Jim Kollaer's blog

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!

I remember the first time I crossed a strike picket line. It was at a construction site for a Holly Sugar Beet processing plant in Hereford, Texas. The electricians union who wanted higher pay for their workers called the strike. The picket line was comprised of my neighbors who I carpooled the 90 miles to the construction site with most days. Once they struck, they refused to give me a ride and were suddenly calling me a scab even though I worked in the engineer’s office on the drafting board. Serious stuff for them. Scary for me. Shut down the site for a week. That was then, this is now.

Today, members of the United Steel Workers (USW) are on a five-week strike at several of the major refineries in the country while the negotiators work to replace the “three year collective bargaining agreement that expired at the beginning of February”. The strike action is over what the unions call unfair labor practices (ULP) claiming that the industry has neglected the “health and safety” of their workers.   Read more » about Steelworkers Still on Strike

Jim Kollaer's picture

Google Away!

by Jim Kollaer on Fri, 03/06/2015 - 7:30am

One of the coolest things afoot in Silicon Valley is the new Google headquarters building, if you can call it a building; it's more a living environment. The company has announced it is venturing into robotics, and the new headquarters will use robots, no, “Crabots” to be able to reconfigure the spaces over night once the original buildings are complete.

Nathan Donato-Weinstein, a Real Estate reporter for the Silicon Valley Business Journal, is tracking the progress of all things real estate in the valley. He recently penned an article for the SVBJ about the “Crabots” as well as several other articles about the leading edge design of the new facilities, a la the morphed geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller. These articles show some of the design features of the new buildings, but also chronicle several interviews that he has had with the designers and engineers of the facility.    Read more » about Google Away!

We hear that question a lot on the Internet these days, but my question refers to the picture of a class of students who attend the Career Pathways Institute in Grand Island, Nebraska finishing concrete for a townhouse project for Ryan Bartels Construction Company.

The story chronicles the way that one of those students, Caleb Wardyn, a senior at Central Catholic high school found a part-time job with Bartels. It also talks about how Bartels, a staunch supporter of the CPI construction pathway, brought Caleb and 11 other students who are in the construction pathway at CPI to work on a project where they get “hands-on” experience while they are still in school.    Read more » about What’s Wrong with this Picture?


Subscribe to RSS - Jim Kollaer's blog