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TOPIC: construction

This Happened

This Happened — September 20:  Lunch Atop A Skyscraper

On this day in 1932, the famous photo was taken that captured construction workers having lunch while sitting on a steel beam 850 feet above the ground during the construction of the Rockefeller Center in New York City.

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Gustave Eiffel: 100 Years Later, Still Defining 'French Entrepreneur'

The memory of the famous engineer-entrepreneur who designed much more than Paris' iconic Tower will be honored throughout 2023, on the occasion of the centenary of his death.

PARIS — He never stopped creating. Although the collective memory of Gustave Eiffel today only includes the name of the 330-meter-high iron tower that symbolizes the city of Paris , he was, throughout his life, an engineer and inventor genius inventor.

From the buildings he designed all over the world, to his discoveries in meteorology and aeronautics, his work is abundant and still largely unknown.

Says Myriam Larnaudie-Eiffel, a descendant of the inventor and head of the Association des descendants de Gustave Eiffel (ADGE, Association of Descendants of Gustave Eiffel in English).

Eiffel died in 1923, at the age of 91. To mark the centenary of his death, the association decided to draw up an inventory of his work. It's a titanic task: "We've listed 500 works in over 30 countries on five continents, but we know that there are between 700 and 800 others," says Larnaudie-Eiffel.

Eiffel's distinctive style of heavy yet airy steel structures is visible in a multitude of works that symbolize an era marked by a post-1870 recession economy, but also by the development of railways and industry, which needed to be built and rebuilt quickly and cost-effectively. Eiffel was to ride the wave of emerging steel construction, constantly improving and developing .

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This Happened — May 28: Golden Gate Bridge Opens

The Golden Gate Bridge was inaugurated on this day in 1937. Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933, taking a total of four years and three months.

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Droughts To Floods, Italy As Poster Child Of Our Climate Emergency

Floods have hit northern Italy after the longest drought in two centuries. Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini explains how these increasingly frequent events are being exacerbated by human activity.


FAENZA By now it is undeniable: on the Italian peninsula, the climate crisis is evident in very opposing extreme events (think drought and floods ), which occur close together and with increasing frequency. Until just a few days ago, almost the entire country was gripped by the longest drought in two centuries.

Now, however, extreme rainfall has hit the state of Emilia Romagna in the north of the country causing casualties and displacing over 10,000 people.

In 18 hours, the amount of rain that falls on average in a month has fallen. This has caused all rivers to overflow, flooding lowland towns and cutting off hillside towns due to landslides on many roads. Fields have become lakes and orchards that were at a crucial stage of ripening have been severely damaged.

It would be a blessing if this dreadful situation were a sporadic and isolated phenomenon, but unfortunately this is not the case.

What will happen tomorrow is unknown, yet we know it will happen.

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This Happened

This Happened — May 4: Ground Is Broken On The Panama Canal

The building of the Panama Canal started on this day in 1904. This man-made waterway connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and was built by the United States.

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Jan Schulte

Urban Mining: How Sustainable Cities Are Recycling Buildings Down To The Bone

As material costs skyrocket, an old practice is becoming popular again: reusing building materials. In Germany, the first projects are already underway – and so far, results are promising as a model for sustainable cities.

BERLIN — At first glance, Huthmacher Haus at Number 2 Hardenbergplatz in Berlin is nothing special: a large white concrete block.

The 60-meter-tall building opposite the Zoologischer Garten train station is rather inelegant – perhaps an acquired taste for lovers of post-War architecture. Having been built in 1957, non-architecture buffs might be more interested in the iconic yellow giraffe painted on the façade, a reference to the zoo around the corner.

Three years ago, investor Newport Holding wanted to tear the building down and replace it with a 95-meter-tall office complex. But the German historic monuments commission was against the idea – and suddenly, what was considered a useless concrete building became an example of a sustainable approach to using building materials.

The current owners, Bavarian company Bayerische Hausbau, want to renovate the building, preserving as much as possible and laying the groundwork for the materials to be reused in the future – an approach called urban mining .

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Jan Grossarth

Bricks Of Weed! The House Of The Future Could Be Made Of Hemp

Hemp has long had more uses than getting high. The plant is now increasingly being used in the construction of houses, with huge benefits for the climate. The only issue is growing enough to meet surging demand.

OLDENBURG — To be clear: Nobody smoked weed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first semi-detached house made of hemp in Lower Saxony in northwest Germany. This rite-of-passage ceremony to celebrate the completion of the building served nothing more than cold beer.

Christian Eiskamp had spent decades building single-family houses in the sprawling housing complexes in the south of Oldenburg, a city of just over 100,000 people. Then he had the intuition that the heyday of concrete could be coming to an end because of its poor impact on the climate . Searching on Google, he found hemp as an alternative building material.

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Laura-Maï Gaveriaux

The Mirage Of Egypt’s New Capital City

In an area the size of Singapore, Egypt is building its new capital. Constructed under the close control of the military and the head of state, the city embodies the grand ambitions of an increasingly autocratic president. But will it turn out to be a ghost city?

CAIRO — The concrete structure rises to a height of 1,263 feet (385 meters) on the edge of an expressway, where asphalt, as soon as it is laid down, lets out acrid fumes. With its double collar that licks the sky, the Iconic Tower is already the tallest building in Africa. It is also the flagship of this vast assembly of open-air construction sites over 450 square miles, an area the size of Singapore, which will be the location of the new Egyptian capital.

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Miguel Jurado

The Many Benefits Of Building With Bamboo

Drawing inspiration from his childhood in Colombia, architect Mauricio Cárdenas is convinced that the age-old material also has a bright future.

BUENOS AIRES — Bamboo has been used in construction for centuries, especially in places where it grows abundantly, like in hot and humid Southeast Asia. And yet, as Colombian architect Mauricio Cárdenas has discovered, there's still much to learn about the age-old material, and new, innovative ways to use it.

Earlier in his career, Cárdenas — the guest of honor at the upcoming Buenos Aires International Architecture Biennale (beginning Oct. 15) — focused on "typical" materials like steel, concrete and glass. Shortly after graduating, the Colombian worked for five years in Paris for the prominent Italian architect Renzo Piano, creator of the Pompidou Center among other memorable buildings. He then established himself in Milan where he followed through with his ideas on avant-guard design and sophisticated architecture .

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Anne Sophie Goninet

White Elephants Around The World, A Video Tour

Brazil struggled to complete the sporting venues needed for the Olympic Games, in Rio de Janeiro. But what about the brand new stadiums that were built especially for the FIFA World Cup , just two years ago? Although they cost billions, most of these stadiums now have a very low occupancy rate : The Arena Pantanal only hosted 47 matches in two years.

In retrospect, the South American giant may have taken on too much by hosting the back-to-back mega events. But it isn't the only country with high-cost buildings that look more like a burden than a monument to innovation and efficiency.

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China 2.0
Alain Ruello

Guangzhou, How Villages Get Swallowed Into A Megacity

In 2002, the major southern city gave developers a decade to revitalize 138 old villages as part of China's rapid urbanization. Almost 15 years later, only four have been revamped, and the last holdout residents still refuse to leave.

GUANGZHOU For the owners of Fuli, one of the leading developers of Guangzhou, May 18 marked a milestone seven years in the making. In a festive atmosphere with drums, incense and fireworks, they handed keys over for brand-new apartments to the people of Yangji, a village nestled in the heart of this megacity in southern China .

Merchants selling interior appliances, mattresses and furniture were quick to position their stalls at the foot of the new towers. Fifteen new buildings of 36 to 42 floors, surrounded by parks, playgrounds, and pools replaced nearly 1,500 dilapidated structures in the old village whose history can be traced all the way back to the Song dynasty, around the year 1000.

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Huang Zhilong*

What's Hit The Brakes On China's Foreign High-Speed Rail Ambition


BEIJING — On June 9, U.S. company XpressWest suddenly announced that it would end the joint venture agreement that it had signed with China Railway International to build a high-speed rail linking Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

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