Jim Kollaer's blog

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!

I know it sounds strange, but as we have reported previously, strange things happen in Las Vegas every day.  According to Arabian Business, “The Harmon Hotel tower, co-owned by MGM Resorts International, was designed as a 48-storey component of the AED31.2bn ($8.5bn) CityCenter project, which opened in December 2009.”  The “Harmon project” was designed to be a non-gambling hotel and retail project that is located at the entrance of the CityCenter development underwritten by Dubai World, the investment arm of the government of Dubai.

Investigators found that there were structural flaws in the concrete structure’s reinforcing steel that could possibly lead to a collapse of the building in a strong earthquake.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported:

“Chukwuma Ekwueme, the Southern California-based structural engineering expert for CityCenter, said more than 7,000 defects were observed during the fourth testing phase.  Ekwueme said 100 percent of the elements tested contained at least one defect that required repair. Almost all elements contained multiple diverse defects.”

Construction was halted, and the court recently granted demolition permission for the unfinished building.  The Arabian Business article continues:   Read more » about Sometimes We Tear Them Down Before They Are Finished!

Nissan joined GM and announced this week that they plan to have cars that can drive themselves in production by 2020, but I am not sure that will be soon enough after what I saw on the way to breakfast.

As I turned north onto one of the main thoroughfares in Houston Friday morning, I saw a woman driving a very large black SUV with a cell phone in each hand on the steering wheel as she made her way through rush hour traffic.  Sure, we are all used to seeing folks with their cell phones glued to the side of their heads, but one in each hand seems a bit extreme even for Houston.  And yes, I know that she at least had both hands on the steering wheel.  I wonder whether there were kids in the back seat?

So, Nissan’s announcement that they are working with the scientists and designers at MIT and the University of Tokyo to have “a commercially viable autonomous driving system in multiple vehicles by 2020” might need to be accelerated by a few years.  John Capp, GM's director of electrical controls and active safety technology told reporters that each driver of these vehicles would still be in control and able to override the computer system.   Read more » about Autonomous Cars By 2020 Won't Be Soon Enough!

My architectural colleague, Bob Borson, is an architect and blogger in Dallas.  He “pens” a blog site called Life of an Architect.  I read each and every one of his blogs since he writes about subjects that any of us who are architects or who are in the construction industry will find interesting.

This week’s subject is an extension of the series of Bags that he started by showing everything he carries in his messenger bag.  His list ranged from the sublime to the truly useful and even some items that I use from time to time like graphite pencils and sketch paper.

This week he does a very structured layout of the items that can be found in the typical drywaller’s bucket.  The bucket is imperative because the drywall contractor’s tools would destroy a messenger bag in a few days. nbsp; Read more » about What’s in a Drywaller’s Bucket?

Wow!  A friend forwarded the following pictures of the new World Trade Center to me.  The view is spectacular to say the least, but this is really hard work.  Volunteers?


 
Read more » about Amazing Images of One World Trade Center

School starts again in a month or so across the nation and thousands of middle school and high school students will be asked to think about “what they want to be when they grow up” and to examine the careers available to them and to decide which path they will pursue.

Just in time for the start of the school year, Trilogy Publications LLC has released the third book in their “Those Amazing…” series called Those Amazing Builders. The goal of this new publication is to get the word out to students about the opportunities in the construction industry. This 34-page, full color look at construction industry jobs and the impact that builders and designers have on the world is a great overview for students considering a possible career in construction.

The project was underwritten by sponsors which included Skanska USA at the highest Diamond level, Ingersoll Rand at the Platinum level, RailWorks and Willis Group at the Gold level, and the General Contractors Association of New York, HOK, and the New York Building Congress all at the Silver level.

I recently spoke with Rose Reichman, principal at Reichman Frankle, Inc., an award winning professional firm providing marketing, communications and public relations services for the Engineering and Construction Industry, about this publication.   Read more » about Those Amazing Builders

We won’t say that the energy industry is “high on the success” of the recent development of the oil fields of West Texas, but they might be getting mighty close when real estate developers announce a monumental high rise to be built in the Permian Basin.

That exact thing happened recently when Energy Related Properties partners Wendall “Scooter” Brown and Bill Meyer announced a 58-story mixed-use spec building in downtown Midland called Energy Tower at City Center designed to show that Midland is truly the “Oil Capital of America.”

The Midland City Council bought the old County Courthouse site for $2.2 million to make way for this proposed building that, according to the brochure, will contain 564,000 square feet of Class A office space, a 198 room luxury hotel, 230,000 square feet of luxury residences, 53,500 square feet of retail, an entertainment center, and five levels of underground parking and infrastructure.  You can watch a 4-minute video below which highlights the features of the project which is scheduled to be completed in 2016.

The building designed by Edmonds International will rise out of Centennial Park in the heart of downtown Midland, and will be the tallest building in Midland by a factor of over two.  Currently the Bank of America Building which opened in 1978 is the tallest, standing 24-stories high.   Read more » about New High Rise Proposed for West Texas [VIDEO]

Houston is having a major growth spurt in Class A buildings, and Hines is moving forward on its latest entry in that market with a major office building that will be located at 609 Main Street or Block 69.

Ralph Bivins, editor at Realty News Report, says that the building schedule and size are being increased in order to meet the growing demand for Class A space in the Central Business District (CBD) market.

Currently, Class A space in the Houston CBD market is approaching 93% occupied, and that has helped Hines move forward at an accelerated pace, despite the fact that they have not yet announced any major tenants for the building they are projected to break ground on in the first quarter of 2014.  The building will be ready for occupancy by 2016.

Even though the initial plans for the Pickard Chilton-designed build showed 41 floors and 815,000 square feet, the latest rendering shows a larger building of 50-plus floors indicating that it might approach 1 million square feet.

The site is located on the Main street rail line and near the Chase Bank Tower   Read more » about Hines Pushes the Accelerator in Downtown Houston

(Photo: Business Wire)

Chevron announced an expansion to its facilities in downtown Houston in a recent press release. The announcement said, “The 50-story, 1.7 million-square-foot building will be located at 1600 Louisiana Street at Pease. Together with Chevron’s existing properties at 1500 Louisiana and 1400 Smith, the buildings will comprise an urban campus with indoor and outdoor common areas, enhanced dining facilities, a fitness center, training and conference facilities, and additional parking.”

According to the company press release, Houston is headquarters to nine of its business and those businesses currently employ 9,000 employees and contractors in the Houston region.

The building, designed by HOK, will be located next to two other high-rise office buildings to create an urban campus. According to Bereket Haregot, president of Chevron’s Business and Real Estate Services division, “The new building and expanded urban campus will provide a first-rate work environment for our employees and help us remain the employer of choice.” Read more » about Chevron Announces New Downtown Houston Campus

Google's self-driving car

We interrupt this construction blog to bring you some news about disruptive technologies that will impact your business and lives sooner rather than later.

I know that this is a construction-focused blog, but we think that we should at the very least talk about the technology happenings that may impact the industry. Besides, if nothing else, it will give you some great “woo woo” conversation points over cocktails at your next networking event.

We have talked about the tallest buildings in the world and we thought that we would talk a little about two subjects, the 3D printer and the new McKinsey report on Disruptive Technologies, that are headed your way. Read more » about Disruptive Technologies

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