The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plans to replace 500 bridges in the state starting in 2015, and the majority of these bridges will be built under public-private partnership contracts.  Currently 4,200 bridges, or 18% of the state’s bridges, are structurally deficient. This figure is 11% higher than the national average.  This should not be too surprising, however, because the average age of a bridge in Pennsylvania is around 50 years old.  Also, the majority of the bridges listed as structurally deficient require only minor repairs, or they are deteriorating and might need weight restrictions in the future as a result.  All of the bridges are safe, but PennDOT has identified 300 bridges that they would like to use public-private partnerships to replace.  Under a public-private partnership, a private company or team must design, build, and maintain each bridge.  PennDOT will pay the team based on their performance.

Thursday, 23 January 2014 01:40

Construction to Start on Los Angeles Hotel

Construction will start February 15th on the Wilshire Grand Hotel development in Los Angeles, California. When built, the 1,110-foot hotel will be the tallest structure in the western United States. Pouring the concrete for the building’s foundation will be the first step in constructing the hotel. The contractors plan to pour the whole foundation, 21,000 cubic yards of concrete, continuously over three days. This will break the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous concrete pour. It will take 2,120 truckloads of concrete and will weigh 82 million pounds.

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Wednesday, 22 January 2014 12:35

4 Dead in Oklahoma and Nebraska Plant Blasts

Two people died on Monday morning when an animal feed plant in Omaha, Nebraska collapsed and burst into flames.  Seventeen other workers were injured, including four who are in critical condition.  Two other people died in a seperate incident when a furnace exploded at a steel plant in Madill, Oklahoma later in the day.

Jenga is a game that debuted in 1983 that has players stack 54 rectangular pieces each cut to slightly different dimensions in perpendicular rows to form a tower.  During each person’s turn, he or she must pull one block from the tower and place it on top of the structure.  The game ends when the tower falls over, and the winner is the person who was the last to successfully place their block on top of the structure.  Jenga means “build” in Swahili, and it is currently the third most popular game in the world in terms of units sold each year.  Despite being a simple game intended for ages 6 and up, HowStuffWorks shows how Jenga can actually teach players about structural engineering.

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Monday, 20 January 2014 12:45

Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project Underway

Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group officially broke ground on the Hudson Yards redevelopment in New York City in December 2012.  The West Side Yard, commonly referred to as Hudson Yards, opened in 1987 and is located on the West Side of Manhattan between West 30th street, West 33rd street, 10th street, and 12th street.  The rail yard stores commuter trains that operate through Penn Station.  The first phase of the plan to redevelop the 26-acre plot of land is building a platform over the eastern side of the yard to seal off the current train storage area.  This part of the project will begin this month.  The platform will take two and a half years to finish and cost $750 million.  It will take 300 caissons weighing between 4 and 60 tons, as well as 25,000 tons of steel and 14,000 cubic yards of concrete to complete the platform.  Once finished, two new skyscrapers will be able to be built on the platform.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts unveiled on Wednesday the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center that will be built in downtown Philadeliphia. The 59-story tower will cost around $1.2 billion to build, and it will be home to 4,000 Comcast employees primarily focused on software development and business services.  The skyscraper will also house the area’s local NBC and Telemundo affiliates.  The 1.5 million square foot building will be a joint venture between Comcast and Liberty Property Trust with Comcast controlling 80% of the venture.  The company’s current home, the 58-story Comcast Center also located in Philadelphia, was finished in 2008 and it is currently the 17th tallest building in the United States and the tallest American building outside of New York and Chicago.  Daniel Safarik, editor at the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, believes it is likely that the new Comcast tower will surpass the Comcast Center as the largest American building outside of New York and Chicago.

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A video went viral over the past few days showing a Raleigh, North Carolina condo under construction collapsing during a windstorm.  Toll Brothers, the company constructing the Brier Creek condominium building, is now saying that the building was not complete enough to withstand the wind gusts.  When the building collapsed on Saturday, it was not yet in compliance with the Raleigh building codes, which require structures to be able to withstand wind gusts up to either 90 or 100 miles per hour.  The largest wind gust measured at Raleigh-Durham International Airport during the storm was 86 miles per hour.  Meteorologists are trying to determine if that makes the gust the strongest or second strongest ever recorded in the area.