The greatest innovations in engineering from the seafloor to the tallest stone facade.
By PopSci Staff
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Grand Award Winner: Dockwise Vanguard
When a battleship needs repairs in the middle of the ocean, a semisubmersible vessel like the Dockwise Vanguard can provide offshore dry dock. The 902-foot-long and 230-foot-wide bowless Vanguard—the largest craft of its kind by nearly a football field—can submerge its deck below the waterline and move its above-water towers aside, allowing mammoth marine vessels to float aboard before the Vanguard rides back up underneath them. The Vanguard can carry 121,254 tons of cargo and another 7,716 tons of food, fuel, and supplies; that’s almost double the payload of any such craft before it.
At 1,353 feet, the Al Hamra Firdous Tower in Kuwait is the tallest building in the world with one side made of stone. Before the advent of steel frames, which made glass curtain walls possible, masonry helped buildings stand tall. Instead of choosing stone for its strength, though, engineers and architects at SOM chose it to help keep the building cool. The tower’s monolithic facade faces south, where stone helps mitigate heat loading from the broiling sun. The rest of the building is covered entirely in glass, maximizing views across Kuwait City.