Airborne Trains Traveling on Strings

Unitsky String Transport (UST) is a transportation system developed by Russian inventor Anatoly Unitsky as a railway consisting not of steel tracks bolted to ties but rather elevated high-tension concrete- and steel-enveloped wires strung between towers, thereby offering rails that can traverse uneven terrain, forests, or water without the prohibitively expensive infrastructure required by conventional transit systems. Furthermore, UST can traverse obstacles in a straight line, thereby obviating the need to circumnavigate impediments or build switchbacks and considerably reducing the distance between two points.

Unitsky began developing the concept back in 1977. His design uses high-tension steel wires inserted into a concrete-resin core and enveloped by steel shells and elevated from three to 30 meters from the ground (or potentially even higher, if the terrain necessitates it). While this might sound like a conventional ropeway (like a chairlift or the Roosevelt Island Tramway), it differs in its much higher cable tension with sag of less than an inch between support posts, allowing vehicles to travel along the wires with a minimum of drag and at speeds, according to Unitsky, of between 200 and 300 mph. “In fact,” according to newatlas.com, “it’s more accurate to look at a UST track more or less as a tiny pre-stressed concrete bridge, built for a fraction of the cost of a ground rail system or even a motorway.” Continue Reading…

Engineering the Cities of the Future

downtown-nySmart Cities use data, information, and communications technology to streamline urban infrastructure activities such as transportation and traffic management, water supply networks, waste and wastewater management, and power plants to improve the lives of their residents. Smart Cities not only present challenges to the A/E industry, but opportunities as well. Smart buildings can utilize building management systems to save energy; transportation systems designed for autonomous vehicles can be designed with a streamlined footprint and more effective flow of traffic; municipal management systems can incorporate sustainable materials and green infrastructure; and affordable and efficient ground transportation can increase convenience and quality of life. Continue Reading…

Philadelphia Remembers: The June 5th Memorial Park

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Courtesy of Scott Aker, AIA

The City of Philadelphia is turning a tragedy into an opportunity for the community to commemorate those lost and remember the paramount importance of job safety.

On June 5th, 2013, the demolition of a vacant building at 2138 Market Street in Philadelphia collapsed a party wall, destroying a Salvation Army Thrift Store and resulting in six fatalities and many injuries. To ensure that this tragedy would not be forgotten, the City of Philadelphia decided to provide a contemplative respite for visitors while preserving the memory of those lost and projecting its commitment to public safety. Continue Reading…

Declaring “War” on Homeless Shelters

Earlier this month, Mayor de Blasio released the results of his aggressive program to inspect and repair violations in New York City’s homeless shelters. The numbers are impressive: in just two months, the city and shelter providers repaired almost as many violations as were fixed in all of 2015 and, in two months, the city conducted one-third as many inspections as it did in all of 2015. The February Shelter Repair Scorecard, which allows tracking of conditions and results, reported that:

  • The 2,660 inspections conducted in just two months in 2016 is almost one-third of the 8,665 inspections conducted in all of 2015. These inspections identified 11,125 new violations and conditions.
  • The two-month total of 12,026 repairs completed is almost as many as the total 12,934 violations cleared in all of 2015.
  • Of the 330 non-cluster city homeless shelters, 157 sites had ten or fewer violations; 90 of those sites had five or less. (A cluster shelter refers to groups of individual apartments in larger buildings, and the violation total includes all violations in each building, not those solely relating to the cluster units. The city plans to phase out the use of such cluster shelters and return them to the market to serve as low-rent housing.)
  • The 303 cluster shelters, which house only 23 percent of the total shelter population, had 14,054 violations, or 68 percent of the total.
  • The Scorecard lists 26 cluster buildings with 315 units designated for closure this fiscal year.

Continue Reading…

ACE Mentor Program: Investing in the Future

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Bronx Design and Construction Academy Students

Some commitments have a ripple effect. Such is the case with the ACE Mentor Program, a not-for-profit organization where professionals mentor New York City high school students in preparation for careers in design and construction. HAKS has been a long-time supporter of the program, with individual employees volunteering as mentors. This year, we are proud to have formed our own mentoring team and are eager to share our industry knowledge with deserving students in the Greater New York City area. Continue Reading…

OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City

DSC07801 REVLast month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released OneNYC: The Plan for a Strong and Just City, the successor to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability oversaw its development and shares responsibility with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency for ensuring its implementation. OneNYC addresses challenges such as a population of 9 million by 2040, changing climate conditions and aging infrastructure through principles of growth, sustainability, resiliency and equity. The plan builds on the four core challenges addressed in past PlaNYC reports with the addition of growing inequality, the importance of the region and New York City “voices”—a reference to the necessary input of a broad range of residents. The plan also acknowledges the growing gap between “technology haves and have-nots.” Continue Reading…

HAKS Uses 3D Software to Transform Downtown Building

225 bowery 3D Section_4 (2)HAKS’ Architecture/Facilities Design studio provides clients with full design and construction phase services for new and existing facilities and employs state-of-the-art technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM).

As the Architect of Record, HAKS is utilizing an empowering BIM software to repurpose a 10-story, 100-year-old building in Lower Manhattan into a micro-hotel by adding four stories and a sub-basement level.  Revit software is specifically designed for BIM, enabling design and construction professionals to bring ideas from concept to fruition with a coordinated and consistent approach.  This single application includes features for architectural design, MEP and structural engineering and construction, helping to maintain a vision of the final product from design through construction. Continue Reading…