Jim Kollaer's blog

It is against the law to fly a commercial drone or unmanned aircraft system (UAS) without approval and waivers from the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA). No flying over your proposed subdivision to do survey or photo work without having a Section 333 exemption from the FAA and filing a Certificate of Authorization or COA. No survey or mapping or daily flights to track work progress on the construction site without filing a COA. No flights above 500 feet off of the ground. No flights that do not meet FAA visual flight rules (VFR), meaning that the operator must be able to see the drone at all times during the flight without using any Go Pro or other camera to track it. No autonomous flights, and the drone cannot weigh more than 55 pounds fully loaded.

   Read more » about Drone Rules Drone On

I learned several things early in my scouting days. One was that if I focused sunlight through a magnifying lens, I could start a fire, melt plastic or burn my name into a 2x4. Another thing that I learned was how to build a reflecting oven to cook a meal when we were camping out. Never did I think that I would be reading a paper about the ways that building designs could do the same things.

We have written about the Vdara Hotel in Las Vegas that was reflecting sunlight and melting plastic cups and the plastic parts of Jaguars parked nearby. We have heard about the reflected sunlight from the Museum Tower in Dallas streaming into the nearby Nasher Museum and endangering priceless art. I have found a great paper written by Vicente Montes-Amores and published by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) that speaks to the issues involved and ways to avoid the potential financial liabilities for making mistakes. For those of you who are developing, designing and building towers these days, it is a good read.

For those of you who live in or near those “death ray” towers, you will be interested in why your azaleas are being fried.    Read more » about Darth Vader Death Ray Buildings

The next tallest tower in the world is under construction outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Kingdom Tower, on schedule to be completed by late 2018, combines all of the hyperbole that we design and construction professionals can dig out of our toolboxes and then some.

Originally planned to exceed the “one mile high” barrier, it has been reduced to the one kilometer or 1,000 meter height. Recently, according to Construction Week Online, Dr. Hisham Jonah, the Chief Development Officer for Jeddah Economic City outlined some of the realities and many of the incredible facts surrounding this, the newest, tallest tower in the world at a recent Construction Week Infrastructure Summit in late March.

The Kingdom Tower will exceed the 163 story Burj Khalifa Tower in Abu Dhabi with a breath- taking 500,000 square meters (5.382 million square feet) of space on 252 floors of offices, hotel and residences. According to Dr. Jonah, there will be 167 floors available for occupancy and the building will include the highest observation platform in the world at 834 meters (2,118 feet) in the air. According to the Construction Week article, the tower incorporates new technologies that will make it the “ state of the art” for construction including elevatoring, construction cranes and mechanical systems as well as height.    Read more » about Tall, Taller, Tallest. Maybe

I have written recently on the steelworkers strike at several oil and chemical refineries around the country and the fact that the owner’s representatives and the USW national had reached a national agreement. I noted last week that even though a national agreement had been reached, the strike action was not over until the locals had finally negotiated their agreements on the issues at the local plants.

Workers at the Tesoro plants have agreed, but in the Houston area, the long tail is still at play. L.M. Sixel, business writer for the Houston Chronicle wrote this week that five plants are still on strike and that one might be close to a vote.    Read more » about The Longer Tail on the Steelworkers Strike

I know you are like me. You see climbing cranes on a high-rise building under construction and the cranes are lifting everything that goes into the building from structural steel to glass, studs, drywall, flooring, fixtures and furnishings. Somewhere in the back of your mind is the nagging question - “Okay, the building is topped out and generally finished; how are they going to get the cranes down?” If you are an architect like me, you still are amazed that the contractors and those fearless ironworkers can even get them up there, much less get them down.

What if the tower is over 2,000 feet in the air like the Shanghai Tower in Shanghai?   Read more » about How Did They Get Those Cranes Down?

When architectural designs hit Popular Mechanics Magazine, I know that they must be amazing. Robin would certainly have said Holy Smokes or some equally pithy comment to Batman about the Shanghai Tower and its massive, and I mean massive, “Tuned Mass Damper” or “Harmonic Absorber.”

The stats about the building are as large as the building itself. Designed by the Gensler team and built by the Shanghai Construction Group, the finished building stands 632 meters into the air over Shanghai. For those of you not into metrics, that is 2,073 feet five and 57/64 inches tall, second only to the Burj Khalifa tower.

The point that attracted Popular Mechanics to the building was the 5 story tall 1,000 plus ton Tuned Mass Damper designed to reduce the sway of the tower for its occupants.    Read more » about Holy Smokes Batman! That is an Amazing Tuned Mass Damper [VIDEO]

According to Breitbart, “Despite the February 21 settlement of a bitter labor dispute at West Coast ports between employers and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), whose members command average wages and benefits of about $1,200 a day, the continuing bottleneck is still causing job and revenue losses across many US industries.” The contract negotiations lasted over 9 months between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).

Unions are notorious for using slow downs, work stoppages, strikes and picket lines as a negotiating ploys to force” management” to sit down at the negotiating table to either listen to worker’s complaints and/or to respond to a demand for higher wages and “better and safer” working conditions for the workers in that particular union.    Read more » about Strikes and Slow Downs Have Long Tails

The team at Software Advice, a construction management software advisory firm, has sent along the results of their 2014 survey of potential buyers of construction software who contacted them for advice during the year. While not a scientific survey, the anecdotal results are revealing.

According to Forrest Burnson at Software Advice, "The most important thing that construction professionals need to realize is that the software they use is a tool; like any other tool, it's better to invest in something that adequately suits the user's needs and is well-made and reliable. I think a lot of construction firm owners experience a degree of sticker shock when they're looking to deploy specialized construction software, and that's understandable—if they're graduating from using QuickBooks or Microsoft Office, then the cost can seem excessive at first. But once they see how that specialized software not only saves them time, but also improves their bids and estimates and keeps them more organized, then it's easier for them to justify the investment. To put it another way: Few construction firms who deploy specialized software solutions ever go back to doing things the old-fashioned way."    Read more » about Construction Software Survey Update

The USW press release states, “The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today (March 12) that it has reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Shell Oil as a pattern agreement for the rest of the industry. The agreement accomplishes the major goals as directed by the USW’s oil conference in October of last year, and has been approved by union’s lead negotiators and National Oil Bargaining Policy (NOBP) Committee.

This tentative “national agreement” to end the six week strike action between the union and the energy industry was a response to the expiration of last wage agreement and the break down of talks. The strike was called on Feb 1, 2015 for workers at 15 union plants, including 12 refineries.    Read more » about It’s Not Over Until The Fat Man Signs

If you get motion sickness, don’t go to the 108-story Willis (Sears) Tower in Chicago on a windy day. The building sways so much that, not only will you get motion sickness, the elevator that you are riding in might get shut down or stuck in the shaft until the wind subsides. This, according to Justin McGar in a recent posting in Sourceable, is but an indicator of the design and engineering issues related to tall towers and the elements.

There are a wide variety of solutions that engineers apply to the newer designs for motion damping, including the use of stiffening or core design or mass and tuned liquid dampers that quiet the motion by acting as a counter balance to the pressures and motion of the wind.

Other buildings can induce added motion for buildings by creating a vortex that increases the speed of the wind as it hits the buildings around it. Proximity becomes a factor especially when tall buildings are clustered in cities like Chicago where wind is a constant.

One of the most important professionals involved in the design team for tall buildings has become the wind engineer. For the tall buildings being built these days, wind-engineers work side-by-side with the architects to tweak designs in order to counter the wind effects and reduce the sway, and ultimately, reduce the cost of those systems and the core and shell of the buildings.    Read more » about Designing the Wind Away!


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