Tag: structural inspection

Structural engineering

The Problems the Millennium Tower is Facing in San Francisco

When the $550 million construction for the Millennium Tower in San Francisco was announced, there were no shortage of buyers ready to spend millions of dollars to purchase living space. However, less than a decade later, those buyers have lost significant value in their investment due to various unforeseen issues to the tower.

Various structural engineering companies, as well as geotechnical companies, are evaluating the building daily to analyze the cracks, sinking and leaning that are clearly present. While the problems with the Millennium Tower are evident, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the safety of it, who is responsible for these issues and what structural engineering experts are going to do about it.

How Safe Is The Building Today?

The good news is the last time a structural engineer evaluated the building, it was deemed to be safe to live in, even if an earthquake occurred. However, the fact that the sinking of the building doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon can’t be ignored. Structural engineering experts estimate the building will continue sinking between 1.5” to 2” every year, which simply means action needs to be taken now to prevent a potential disaster in the ensuing years.

Where The Blame Lies

Initial inspections indicate the main problem being in the foundation of the Millennium Tower. The soil it’s built on consists of sand, clay and mud, and the foundation does not even extend far enough down to reach solid bedrock. There’s some controversy surrounding the City of San Francisco and why they allowed the construction and design team to not anchor the foundation low enough to reach the bedrock.

Another area of blame has to do with the construction of the transit center that was newly built adjacent to the tower. The construction company responsible for building the Millennium Tower is suggesting the company that constructed the transit center pumped too much groundwater during their project, which caused the sand under the Millennium Tower to compress, and has resulted in the sinking.

Possible Solutions To Fix The Millennium Tower

As structural engineering experts continue to discover the reasons why the Millennium Tower is experiencing these problems, they are also developing short-term and long-term solutions. One of the possible solutions includes removing some of the top floors in order to reduce the weight of the tower. The most discussed solution for the long-term is to bore micro piles on the side of the building that’s sinking in order to eventually anchor it to the bedrock underneath. Once this occurs, the high side of the building must sink to the level of the low side before the anchoring can occur. This proposed solution could take up to five years and cost several hundred million dollars, but it is the most viable solution for the long-term, as analyzed by structural engineering experts.

At BE Structural, we always monitor these types of stories and are actually involved in many of them. We are a structural engineering company with experts coming from many different backgrounds and having various levels of experience. If you have any specific questions about the problems the Millennium Tower in San Francisco is facing, or have a need for a structural engineer, contact us today.

Building envelope consultants

New Technology Monitors Building Envelopes

Smart building technology is currently being used throughout the engineering and construction industries in many ways and in varying degrees. Whether it’s controlling the temperature in a building, locking doors or windows or controlling lights and ceiling fans, technology makes monitoring a home or business much more convenient. With this advancement in technology, you can also monitor your building envelope.  A building envelope is the physical barrier that separates the exterior from the interior of a building.  Here are a few of the many benefits new technology offers when it comes to monitoring a building envelope.

How Smart Sensors Enhance Building Management

Software, sensors, analytics and automation all combine to enhance how a building is managed. Some of these sensors will use real-time weather data to control the temperature inside the building by automatically adjusting the HVAC system. On a similar note, technology can be used to monitor the performance of your HVAC system in general.

The real-time data shows the usage of the system, which could identify a potential issue if it appears to be working harder than it should. You can essentially take a snapshot of your building at any given time to identify problems and work toward improving efficiency by addressing any building envelope failures.

Potential Cost Savings With New Technology

One of the goals of a building envelope inspection is to identify areas where energy is being wasted. With smart technology, you can easily identify these areas right away and fix the problems promptly. Consequently, your HVAC system won’t have to work as hard and will result in energy savings. This technology will continue to advance, so the potential for more significant savings in the future is very likely.

Will Technology Eliminate The Need For Building Envelope Consultants and Inspections?

While some of the sensors can detect an issue, they can’t go to work to fix the issue. There’s still value in speaking with building envelope consultants and getting frequent evaluations, but it’s no secret that technology will make them less frequent in the future.

The Ins and Outs of Building Envelope Engineering

building envelope engineeringDepending on how much you know about the engineering industry, you may or may not have heard of building envelope engineering. However, it is a very important part of the engineering process, and involves the three basic components of a structure: the foundation, the walls and the roofing. If these parts of the building are not structurally sound, then the building itself is unstable and not fit for human use. It turns out that all three of these building components have one uniform purpose. The purpose of this article is to educate you on what they are, and how they’re a significant part of what structural engineers have to think about when they plan out an engineering project.

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Water and Ice: Your Building’s Worst Enemies

Prevent ice dams with a structural inspection.

A structural inspection can help prevent ice dams.

Did you know water can cause some of the greatest damage to your commercial and residential construction, even beyond other natural disasters? Understanding how water leakage occurs and what damage it can do, underscores the effect this force of nature can have on your building’s construction.  A forensic structural engineer will look for potential or current water damage during a structural inspection and suggest the necessary measures needed.

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