Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Structural Engineer's Nightmare

What is it with architects? They're always pushing the limits of feasibility. I suppose that's a good thing, and I usually admire, if grudgingly, their creativity. After all, if it were left up to us engineers, every building would be perfectly square with no windows and little regard for asthetics or other such frivolities. Generally speaking, however, we do like to design buildings so that they stay in one place. Apparently, thanks to an Italian architect, we will no longer have to suffer the idignity of living in such boring stationary structures, as he has decided to build a skyscaper that moves...on purpose.
"Italian architect Dr. David Fisher announced on Tuesday the launch of a revolutionary skyscraper in Dubai dubbed as the "world's first building in motion", an 80-story tower with revolving floors that give it an ever-shifting shape. The spinning floors, hung like rings around an immobile cement core, would offer residents a constantly changing view of the Persian Gulf and the Dubai's futuristic skyline."
I can only imagine the complexity of trying to design such a structure. Which brings us to this rather reassuring paragraph:
"Fisher acknowledges that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and hasn't practiced architecture regularly in decades. But he insisted his lack of experience wouldn't stop him from completing the project, which has attracted top design talent, including Leslie E. Robertson, the structural engineer for the World Trade Center and the Shanghai World Financial Center. "I did not design skyscrapers, but I feel ready to do so," Fisher said."
Well, at least he "feels ready". Thankfully, he's got an experienced structural engineer on the team, and I'm sure it'll be the subject of a Discovery channel show very soon. So, we'll all get to see how this thing goes together. According to the article, each floor will be prefabricated, and shipped to the site for installation. MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) systems will negotiate the interface between rotating floors and the immobile core using technology similar to that used by aircraft for in-flight refueling. Apparently, the entire building will be powered by wind turbines mounted at every floor, and tenants will be able to park their cars in their own apartments, thanks to a special lift system. Pretty ambitious! And they say New York will get one as well.

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