Jim Kollaer's blog

We have written about autonomous or driverless vehicles as an early signpost for technology changes in the industry.  Komatsu and Rio Tinto are two names on the forefront of autonomous vehicles in the construction and mining industry.  Komatsu, a Japanese company known around the world for its heavy-duty construction machinery, has made a commitment to developing autonomous heavy vehicles that can be used to improve production and payback on some of the largest sites and mines in the world.  That program is named “FrontRunner”, and it has been deployed to two sites, one in a copper mine in Chile and the second in Australia.   Read more » about Komatsu Pioneers Autonomous Vehicles for Mining Sites [VIDEO]

Jack Eimer, president of the Central Region of Transwestern, a privately held full service real estate firm, talked recently about the future impact of technology on the users of office space with Marc Allen, Transwestern property manager.

The discussion was part of Transwestern’s Ask the Expert series. In this particular issue, Eimer asks Allen to speak to the technology changes that will impact those users of office space who are signing 10-year leases today.

Allen responds by saying, “Imagine what it would be like if employees commuted to work in automated cars. After arriving at work, the employee’s car would drive back home – alone. At the end of the workday, it would come back to pick up its owner, or perhaps even carpool participants. The cars will probably be electric so all the extra transit would not cost a fortune in gas. Additionally, the commute time could be productive rather than stress-inducing. It may sound like science fiction, but driverless vehicles are already being used successfully by Google, mining/minerals firm Rio Tinto and others.” Read more » about Transwestern Talks Technology

The design and construction skills, technology, mechanics and financing in parts of the world today are making it possible to create buildings that are approaching the “mile high” tower that the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright wrote about in the 1950s.  These new towers, being designed by collaborative teams taking 3-6 years in the design phase and the same to construct, are currently limited only by demand, materials and technology and stretch the limits of construction technology.  Not only that, but they will have to withstand the environment for at least 50 years into the future.

Today, the tallest building in the world is the 2,717-foot (829.8 meter) tall Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai built by Besix and designed by SOM.  Now Adrian Smith, (the designer of the Burj Khalifa when he was at SOM), is part of the Chicago firm Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill (AS+GG) who is designing the Kingdom Tower for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that will top out at 3,280 feet or one kilometer tall when it is completed.  A construction contract has just been awarded to the Saudi Binladen Group (SBG) for the construction expected to take over 5 years.  SBG is the world’s largest construction company with over 100,000 employees.

Not only are these buildings tall, they employ more energy efficiency into their designs according to “Tall Buildings,” an article written by Peter Fairley a Paris and British Columbia based journalist, in the September/October issue of Green Source Magazine.   Read more » about Tall, Really Tall, Super-tall, Mega-tall, Hyper-tall and “OMG”-tall Buildings

According to a recent article in Construction Executive’s Tech Trends, the world’s first “invisible” building has been granted a building permit by the South Korean government for a location just outside of Seoul, Korea near the Incheon International Airport.

A press release from the California-based GDS Architects announcing the permit approval includes the following statement about the design of the 1,476-foot-tall “Infinity Tower”:

“GDS in collaboration with Samoo Architects and A&U were awarded first prize in a National Design Competition sponsored by Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LH) to provide Design and Engineering services for the 450 meter tall Observation Tower poised to become Korea's National Landmark back in April 2011.  In addition, GDS Architects won the original International Idea Competition out of 146 entries from 46 countries in December of 2008.”

The Construction Executive article says that the building “will include observation decks, movie theaters, a water park, a roller coaster, restaurants and bars.”  Construction is scheduled to begin next year.   Read more » about Tall, Taller, Tallest and now Invisible Buildings!

During the 1980s recession, a commercial development firm with the name BOHICA started in Houston.  The name of the firm was a mystery until we discovered the origin of the name.  The principals of the firm told me that it meant “Bend Over, Here it Comes Again”.

Funny in a weird sort of way, but if you are a residential or commercial developer, contractor or sub today I have one word for you – BOHICA.

By now many suppliers, contractors and subs have received 2014 price notification letters from the major gypsum producers like American Gypsum, CertainTeed, and National Gypsum.  The letters, addressed “To all our Customers”, state that there will be a 20% price increase beginning January 1, 2014 for all gypsum products, and that the price will hold throughout the 2014 year.  That sounds familiar since around this time last year we wrote that there were 25 and 30 percent increases over the last two years as supplies diminished and demand grew.  While the industry is not recovering as fast as originally predicted, the prices are growing faster than the economy.   Read more » about Gypsum Wallboard Prices Increase Again for 2014

The newest, “earthquake proof” bay bridge opened earlier this month on Labor Day to the delight of thousands of commuters in cars, on bikes and on foot who have been waiting for two decades for the new bridge to open.

An earthquake during the 1989 World Series collapsed two fifty-foot long sections of the original bridge.  Commuters have been waiting over two decades for a replacement bridge that ultimately cost $6.4 billion (5 times the original estimate).  The engineers and contractors have claimed the new bridge will withstand the most severe earthquake that will likely occur over the next 1500 years, even though none of them or us will be around to monitor it.   Read more » about The Other Story of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

Software Advice's ERP Analyst Derek Singleton recently posted a blog that points out three major findings from the construction firms that they surveyed for their latest research.

First, “Users of construction estimating software produce faster and more accurate bids.”

Second, “Construction estimating software users report fewer challenges with their system.”
Third, “These results were more pronounced among medium- and large-sized companies.”   Read more » about Survey Reveals the Current State of Estimating Software in the Construction Industry

AGC Smart Brief noted that David Benjamin and a team at Columbia University are developing bacteria-based processes that could be produced as commercially available construction materials within the next 8-10 years, showing us that quantum change is going on behind the scenes today that will ultimately change the face of construction as we know it.

The referenced article is called Designing and Building with Bacteria Could be the Future of Architecture, and it originally appeared in Inhabitat, a publication that features new and leading-edge discoveries in a number of fields that will impact our lives and industries in the near future.

We think that whether you are in the industry today or just entering the industry, you should pay close attention to some of the “new stuff” being talked about here and in other forums.   Read more » about Bacteria Used in Building Construction?

The Green Building Education Services (GBES) newsletter this week announced that they have printed a Treehugger blog entry by Lloyd Alter entitled LEED-bashing: Is the Bank of America Building really a "toxic tower"?  This entry takes a little different and somewhat more in-depth view of the LEED aspects of the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park which I wrote about previously.  Following an outline of the building’s “green” attributes, including its energy use compared to other buildings, Alter writes:

“Every urbanist and architect says that New York is so green because of the way people are packed in and the fact that they don't drive. They claim that energy use per capita is the metric that matters. Yet here they don't know that basic metric and call the building a toxic energy hog.   Read more » about BOA Tower – Another View

The Bank of America Tower in the city of New York was given the designation of LEED Platinum as the first tower in the city to achieve that rating.  According to Al Gore, one of its early tenants, the building was to be perhaps the most sustainable high rise in the country and a model for other buildings.

Unfortunately, according to World Property Channel, an article in the New Republic disclosed that the building is the largest “energy hog” in the city, not a good thing.

The articles point out that while the LEED certification process looks good on paper, has implications for architects and owners, can achieve tax breaks for owners and developers, and is an attractive tool for leasing agents looking for “green oriented” tenants, the operating realities of those buildings may not meet expectations of the users and the proponents of the LEED process.  World Property Channel Global Editor Kevin Brass writes:

“The Bank of America experience shows how easy it is to undermine good intentions. There really is no mystery behind the building's energy usage. A third of the leasable space is filled by huge financial trading floors, packed with electricity-guzzling computers and monitors, not to mention the servers and the systems needed to cool the space and equipment.   Read more » about New York’s Greenest Building: Maybe Not!


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