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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New Application for Mood Ring Technology

mood-ringThe mood ring, a popular fad in the late 1970s, is a specialized liquid crystal thermometer typically ornamented with a faux gemstone (usually made of quartz or glass). Temperature changes in the wearer’s finger cause the crystal to reflect different wavelengths of light, which change the color of the stone.  Green is considered normal or average, while blue is calm and relaxed and black is stressed and tense. Continue Reading…

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

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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…

A Salt Shed as a Civic Monument

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With the full heat of the long summer just kicking in, this past February’s Winter Storm Jonas, which dumped a record 27.5 inches of snow in Central Park, can seem like a distant memory. Notwithstanding that December 2015 was the warmest on record, New York City will continue to be slammed by storms like Jonas and the blizzards of 2006 and 1996, as well as snowstorms that might be more mundane but nevertheless paralyzing to city streets in their own right. That is why residents of Lower Manhattan can look upon the New York City Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) new Spring Street Salt Shed as a comfort and reassurance as the next inevitable winter looms on the distant horizon—and, given its unique, striking design, as an object of civic pride. 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.

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ACEC New York Recognizes Two HAKS Projects For Engineering Excellence

This year, ACEC New York has recognized two high-profile transportation projects—one in New York and one in Connecticut. The Gowanus Expressway (I-278) in Brooklyn, New York, is a critical component of New York City’s highway system, connecting the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, a distance of approximately six miles. The approximately 200,000 vehicles that utilize the Gowanus Expressway each day will undoubtedly benefit from the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) extensive improvements to this transportation corridor.BeFunky Collagebl

I-95 between Interchange 14 and 15 in Norwalk, Connecticut, had been referred to as “the worst highway choke point on the I-95 corridor” prior to recent upgrades by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT). Continue Reading…