/ Column / Oversite: No Shortage of Challenges

Oversite: No Shortage of Challenges

Matt Ball on April 3, 2016 - in Column

One of the more-fulfilling, although certainly sometimes frustrating, aspects of engineering is the endless array of challenges. This relates to new projects where site, budget and even regulatory constraints might call for a creative solution. It also relates to the increasing issues of our aging infrastructure and need to address that deficit in a meaningful way with new approaches that improve performance in the most cost-effective manner.

One of the more-rewarding aspects of our reporting is the constant good news about technological advancements, policy directives and engineering ingenuity that are tackling challenges head on. The continuum tilts toward solutions powered by model-based design to do things better, faster and cheaper.

In this issue, we have several great examples of individuals and firms that have overcome obstacles. Our profiles at the back of the book detail engineers who are pushing what’s possible in bridge retrofit and the recycling of concrete material. We also detail technologies and processes that are greatly improving our understanding for a more-holistic facility-management approach.

Shoehorned Site

This month’s cover story about the challenging site footprint of 150 N. Riverside Plaza in Chicago is a great case in point on engineering ingenuity. The site constraints, including the existence of a railyard and requirements for public park space, were enough to leave this prime riverside lot unoccupied for decades.

A daring design with a small building footprint, with stories 8 through 54 cantilevered over the core, required innovative thinking and engineering. Be certain to read this story for details on the challenges and how various modeling software ensured that the exacting requirements of the steel superstructure were executed as modeled. This building is truly one of the year’s signature engineering accomplishments.

Mend and Reuse

The structural engineering work done by our profile subjects provides two stories of new approaches that are being put through rigorous testing to pave the way for more-efficient and cost-effective solutions.

In the case of our “Future Forward” engineer, you’ll learn about bridge assessment on a statewide scale. The work progressed from assessment to remediation plans, saving the state of Oregon more than $500 million by providing reliable and low-cost solutions that avoided the “destroy and rebuild” bill previously faced.

The continuum tilts toward solutions powered by model-based design to do things better, faster and cheaper.

Our “Change Leader” profile outlines research being done to improve the sustainability of recycled concrete. Instead of the typical low-value method of using such concrete for road base, the engineer is leading a team to quantify the performance of this material so it can be used for higher-value purposes.

Back to School

A college campus provides an interesting laboratory for facility and space management given its dynamic nature and need to manage all aspects of a complex whole. This level of facility management comes with challenges of competing schedules and functions as well as varying ages of building stock and infrastructure that require new levels of system understanding. Model-based design, GIS and asset-management tools have a huge role to play in bringing details together and enabling new insight.

We profile two top-tier institutions that set out to map and model the entire campus environment for improved planning and decision making as well as ongoing operations and maintenance. Harvard initiated a 3D campus map of building exteriors as well as interiors with plans to add dynamic interactions to see how spaces are utilized. The Ohio State University tackled the conversion of 2D CAD files to 3D BIM files for its entire campus to better-inform planning as well as model energy and sustainability issues.

It’s our ongoing commitment to provide you with information on your peers who are pointing the way forward. Thankfully, inspiring individuals and projects are all around us. If you have an inspiring story to tell, please be sure to contact me at mball@v1-media.com.

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About Matt Ball

Matt Ball is a former editor and publisher of V1 Media.

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