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Weekly Grind: Permits for Safety and Beyonce Tower


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Boston's New Ordinance Ties Permitting to Safety Record

The mayor of Boston himself filed the ordinance, and the City Council approved it. All that's left now is for the eager mayor to sign it, and that is happening any day now. In the wake of a widely publicized construction accident that resulted in the deaths of two workers, city officials will soon have the authority to deny, revoke, or suspend an applicant's permit based solely on the applicant's safety record. Safety advocates are seeing this as a game changer.

Tour the World's Most Anticipated Concert Hall. By Drone.

The Hamburg Concert Hall was $730 million over budget and seven years late. Having said that, it is an architectural and engineering wonder whose construction shouldn't have been possible and whose innovations are boggling. Here is a drone's-eye tour that captures the strange, grand flavor of the place, which opens in January 2017. Endeared locals have already affectionately dubbed the edifice "Elfi".

Neighborly Concerns Add $600,000 to Middle School Redesign

A middle school being built in a western suburb of Chicago has generated a lot of interest, heat and commentary from neighboring homes. At this writing the district is spending about $600,000 in design changes to accommodate those very vocal neighbors. Let's hope they're satisfied wth the result.

Bamboo Joins Wood as Promising New Building Material 

Wood has been dominating the construction news cycle for months, the stories excitedly predicting the renaissance of wood as a prime building material and renewable resource. Well, Bamboo wants in on the action. Lightweight and steel-strong (some varieties, anyway), bamboo's use in doors, flooring, windows and walls makes it, if not as completely marvelous and all-purpose as wood, a fast-growing and important augmentation.

Canada's Retaliatory Tariff Makes U.S. Drywall Unaffordable

Canada has accused the U.S. of dumping drywall on the Canadian marketplace, and so has raised the import tax (or tariff) on incoming U.S. gypsum board by a stunning 227% to discourage the practice. What does this mean? For one thing, it means the average price of a home in Canada just went up ~ $13,000.

Chicagoan's Mission: Rescue the Past from Construction's Present

Eric Nordstrom is scared. Every time a new building goes up in the Chicago area he sees the possibility of a bit of Chicago's past being turned to construction dust. What's a freaked-out amateur historian to do? Arrive ahead of the heavy equipment and get your team's hands dirty, of course.

African Mega-Infrastructure Projects Planned 

Enormous hydroelectric dams, gigantic "tech hubs", a solar farm the size of a small town—this photo-essay tells a story.  Africa's population will double by 2050. The continent has some groundwork to do.

Turkey Opens Tunnel Under Bosporus

The Bosphorus strait runs through the middle of Istanbul, in Turkey, and famously comprises part of the line that divides Europe and Asia. Now Turkey has ceremoniously opened a traffic tunnel  that runs beneath the famous waterway. With a reported capacity of 100,000 cars a day, the tunnel is intended to relieve the massive traffic flow that crowds the river's bridges, but almost as important is the symbolic, continent-joining significance of the engineering feat.

Ice Hotel Caters to a Frigid Clientele

Should you happen to be traveling 124 miles north of the Arctic Circle, do take a short detour through Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, and check into ICEHOTEL 365. As its name implies, this is a hotel made entirely of (wait for it...) ice; and unlike other ice hotels that wax and wane with the seasons (yeah, there are several others), Jukkasjärvi stays cold enough year round to keep ICEHOTEL 365 true to its name. It is now the only year-round ice hotel in the world. Bring extra sheets.

Beyonce-Inspired Apartment Tower Breaks Ground

In Melbourne, Australia they're calling this residential skyscraper the "Beyonce Tower". Why? Because Architecture firm Elenberg Fraser has confessed that the 79-story tower's curvaceous design is based on an algorithmic model meant to mimic the singer's curves. When architects are fanboys, anything can happen.

Green Buildings Boost Productivity

Just when you were beginning to love the idea of environmentally friendly offices, here comes a Harvard study to confirm what you had already suspected: Green buildings and the radiant good health their workers enjoy are being leveraged to make us produce more. 

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