A Grand Feat for Lower Manhattan

HAKS led the REI joint venture for this ambitious $40 million public works project that reconstructed water mains and utility infrastructure along Grand Street, from Broadway to Essex.  Subsurface challenges included active subways, non-functioning water main valves, active steam lines, underground building vaults extending into the street, and a high density of secondary electrical and communication lines.  Abandoned, heavily reinforced trolley track foundations also interfered with the work.  Continue Reading…

Earth Day and Arbor Day Notes

Ash Tree

Credit: W. Carter (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)

Having recently observed Earth Day, we thought it would be appropriate to share some tips for protecting the environment. First, however, since today is Arbor Day, it is important to take a moment to appreciate trees. Everyone knows that trees transform atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen during photosynthesis. Trees cool the Earth during this process as well, not only by removing the greenhouse gas CO2 but also by the absorption of sunlight used to synthesize hydrocarbons.

Trees are used as building materials and to manufacture paper. Four billion trees are cut down each year to produce paper; and compared to building joists or wooden furniture, the lifecycle of paper tends to be ephemeral—used once, and then discarded. About four million tons of paper that could be recycled are thrown out each year in the US—enough to build a 12-foot-high wall from New York to California. Paper consumption in offices is particularly egregious; 45 percent of office paper printed each day ends up in the trash. Continue Reading…

Drones Set to Take Off

Drone-4Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), popularly known as drones, were originally designed to carry out military missions that were deemed too dangerous for humans or for which manned aircraft were impractical. What we would recognize today as drones were jointly developed by Israel and the US during the 1980s and deployed against Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and have since become a staple of modern warfare and antiterrorism activities. However, due to ongoing improvements in technology and miniaturization and decreasing costs, the use of drones has since expanded far beyond the military sphere to many other applications, including science, recreation, aerial photography, product delivery, agriculture, law enforcement, surveillance, and even protecting elephants from poachers. Continue Reading…

Eco-Friendly Cooling from an Innovative Metamaterial

services-762103_960_720Conventional air conditioners are energy hogs. According to the US Department of Energy, air conditioning in the United States accounts for 117 million metric tons of CO2 released into the atmosphere every year. Air conditioning is expensive, too—according to the Texas utility Austin Energy, households in warmer regions of the country can expect cooling their homes to account for 60 to 70 percent of their summer electric bills. Continue Reading…

Action Steps to Improve Your City

As we begin 2017, HAKS would like to share Curbed New York’s suggestions on initiatives we can launch to improve our cities.  We have culled a small number from the list; you can access them all at 101 Small Ways You Can Improve Your City. Continue Reading…

2017: The Year of the Commuter

As we prepare to ring in the new year, we would like to highlight some projects that will reshape area transportation and ease the way for thousands of commuters.  One improvement will be ready for use as early as January 1st, when the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway opens.  Others should be evident a little later in the year—emotive lighting on bridges and tunnels and the north span of the new Tappan Zee Bridge.  One change is already in place—remnants of a World Trade Center passageway dating to the 1970s.

The HAKS Family wishes you and yours a happy and healthy 2017. Safe travels.
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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…

Defensive Walking

photo-1472545068001-62d94063edd2

photo-1423853978401-35df4077ff7dIn October, the de Blasio Administration announced that New York City was redoubling its efforts around Vision Zero as the City enters what is traditionally the deadliest time of year for pedestrians on New York City streets. Pedestrian incidents increase by nearly 40 percent in the early evening hours compared to crashes outside the fall and winter. Lower visibility during the dark hours of the colder months leads to twice as many crashes involving turns.  In 2015, the year with the fewest traffic fatalities in New York City’s recorded history, 40 percent of pedestrian fatalities occurred after October 1. 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…