Even the worst economy in decades can’t suppress the human urge to build. Today’s most ambitious projects are bigger and wilder than ever!
By Rena Marie Pacella Posted 02.24.2009 at 4:28 pm 0 Comments
Name: Alternative Multifunctional Underground Space
Cost: $14.4 billion
Estimated Completion: 2028
The Challenge: Hollow out 900 million cubic feet of earth to make a watertight underground urban oasis
Tension and integrity are more than just what you might encounter in a day at the office. According to physics-centric artist Kenneth Snelson, the characteristics combine to form tensegrity, a principle based on strength and adaptability. Snelson uses it in reference to materials, but that mix can also come in handy in the workplace, especially in today's economy.
You're not the only one adjusting to leaner times in this sharp downturn: buildings are also feeling the weight of the cash crunch. But, thanks to an inventive crop of architects and engineers, there may be a silver lining, in the form of human-powered entertainment venues, environmentally sensitive walls, and unusual takes on traditional construction materials.
As a child growing up in northern China, Yan Xiao loved flying kites. A born engineer, he made them himself out of paper sails and plain bamboo frames. The kites were durable and cheap. Xiao left China at age 22 to study civil engineering in Japan and the U.S. but returned as a visiting professor at Hunan University in 2002. On a trip to the region’s vast bamboo forests, the memory of those kites gave the 47-year-old Xiao a flash of inspiration: Bamboo was strong enough for kites, but he suspected that it could be fortified to make even sturdier things, like bridges and houses.
Just a few weeks ago, the new St. Anthony bridge in Minneapolis opened, to a heavy stream of commuter traffic. On August 1, 2007, the original bridge collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100. The National Transportation Safety Board will issue an official report on the bridge collapse next month, but the likely cause has to do with gusset plates that were poorly designed in the 1960s. There are still 12,600 similar "steel deck truss" bridges in use in the U.S.
Agriculture is broken. Traditional techniques use too much energy and produce too little food for our growing planet. One fix: skyscrapers filled with robotically tended hydroponic crops and lab-grown meat
On May 4, 2007, a two-mile-wide F5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg, Kansas, leaving two thirds of the town’s 1,500 inhabitants homeless. Many thought the town was finished. But in fact, the townspeople decided to rebuild using the greenest, most forward-thinking materials and construction methods possible.
Canadian student pranksters have turned city lights into Morse code, covered the mayor’s house in fake paint, and dangled a car beneath the Golden Gate Bridge—just to show they can. Our writer risked injury and arrest to join the cult
The Lions Gate Bridge carries some 70,000 cars almost a mile across the entrance to Vancouver’s harbor every day. In a city polishing itself up for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the bridge is prime postcard fodder.
MIT professor awarded for his innovative, human-powered irrigation pump
By Gregory MonePosted 04.24.2008 at 8:24 am 0 Comments
The Super MoneyMaker Pump—yes, that's the real name—sucks up water from sources as many as 30 feet below the ground, can spray it up to 40 feet high, and can even push it through 1,000 feet of hose to cover a larger section of land. In all, the pump can irrigate two acres of land, and costs only around $100.
MIT professor Martin Fisher and his team at KickStart, a nonprofit, invented the pump for small-scale farmers. Since it's human-powered and easy to use, it allows them to irrigate crops all year round, instead of just waiting for the rainy season.