The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan campus) examined a variety of bridge types along with design requirements under the Canadian Highway Bridge Design Code. As part of the research, the seismic performance of shape memory alloy reinforced and post-tensioned bridge piers have been tested in the University’s Applied Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures (ALAMS). The results, published in the Journal of Structural Engineering, ASCE, point out that bridges are being built to withstand the force of an earthquake, however they are being overbuilt, resulting to unnecessary construction expenses.

Researchers at TU Wien have developed a construction method for concrete domes, requiring far less amounts of labor and materials than the conventional resource intensive formwork. Invented by Dr. Benjamin Kromoser and Prof. Johann Kollegger at the Institute of Structural Engineering, the new method is called "Pneumatic Forming of Hardened Concrete (PFHC)" and sets the complicated spatially curved formwork and the framework unnecessary. Also important is that it saves up to 50% of the concrete as well as 65% of the necessary reinforcement steel.

Brown University engineers Haneesh Kesari and Michael Monn have been studying sea sponges in order to understand how these fairly simple creatures can maintain their shape at the bottom of the ocean, despite the fact that they are subject to the constant stress of underwater waves and tidal forces. The findings of their research, published in the journal Scientific Reports showed that tiny structural rods in the sponges’ bodies have evolved the optimal shape to avoid buckling under pressure. According to the researchers, this shape could provide a blueprint for increasing the buckling resistance in all kinds of slender human-made structures, from building columns to bicycle spokes to arterial stents, as buckling is the primary mode of failure for slender structures.

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A huge but yet mobile 3D printer has been developed by Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, Dean’s Professor of Industrial & Systems Engineering, Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering, Astronautics Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC), as well as Director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT). Its function is based on his idea about Contour Crafting (CC), a layered fabrication technology with great potential in automating the construction of whole structures that could also reduce material use, waste and energy consumption. An entire two-story house of 2,500 ft2 could be built in a day, without supervision! And because these machines can scale to great sizes, they will eventually be used to even build skyscrapers.

A short bridge was demolished in downtown LA, as it was standing in the way of the Regional Connector project, the city’s metro line extension. The bridge, leading to Hope Street, was built in the area where the construction of the 2nd Street/Hope Station is taking place. The station will serve the northwest part of DTLA, including Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Broad, the Los Angeles Music Center, MOCA and many offices and residences in the area.

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The lobby ceiling of the Cuban hotel Sol Rio De Luna y Mares collapsed on Feb. 2 during a wedding ceremony rehearsal, burying in the debris a British couple and their 24 guests, many of which were seriously injured. John and Sarah Wenham were saving for years and had planned the $30,000 wedding of their dreams in Cuba, but the roof collapse turned their special day into a nightmare. Nothing has been reported up to now regarding the cause of the devastation.

The Riyadh Metro is a rapid transit system under construction in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It will be 176 km (109 mi) long with 6 lines and 85 stations, including underground, elevated and at-grade sections. Its construction started in April 2014 and is expected to be completed by 2019, creating about 15,000 jobs in the state. Saudi officials approved the plan in 2012, as the capital’s population is expected to increase by 50% by 2035. The new metro system will fulfil the demands of the growing population, as well as reduce traffic jams and improve air quality.

Nine people were buried in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province in Eastern China after a residence complex collapsed on the morning of Thursday Feb. 2, and seven of them have been reported dead. The building’s poor construction was probably the reason for the collapse, as there had been no reports of extreme weather in the area over the last days. Next to the collapsed apartments still stands a residential building seeming relatively intact, which forces the rescuers to work carefully. More than 400 people were involved in rescue efforts, including soldiers, police, fire rescue personnel, and medical staff.

In July 2016, China and Nigeria agreed to a $11-billion contract to build the Lagos-Calabar coastal railway. It will stretch for 1400 km (871 mi) and is expected to open in record time, before the end of 2018. At that time, at least the first segment of the project, a rail line that will connect the cities of Port-Harcourt, Calabar, Uyo and Aba, will be completed. Eventually, the Lagos-Calabar coastal railway line will link all sea ports of the country and is expected to create business hubs for commercial activities.

To make way for a new business district in the city of Wuhan (formerly known as Hankou) in Central China, 19 apartment buildings were demolished on Saturday, January 21. It was the largest building implosion project ever taken place in China, where more than 5 tonnes of explosives were used, distributed in 120,000 locations. The implosion was carried out at midnight and the operation covered an area of two blocks of flats (more than 15 hectares).  In the stunning video, the 7 to 12 story-high buildings vanish in just 10 seconds!

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