship—a deep dialogue, in this case—to a special place.” The Dune Art Museum is the first phase of a two-part commission, the second of which will be the Sea Art Museum, a counterpart structure to be located in the water. Resembling a monolithic, occupiable staircase descending into the bay, this future edifice will be connected to the Dune Art Museum by a long walkway. “The museum in the dune and museum in the sea are conceptually born together and work together to form a complete whole,” Li says. Construction on the Sea Art Museum will begin next year.

Practically speaking, building the Dune Art Museum necessitated the destruction of the section of dunes it occupies. However, once the structure was completed, the architect and contractor made painstaking efforts to restore the original topography and planting of the dunes. The sand displaced by the new building remained on-site, either added to the beachside as a grading improvement or returned to the top of the structure after construction to restore the original ecology of the dune. A vegetation expert supervised this restoration process, bringing local plants from neighboring dunes and nearby farms. Today, the foliage appears to be growing successfully, although the architect admits that such a restoration effort is inherently experimental.

Regarding environmental performance, the Dune Art Museum’s design features several benefits. The layer of sand and plants comprising the roof serve as an effective insulating layer. The indoor climate is further regulated by the exposed cast-in-place concrete structure that provides advantageous thermal mass; a deeply recessed glass façade that is inherently protected from heat gain; and a ground-source heat pump that utilizes the site’s underground water flow to moderate interior temperature, eliminating the need for a site-disruptive cooling tower. Additionally, natural light enters most of
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With recent project execution issues, quarter results surprises and share price falloffs among some publicly traded engineering and construction firms, sector analysts are questioning traditional industry business models and are calling for strategy changes to keep investors from fleeing industry stocks.

In a “deep dive” assessment earlier this month, investment bank Credit Suisse analyzed metrics among large firms it tracks, with recommendations for needed change to eliminate or reduce high-risk profiles—some already in process by firms.

“Bottom line, cost overruns associated with construction represent a huge repeatable industry issue,” says Jamie Cook, lead research analyst. “For investors to buy in, [firms] need to demand better contract structures to de-risk business models. This is long overdue, given limited competition in the space and … reflecting unnecessary risk consistently placed on the contractors.” Cook notes the continuing “self-help” moves by some firms, through sell-offs of higher-risk businesses and transition into sectors with growth potential and more stable earnings.

She points to moves by AECOM, Jacobs Engineering Group and KBR, for example, that have shed or reduced potentially higher-margin but risk-prone heavy construction markets, or are in process, in favor of more stable IT consulting or government services.

But the analyst cautions that as KBR’s remaining energy business is set to ramp up with expected award of large liquefied-natural-gas projects, its backlog risk could accelerate, even requiring selling off that segment.

"We have been curious as to why KBR would take on the risk of lump sum LNG work, given its message about de-risking and prioritizing consistent performance," added UBS construction sector analyst Steven Fisher in a June 21 research note: "It appears that KBR's financial targets only reflect modest amounts of profit, relative to what the as-bid potential is, thereby potentially skewing the upside/downside to the upside, assuming there are no extreme outcomes."

Noting McDermott and Fluor Corp. recent quarter results, battered by execution issues on projects, Credit Suisse cautions that firms need to review contract structures, with a push to “negotiate better terms and conditions.”

Says Cook: “This is particularly important as contractors have been increasingly taking on fixed-price work.”

The mega-project trend that has led to “mega-losses, and public firms, especially, cannot deal with that uncertainty,” says one construction financial consultant who declined to be identified. "Early on, design-build margins on big projects were tremendous. Over time, with competition, margins have gone way down and are not commensurate with risk."

“If you’re doing fixed-price jobs, sooner or later you will have a bad one, but there should be enough good ones to offset that,” he says. Firms seeking to eliminate risks “are design-centric that never really developed a contractor mentality,” the executive adds.

"I think what we are seeing is a reversal of a trend toward integrated design/build by the large engineering firms who did not want to be relegated to being subcontractors to the large builders," the consultant contends. "That movement has proven to be a disaster for some of the large E&C firms and they are moving back to selling services and not taking construction risk."
Jaime Navarro via Dellekamp Schleich
Mexico City-based architectural firm Dellekamp Schleich designed a modular timber home as an inspiring prototype for affordable and eco-friendly housing in Mexico. Originally created as one of 84 experimental proposals for the 2017 “From the Territory to the Dweller” showcase in Morelos, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is currently on show at INFONAVIT’s Laboratorio de Vivienda (Housing Laboratory) in Apan. The Laboratorio de Vivienda is an exhibition of 32 housing prototypes that sensitively rethinks low-income dwellings in Mexico. Created for self-construction, the low-cost housing prototype was built with a modular system of timber parts.

Both the “From the Territory to the Dweller” program and the Laboratorio de Vivienda exhibition are initiatives of Research Center for Sustainable Development, INFONAVIT, which invited national and international architecture firms to prototype affordable housing for different areas in Mexico.

At “From the Territory to the Dweller,” Dellekamp Schleich was asked to design a housing prototype for Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro, a small village in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The site-specific house is based on the local vernacular styles of the village. Because the timber industry is a major part of the town, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is built primarily of readily available pine and features construction techniques and styles traditional to that area.

Built atop a raised foundation, the modular housing prototype is lined with unfinished wood inside and out. The building is topped with a gable roof painted red and hemmed in by a small fenced-in yard. Operable folding doors open up to a small deck and yard to expand the living areas to the outdoors. Inside, the interiors are dressed with timber furnishings and bathed in natural light from large windows. A compact living area occupies the ground floor, while the bedroom is located in a lofted area.

In Laboratorio de Vivienda, Dellekamp Schleich’s housing prototype is one of 32 dwellings that incorporate traditional and locally sourced materials as well as concepts of scalability. The housing prototypes are located within a master plan designed by New York-based MOS Architects and include a Dellekamp Schleich-designed Materials Laboratory as well as a MOS Architects-designed Welcome Center. The exhibition is on show in Apan until June 23, 2019.

Paul Riddle
The Victory Plaza build to rent development, comprising two 26 and 29-storey towers, is sited on the former London 2012 Athletes’ Village

The 482-home build for rent development consists of nine-storey podium buildings designed using heavy masonry construction and punched openings. The two towers rise above with façades composed of glazing and bronze-ribbed panels framed in a precast stone grid.

Together with contractor MACE, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands developed an innovative construction method involving major prefabrication and a vertically rising four-level ‘jump factory’ able to complete a storey in under 55 hours, in order to save time and minimise disruption.

Amenity spaces include residential roof gardens on the podiums and a large roof garden facing on to the main road, as well as balconies and winter gardens.

At ground-floor level, aside from large entrance lobbies, shops and restaurants provide active frontages around the plot, with large overhanging canopies in precast concrete creating shelter from wind and rain.

The scheme is the first phase of an LDS masterplan for Qatari Diar/Delancey to develop 2,000 privately rented apartments.

Architect’s view

The greatest challenge with the project was to create a building that acted as a suitable backdrop to Victory Park. The towers certainly create a powerful sense of place and point of arrival in Victory Plaza, but we have anchored them to the site with robust, nine-storey podium buildings built from hand-laid brick. The towers are further integrated with public space between the building clusters, residential roof gardens on the podiums and the roof garden facing the main road.

Because the buildings are for private rental, they have to be flexible to accommodate changing living patterns, so have identical cores and floorplates, with ‘plug and play’ fittings that rationalise maintenance and replacement, which means the flats can be rented speedily and can change use or tenure over time. To improve quality and reduce delivery times and disruption to existing residents, we worked with MACE to come up with the ‘jump factory’ method of construction that involved significant prefabrication, which completed every storey within an incredible 55 hours.

Client’s view

Having completed two buildings in the London 2012 Athletes’ Village, we appointed Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands to undertake a review of the East Village masterplan, focused on the five undeveloped plots. This next phase, comprising a further 2,000 apartments, shops and leisure facilities, was to ensure the area’s legacy and transformation from the Olympic Games to an established London neighbourhood of 5,000 homes.

Our commitment that our homes be for the private rented sector meant the long-term stewardship of the area was critical to the success of the development. We worked closely with LDS to define a suitable typology for this emerging sector, increasing apartment sizes in response to sharers and families looking for spacious, long-term homes and prioritising designs that supported ongoing maintenance.

Seven years later the first plot, Victory Plaza, is complete and the architect’s commitment to quality materials and innovative, off-site construction has delivered two elegant and efficient towers with podiums that establish the emerging context of this new neighbourhood.

Peter Holroyd, construction director, Delancey
Flickr; The Natural Step Canada
Companies like Skender, Brasfield & Gorrie and Southland Industries are leveraging lean construction practices to save time, money and resources.

Wth productivity rates at the bottom of the charts, the construction industry may be a little too comfortable with waste in the many forms it can take — overlapping workflows, underutilization of talent, overproduction of materials and more. Small inefficiencies that go unnoticed for a long period of time can add up and cause schedule setbacks and project increases, some argue, a bit like the boiling frog scenario.

Proponents of lean construction say there are lessons to be learned from the way that Toyota streamlined its processes by cornering eight types of waste: defects, overproduction, waiting, unused talent, transportation, inventory, motion and extra processing.

Other manufacturing firms have followed suit. Compared to construction’s 1% global annual labor-productivity growth over the past two decades, manufacturing beats the economy-wide average of 2.7% with a 3.6% rate, thanks to a lean framework paired with automation, found a McKinsey & Co. study.

Organizations like the Lean Construction Institute (LCI) and International Group for Lean Construction have interpreted and catered lean thinking to the AEC industry as a way to derive more value from every expenditure of resources on and off the jobsite.

'Bit by the bug'

A company’s journey to get to this point typically starts with an employee or two seeing lean principles in action on a project, witnessing efficiency gains and getting "bit by the bug,” Kristin Hill, director of education programs with LCI, told Construction Dive. They start to learn more about the system, bring those ideas to their projects and eventually take it further up the chain.

High-level buy-in is key to sealing the deal for a lean transition, she added. “Once leadership is on board, wanting to go in a lean direction and setting the vision for that happening, it starts to happen very quickly.”

Lean construction practices are often paired with tools like 5S, a method of organizing a workplace; A3 problem solving focused on continuous improvement; and the Last Planner system, a workflow of planning, making adjustments and sharing lessons learned throughout a project. The full suite of lean principles and tools can be overwhelming to construction professionals because of the change it brings to so many aspects of their work.

But trying to teach all of these things at once can put benefits like schedule reduction and cost savings on hold, according to Hill, who suggests the better approach is to “start somewhere, start today.” Anyone can start to look for and root out waste from their first exposure to lean, she said, because the journey is defined by small but continuous improvements.

As employees are introduced to lean, though, they need to be able to see the concrete ways that the principles apply and can streamline what they do on a daily basis, according to Katie Wells, Brasfield & Gorrie’s director of lean construction. “There is a lot of theory around what lean construction is and why we should embrace it,” she told Construction Dive. But to convince operations staff of its credibility, “you must be able to provide practical applications."

There may also be an opportunity to point to ways that lean might not be so different than what employees are already doing. Southland Industries, for example, talks about lean in a way that’s consistent with the firm’s core values, pointing to things like collaboration, accountability and innovation.

“We identified what was in keeping with lean thinking and also resonated with our employees,” said Jessica Kelley, an operational excellence manager at Southland, in a recent webinar. “We aim to keep it simple.”

One of these simple ideas was implemented in Southland's Mid-Atlantic plumbing shop, where workers adapted a music stand to hold instructions for pipe fabrication. That way, they aren't turning around to look at the instructions every few minutes and potentially confused by which way the illustrated directions are faced.
Canadian Architect
The World Green Building Council’s (WorldGBC) 10th annual World Green Building Week will focus on end-to-end carbon emissions created across the building and construction industry.

From September 23 to September 29, World Green Building Week is highlighting the need for sustainable production, design, build, deconstruction and reuse of buildings and their materials.

“This year’s focus for World Green Building Week on the full lifecycle of buildings is key to promote innovation and accelerate the abatement of emissions from buildings, which stand at 39 per cent of total emissions worldwide,” said Cristina Gamboa, CEO, World Green Building Council. “Only by having an end to end understanding can our green building movement truly help contribute to the decarbonization of the built environment.”

The World Green Building Week’s September 2019 campaign will also incorporate the issue of air pollution.

According to WorldGBC, modern day buildings and construction together account for 36 per cent of global final energy use, and 39 per cent of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions when upstream power generation is included.

The organization suggests that the energy used in material manufacturing, construction and operation of buildings must come from clean, renewable sources rather than burning carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

WorldGBC will seek its global network of green building and construction industry experts to act as ambassadors throughout the week to promote action on total emissions and the life cycle of buildings.

Multiplex Executive Director, Stephen Smith, addresses the need for evidence-backed actions from all stakeholders in the construction industry to generate sustainable outcomes for our communities and our environment.

“Embedded sustainability efforts clearly result in a positive impact on business performance and Multiplex is very proud to be leading the way. World Green Building Week is a great opportunity for us to explore and hopefully enable sustainability solutions with our business partners and peers,” said Smith.

The issue of addressing embodied carbon emissions is becoming increasingly important to the building and construction industry, according to WorldGBC.

In a detailed report, slated for a September 2019 release by WorldGBC, the council outlines the pressing issues around embodied carbon in the industry and presents a vision for a net zero carbon construction.

WorldGBC calls for urgent action in the report, while recommending specific steps that business, government and civil society can take to help shape a net zero carbon future.

With a global network of nearly 70 national Green Building Councils, WorldGBC has confidence that green buildings can help combat climate change, as well as achieve numerous social, economic and environmental benefits.
Studio Gang
Almost seven years after the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York engaged the Chicago-based Studio Gang to design an expansion, the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation has broken ground, signaling the start of construction expected to last three years. The 230,000-square-foot, $383-million project by architect Jeanne Gang will add a library, theater, and new spaces for exhibitions and education, and it will better connect different areas of the existing museum. In addition, a new multi-story “Collections Core” will house some 4 million specimens in a visible storage area, allowing visitors to take in the breadth of the institution’s collection and witness scientific work taking place in real time.

“There’s an urgency to the public having a much deeper understanding of science and scientific issues that are really driving our times,” says AMNH president Ellen V. Futter, speaking to RECORD by phone. With the selection of Studio Gang, the museum found the ideal collaborator. “In addition to being a brilliant woman and fantastic architect,” says Futter, “Jeanne brings an exceptional sensitivity to both the built world and natural world.”

Gang and her team ruminated on erosion, tectonics, and other geologic processes while developing a vision for the building, using high-tech and analog methods to play with form. For instance, the architect tells RECORD, “During one very cold winter in Chicago when we were modeling the space, we took a giant block of ice and melted it with hot water.” That helped inspire the cavernous, fluid spaces of the interior architecture.

The final design, reflecting such natural influences, requires an innovative structure. To achieve those curving interior spaces, seemingly hollowed-out by nature and time, the architects designed shapes for reinforcing bars that will be covered with shotcrete. A similarly curved facade, clad in Milford pink granite (a material used elsewhere on the museum’s campus), will be punctuated with expansive glazed openings, conveying a sense of porosity and flow.

With many large openings offering glimpses of the various exhibition spaces, the new building’s light-filled and airy central hall will emphasize the connectedness of scientific disciplines while sparking curiosity in visitors. “You can look up and say, ‘I want to go see that next.’ It encourages you to make a discovery,” says Gang. And the overall plan dramatically improves circulation; gone are the many dead ends of the old exhibition halls. By making “a few very simple edits” to the existing wings, Gang’s design allows visitors to move through the campus in a loop, rather than having to backtrack. “The physical structure will be thrilling to look at, but also, emblematic of the journey of discovery—the meandering people do when they wander through a museum,” says Futter.

Three structures that are part of the complex are coming down in order to pull the new building further back into its site, minimizing encroachment into the adjacent Theodore Roosevelt Park. (The museum’s expansion plans prompted opposition from some community groups and even a lawsuit, which was dismissed in late 2018.) Futter notes that the project, which will extend into the green space by one-quarter acre, also features an improved landscape design by Reed Hilderbrand, including new trees and plantings, seating and gathering areas, and a wider entrance from Columbus Avenue. “We’ve done all of this in a way that is very much in keeping with the ethos and sensibilities of the park,” she says.

Despite the size of the expansion, its scale on the exterior is relatively modest, while the most striking feature of the design is the central atrium. “Many people have said it’s impossible to do an iconic or monumental void,” says Gang, “but this project challenges the idea of an object building.”

From Futter’s perspective, the Gilder Center will be far more than an object; it will be a monument to knowledge. “Right now, in a world where there are a lot of science deniers, where there are people having difficulty distinguishing fact and truth from untruth, our collection is evidence that we can show the public … it is one of the most important records of life on earth.”
Opened late last month, Skender’s newest high-tech manufacturing facility gives the Chicago-based firm the capability to take many of its projects from concept to reality in a controlled, offsite setting.

The 130,000-square-foot plant located on the Southwest Side of Chicago uses BIM techniques, modular fabrication and lean manufacturing processes to minimize weather risks and scheduling issues while increasing quality and safety, Skender Chief Design Officer Timothy Swanson told Construction Dive.

“What we’re seeing now with the opening of our new facility is a full alignment of our design, engineering, manufacturing and construction abilities,” he said, adding that the factory represents a milestone for the firm. “We’re jumping from site-based construction with this leap into manufacturing,” Swanson said.

Using an assembly line system, skilled employees will build and assemble 95% of a project's modular components, including fixtures, finishes and most appliances. The modules are then shipped to the jobsite where they will be assembled and finished by Skender construction teams.

Expected to be at full capacity in about 18 months, the plant will employ 150 people, who will be eligible to be bargaining members of the local carpenters’ union.

The vertically integrated design, construction and manufacturing firm's first modular order is for 10 affordable-rate, three-flat apartment buildings for Chicago developer Sterling Bay. Based on a common architectural type in the city, each three-flat consists of 12 modules, totaling approximately 3,750 square feet per building, with three two-bedroom, one-bathroom units and modern, market-rate finishes, Swanson said.

The steel-frame units will be completed and ready for occupancy in the city's 27th Ward in a nine-week production schedule – 80% faster than conventional construction methods – and at a 5% to 20% lower project cost, depending on the delivery method, according to the firm.

Ideal for hotels and healthcare facilities

In addition, Sterling Bay and Skender plan to start a seven-story, 83-unit modular apartment building in Chicago during the first quarter of 2020. While Skender officials aren't ready to publicly announce other modular clients, the firm is in the design phase with other developers and end-users for a dozen other projects, including healthcare, hospitality and mid-rise market-rate multifamily units, according to Todd Andrlik, Skender vice president of marketing. Swanson said one of these projects is a 30,000-square-foot outpatient facility the company is building in a former retail store.

The modular process lends itself to structures like hotels and healthcare facilities that have easily duplicated floor plans with similar fixtures and fittings, Swanson added. “Where we’re most enthusiastic about the new facility is for the types of projects that have the expectation of high quality but with work that can be repeated,” he said.

Even though modular building is becoming more prevalent in U.S. construction, with companies like Marriott and Prefab Logic investing in it, Swanson said there are still many misconceptions about offsite construction.

“In North America, assumptions around modular and manufactured products are that they are of lesser quality,” he said. “We are making the only designed object in the world that carries that kind of baggage — it’s not like people say they only buy their cars from companies that build them in a garage. That logic is not sound."

To help dispel some of these myths, Skender unveiled a 650-square-foot luxury condo prototype last fall. “Visitors were surprised by how a modular building could be so high end,” Swanson recalled. “For example, they said they didn’t know a modular unit could have stainless steel appliances."

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In May, German architectural firm Ingenhoven Architects broke ground on Kö-Bogen II, a sustainable mixed-use development envisioned as the “new green heart” of Düsseldorf, Germany. Designed to visually extend the adjoining Hofgarten park into the inner city, Kö-Bogen II wraps the sloping facades of its two buildings with hornbeam hedges that total nearly 5 miles in length. The hedges and turfed rooftop spaces will also help purify the air and combat the city’s heat island effect by providing a cooling microclimate.

Located at Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, Kö-Bogen II will serve as a commercial and office complex covering 42,000 square meters of gross floor area offering retail, restaurants, office space, local recreation and a five-story underground parking garage with 670 spaces. The development comprises a five-story trapezoid-shaped main building and a smaller triangular building that cluster around a valley-like plaza. The sloping facades, which will be planted with hornbeam hedges, open up the plaza to views of the iconic Dreischeibenhaus and the Düsseldorf Theater nearby. The architects will also be refurbishing the roof, facade and public areas of the Düsseldorf Theater.

“In order to do justice to the overall urban design situation, the design of Kö-Bogen II deliberately avoids a classical block-edged development such as that along the Schadowstrasse shopping street,” the architects explained in a press release. “In addition, the idea of green architecture has been applied systematically, thus distinguishing the development from conventional architectural solutions.”

Ascending to a building height of 27 meters, the hornbeam hedges will offer seasonal interest by changing color throughout the year. The turfed surfaces planted on the triangular building’s sloped facades will be accessible to passersby, who can use the space as an open lawn for rest and relaxation. Kö-Bogen II is slated to open in the spring of 2020.

Owners continue to seek greater efficiency, less risk and tighter schedules. This is driving more of them than ever before to explore such project delivery methods as construction management-at-risk (CMAR), design-build and integrated project delivery. As a result, these project delivery methods are growing rapidly and are quickly replacing the traditional design-bid-build method as the go-to means of executing projects.

The growth in alternative project delivery can be seen in the this year’s rankings of ENR’s Top 100 Construction Management-at-Risk Firms and Top 100 Design-Build Firms. The Top 100 CMAR firms had a combined revenue of $143.05 billion in 2018, up 8.2% from the $132.24 billion reported in 2017.

What is more interesting in the Top 100 CMAR, revenue numbers for domestic projects rose 9.6%, to $133.30 billion, in 2018 over 2017 figures. This more than makes up for the 8.5% drop in revenue from international CMAR projects, which fell to $9.75 billion in 2018 from $10.66 billion in 2017.

The design-build list provides a similar contrast between domestic and international project delivery. Overall, the Top 100 design-build firms had a total revenue of $107.66 billion in 2018, up 4.3% from 2017. However, revenue from domestic design-build projects grew a more healthy 5.9%, rising to $85.20 billion, in 2018. On the other hand, international design-build revenue dropped 1.5% in 2018, thanks in part to a fall-off in huge engineering-procurement-construction projects in the international mining, power and petroleum markets.

To put the strong growth in design-build and CMAR in a broader context, domestic design-build revenue has grown 69.6% from 2010, when the construction recession ended, to 2018. This rise comes despite a dramatic drop in big-ticket engineer-procure-construction projects in the oil-and-gas, power and mining sectors. In the same time period, domestic CMAR revenue has grown 108.4%.

What used to be considered alternative forms of project delivery “are becoming increasingly commonplace­—to the point that they’re not really alternative anymore,” says Scott Roux, senior vice president of Michael Baker International. “We are pursuing this work aggressively yet thoughtfully, and anticipate it comprising a larger percentage of our overall portfolio going forward.”

CMAR Is Surging
The market for CMAR has better than doubled in the past eight years for many reasons, as owners seek teamwork and earlier involvement in the design process than is typical in the traditional design-bid-build process. Many owners also have returned to CMAR after some bad experiences during the industry recession of 2008-10, when owners thought they could get cut-rate pricing using design-bid-build.

“During the downturn, many owners thought they would get the best price from design-bid-build, but that didn’t always work out that well,” says Dennis Cornick, executive vice president of Gilbane Building Co. So CMAR is returning to be the go-to project delivery method in the buildings sector.

CMAR also is making major strides in the public infrastructure market, particularly in the water and wastewater sector. For example, Clark Construction Group’s subsidiary Atkinson Construction is helping the City of Atlanta bolster its clean water system with the Atlanta Water Supply, Bellwood Quarry Tunnels and Shaft project, says Chip Hastie, executive vice president of Clark. Atkinson’s Underground Division has been working on the CMAR project over the last three years, constructing a water tunnel.

Design-Build Is Trending
Design-build also is rapidly expanding as the project delivery method of choice for many market sectors. “Design-build is hot and trending,” says Lisa Washington, CEO of the Design-Build Institute of America, Washington, D.C.

Washington points to two studies from last year that show both the growth and effectiveness of design-build. In June 2018, a joint study by DBIA and Raleigh, N.C.-based industry consultant FMI Corp. found that design-build is expected to grow 18% from 2018 to 2021 and will make up 44% of the nonresidential market by 2021.

The DBIA-FMI study was followed in November by a study of project-delivery performance by the Construction Industry Institute, an Austin, Texas-based industry research organization, and the Pankow Foundation, a McLean, Va.-based research grou
Fortis Construction
When Redwood, Calif.-based CM and general contractor DPR Construction decided in 2003 to close the doors of its regional office in Portland, Ore., Jim Kilpatrick, manager with the Portland office, heard opportunity knock. Rather than relocate to another DPR office and part ways with longtime associates, including a tightly knit managerial staff, he decided he would spearhead the launch of a new firm.

In its first year, CM and general contractor Fortis Construction Inc. commenced operations with a cadre of three former DPR officers, in addition to 10 other former firm employees, four of whom Fortis appointed to leadership positions. “We picked the cream of the crop, recalls Kilpatrick, now president of Fortis. In its first year, Fortis posted revenue of $6 million, some of it from legacy work originally involving DPR.

“It was a very amicable parting,” says Fortis senior project manager Tim Sissel, one of the four employees originally tagged for a leadership role. “DPR assisted us in opening our office.” Once up and running, Fortis focused on markets it knew best, including higher education, medical and commercial tenant build-outs.

“Growth was slow but steady in those early years,” Sissel acknowledges.

“Our thought was we eventually would achieve $45 to $50 million in annual revenues and make a comfortable living,” adds Kilpatrick.

Those early ambitions proved to be modest. Last year, Fortis saw Northwest regional revenue skyrocket to $668.6 million for 2018, or a roughly 200% increase from the $229.3 million the contractor reported for 2017.

The turning point arrived in 2007, when DPR approached Fortis about joint-venturing on a data center in Quincy, Wash., for web services enterprise Yahoo. Having withdrawn from the Northwest, “DPR didn’t have the manpower or local resources to complete the project, but we did,” says Sissel. “We also had experience with data co-location centers—earlier, less complex versions of data centers.” For its part, “DPR had the balance sheet,” he adds.

Within the world of regional data center project owners, word soon spread of Fortis’s acumen. In short order, the firm found itself either co-venturing on such projects with DPR or constructing them on its own, with its clientele including Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. The 349-employee construction firm has largely pursued data center projects on its own since 2016, Sissel says.

Kilpatrick partially credits the firm’s 2018 surge to $500 million in revenue to Facebook’s Prineville, Ore., data center campus. “We’re at the end of one phase, the middle of another phase and the start of a third phase,” he says.

Fortis also has been delving deeper into other core competencies, having recently completed work on a $44-million modernization program for the Portland State University Stott Center and Viking Pavilion, a 141,000-sq-ft student athletic facility that includes a sports medicine center. Under construction is the $30-million Tykeson Hall College and Careers Building, a facility that will house the College of Arts and Sciences and a Career Center for the University of Oregon in Eugene. Fortis also is participating in a planned $160-million student housing project on the campus.

Meantime, the firm is branching out into the K-12 educational market, says Kilpatrick, with projects including the $100-million-plus modernization of Portland Public Schools’ Madison High School, currently in the design phase.

Significantly, some 96% of its business involves repeat clients, with the company reporting exceptional growth in both its revenue and head count. Kilpatrick attributes the firm’s fortunes to culture.

“Most firms are revenue driven—working toward a given goal for a specific period,” he says. “We never think about revenues. You could say we’re like an inverted pyramid. We’re people-centric. If we hire good people, make them happy, then they will make clients happy and revenues will take care of themselves.”

It’s a strategy that has resonated with Facebook, says Matt Moews, regional data center construction manager with the firm.

“We selected Fortis to build our first data center for us in 2009, and we’ve been working with them ever since,” he says. “We have similar cultures. We’re both people-oriented, safety-oriented and driven to work hard. We cons
C40 Cities
The Reinventing Cities competition asked architects to find new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in cities around the world. The results are an extraordinary example of what future cities could look like.

As the world moves to a zero-carbon future, cities will be key places to transform–particularly buildings, which account for more than half of emissions in most cities. Reinventing Cities, a competition launched two years ago by C40 Cities, a network of mayors focused on finding solutions to climate change, asked architects to reimagine new uses for vacant and abandoned spaces in six cities: Chicago, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Oslo, and Reykjavík. These are the winning proposals; the winning teams now have the chance to buy or lease each site to develop the projects.

On two vacant lots in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood, a new net-zero carbon housing development is designed to run on renewable energy, grow food on the roof, and process stormwater onsite. The ultra-efficient buildings, designed to “passive house” standards, would be built in a local modular factory.

An unused market building in Madrid would be renovated with recycled materials and certified wood and would produce its own power through solar panels on the roof and walls. Inside the market, the community would have access to local, organic produce and workshops about climate change.

On vacant land in a part of Madrid sandwiched between an industrial and residential area, a new development would include student housing, rehearsal spaces and an auditorium for musicians, an organic store, and space for urban farming. Nearly half of the surface area would be devoted to green space.

A new zero-emissions student hub at the Polytechnic University of Madrid–with housing, sport and art facilities, and a lab for sustainability research projects–would use a passive design to shrink energy use. Outside, the walls would be covered in holes to create habitats for plants and animals.

A new factory in Madrid would manufacture biodegradable zinc-air batteries and run on energy from a solar farm on the property, creating more than 100 local jobs. Regenerative agriculture techniques would rehabilitate the soil, and an onsite “Compostlab” would produce compost from local waste.

At a former freight terminal site in Milan, a new social housing project would be the first in Italy to be carbon neutral. The design limits space for personal cars and has extra space for bike parking, charging stations for electric cars, and a neighborhood car-sharing scheme. The buildings would be powered by onsite renewable energy and connected to district heating.

The world’s largest and perhaps most destructive mining industry is rarely discussed. Approximately 85 percent of all material mined from the earth is a simple and widely available resource: sand. Because it is so cheap and readily available, it is mined by everyone from guy with a shovel, to multi-million dollar machine operations. The majority of sand is used to make concrete, but the displacement of sand leads to the catastrophic destruction of coastal, sea bed and river ecosystems and topography.

The United Nations Environment Program estimates that 40 billion tons of sand are mined every year, but since the market is corrupt, hidden and decentralized there have been no comprehensive studies to date. In order to get a rough number, the United Nation’s used global cement production and sales figures to approximate how much sand is collected. For example, every ton of cement requires six to seven tons of sand and gravel in order to make concrete.

The environmental impact

Sand mining, especially when done without regulation or oversight, can damage rivers, cause beach erosion and destroy coastal ecosystems. At least 24 Indonesian islands disappeared off the map just to build Singapore.

Since sand dredging occurs primarily for construction purposes, miners target river and coastal ecosystems where the sand is ideal. River sand is particularly perfect for concrete because it is coarse and does not contain salt that would otherwise corrode metal and other building materials. In addition to disturbing riverbed and river bank ecosystems, altering the flow and capacity of rivers can cause drought or disastrous flooding– though rarely recognized as a contributing factor.

In Kerala, India, flooding was found to be partially caused by sand dredging that took 40 times more sand out of the river bed than the river could naturally replace.

Dredging sea grass habitat can also cause sediment to drift for miles causing both coastal erosion and smothering ecosystems like coral reefs. Erosion, land subsidence and the introduction of heavy machinery and vehicles into delicate habitats also threatens the integrity of nearby infrastructure such as roads and bridges.

One study found that every ton of sand taken from a river in California cost taxpayers $3 in infrastructure damage.

Cities’ demand for sand
Development and urbanization are expanding rapidly in every corner of the world to accommodate an exponentially growing population and our insatiable rates of consumption and expansion. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in cities is more than four times what it was in the 1950s. Over 50 percent of the world’s population now lives in urban areas with nearly three billion additional people expected to migrate to cities in the next 30 years.

In addition to new buildings, sand is also used for land expansion projects. In China, it is a common practice to dump sand on top of coral reefs to speed the process of building land. Dubai is also famous for its man-made islands, which required millions of tons of sand.

Singapore has added over 50 square miles of land in the past four decades and more skyscrapers in the last 10 years than all of New York City— a feat that required over 500 million tons of sand. The creation of Singapore was so rapid that Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam all banned the export of sand, but miners simply moved to Lake Poyang on the Yangtze River. The WWF calls this Lake the largest sand mine in the world, but it is tragically also Asia’s largest destination for migratory birds. Sand dredging activities have more than doubled the river’s capacity in certain areas, draining parts of the lake and reducing key fisheries.

“It’s the same story as over-fishing and over-foresting,” says Pascal Peduzzi, from the United Nations Environment Program. “It’s another way to look at unsustainable development.”

The scale of the problem is enormous and the consequences of moving massive amounts of life-and land-sustaining material from one place to another is glaring but the world remains functionally oblivious, blinded by the desire for new buildings and up-and-coming neighborhoods.

The Container Cycle Hub is one solution to what is going to be a very big problem.

We are in the midst of a cycling revolution with the proliferation of electric bikes, which are often far more expensive that the regular bikes people ride in cities. But this creates a problem; nobody I know with a Cevelo road bike leaves it chained to a post in the middle of the city (they keep a junker bike for that), but lots of people have e-bikes now that cost as much.

That's why secure bike parking and storage is really going to be the third leg of the stool that will make the e-bike revolution happen: good bikes, good bike lanes, and a safe, secure place to park.

That's why the Container Cycle Hub from Cyclehoop is such a good idea; in the space of a single car parking space it provides parking for 24 bikes. It's made out of a recycled high cube shipping container.

"A key feature of this product is the high security gate. The original container has been modified to fit space saving secure sliding gates with perforated panels that allow natural light inside while reducing the visibility of the bicycles from the outside for security. The sliding gates are opened using a mechanical code lock, with electronic options available, facilitating keyless access."

They get so many bikes inside by parking them double high, with Cyclehoop's "gas assisted two tier racks." It has bright motion-sensor lights powered by solar panels and enough batteries to keep it going all year.

I do hope that there is enough power to run an alarm and video system as well, just in case someone breaks it open, as often happens in bike storage lockers. You still have to lock your bike, even in this.

As more and more people ride e-bikes instead of cars, more and more of them are going to cost as much as used cars, and security is going to become a very big problem, as critical a part of bike infrastructure as bike lanes.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

But cities now provide free or cheap storage for automobiles in public streets. They can get 24 bikes or e-bikes in the same space. If cities are serious about getting people out of cars and on to bikes, they should get serious about bike parking; it is a critical part of bike infrastructure. Dropping Container Cycle Hubs on every block would be a great way to do it.

With people riding $5,000 Terns and Surlys and $2500 Gazelles instead of cars, parking is going to become very, very important.
The sharing economy puts a different spin on new construction and building operations.

ber. Amazon. AirBnB. WeWork. Common.

These are some of the prominent brands and business platforms that have come to define the “shared” or “gig” economy in the U.S. and beyond. They are reflections of and responses to societal and behavioral changes in the ways that people want to live, work, and play. Their success is linked inextricably to the ubiquity of mobile tools that connect users to the Internet that, as one AEC firm put it, “is the circulation system of the shared economy.”

As this economy evolves and expands, the built environment plays catch-up. Indeed, some AEC executives still view this evolution through a narrow framing of “collaborative spaces” and transparency. These same executives, though, acknowledge that something is going on out there that is redrawing design and construction parameters.

These influences vary by building type and manifest themselves in different ways. For example, Thousand Oaks High School in California recently completed the transformation of its 4,500-sf library into a Perkins Eastman–designed Learning Center that “is like Starbucks without coffee,” say two of the firm’s Principals, Brian Dougherty, FAIA, LEED AP; and Betsy Olenick Dougherty. The Learning Center is “energized” with nonstop music and strong bandwidth. The space’s lighting, acoustics, and tools (it includes 3D printers) are completely different from a traditional library’s, and the librarian now serves as a facilitator and mentor.

In Lowell, Mass., Maugel Architects designed the 100,000-sf Boott Mills office building (which includes labs on its third floor) with large, flexible conference spaces that all tenants can share.

On a grander scale, Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet-owned company, is developing a 12-acre neighborhood, called Quayside, southeast of Toronto, whose objectives include creating a destination for people, companies, startups, and local organizations “to advance solutions to the challenges facing cities, such as energy use, housing affordability, and transportation,” according to the project’s website.

“I think [the shared economy] is having a bigger impact than most people realize,” says Rhett Crocker, President of LandDesign, a Charlotte, N.C.-based urban design, planning, and civil engineering firm.

Before Crocker spoke with BD+C in mid-March, he had a conversation with a client about developing pickup and drop-off areas for car-sharing services and the city’s popular bike- and scooter-sharing programs. (Since the city launched its electric scooter program in May 2018, monthly ridership has ranged from 83,000 to 139,000 trips, according to the Charlotte Department of Transportation.) Crocker notes that some existing drop-offs have become little social hubs in their own right.