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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Leaning Tower of Portland?

A reader writes:

So I'm walking with my boy in his stroller about an hour ago in South Waterfront. (I know how you feel about the place, but they do seem to be trying to do a good job creating a dense new neighborhood from scratch. But...)

So I get to talking with a security guard and he points out the building closest to the river, one of the tall glass towers. "See anything odd about it?" Then he tells me that the building was built with insufficient allowances for the river soil subsiding. According to what he heard, the building has a ten degree list. He says eight more degrees and it gets condemned.

The things you hear when you've got a blog...

Comments (23)

Ten degrees? That seems pretty extreme.

Heh! When the condo tower starts leaning like the tram tower...

Maybe the river needs more Viagra?

Come on. Here's what 3.97 degrees looks like.

Nevertheless, if there's any truth to it, I'm sure a taxpayer-financed bailout will be in order.

You on the level?

Maybe it was 0.8 as opposed to 8 degrees? In any event, usually tips like these turn out to have at least a kernel of truth in them.

Those otherwise unemployable old coot security guards often have no loyalty to the Mafia and sometimes find great joy in spilling the beans.

Now, lets ask a janitor.

Five will get you ten this is another example of a developer playing the "engineer's stamp" card. Under our fair city's planning regs, you can't build it if it doesn't meet The Code. That is, unless you can get a registered engineer to stamp your plans. The stamp of a registered engineer trumps the code, or the expertise of staff reviewing plans, on structural issues.

Of course, all of our developers are good scouts, kind to animals, etc, and would NEVER, EVER, EVER take advantage of this in order to get a structurally deficient building put up.

Sorry Io don't buy this at all.
For all SoWa's calamities this is not one of them. No way. The modern day foundation requirements for a building like this are engineeered to the extreme.

It's unfathomable that it is tilting.

Further, the "obvious and overlooked design flaw" is an urban legend staple. The story this guard is telling is absolutely not true. On the other hand, urban legends do arise as cautionary tales against ignorance and irresponsibility, so perhaps it is instructive at least insofar as it depicts the tower as an emblem of the dangers of hasty, corrupt, reckless and uninformed speculation.

The towers being constructed in SoWa are being done so with the polar opposite approach the PDC uses for the public improvements. Professionally engineered, designed, estimated, managed and every dollar accounted for.

Hoffman would never use the reckless and irresponsible methods our tax dollars fund.

If the PDC ever gets an audit we'll see the full extent of the inept waste saturating and mounting in SoWa.

I'm not that kind of engineer, but my understanding is that foundations for this type of building are set on pilings that are anchored in bedrock.

That's not to say there aren't engineering deficiencies, but think about it: how could you build something that tall without anchoring it to something more solid than dirt?

For all SoWa's calamities this is not one of them. No way. The modern day foundation requirements for a building like this are engineeered to the extreme.

I work with engineers all the time. They're not perfect, and do make mistakes. Sometimes big ones.

That said, they also have to base their calcs on soil info taken by others. The problem could come from there too.
The weight of the building could cause unforseen problems as well. Particularly that close to the river.

I know that the nature of the soil down there was not overlooked, and buildings are definitely required to deal with it.

Not that they couldn't have screwed it up somehow, but it definitely has not been overlooked. Sky scraper professionals know a gravel-covered flood plain when they see one.

Yay! A new icon!

A good while back , a student discovered that the engineering design for the Famous NY CitiCorp tower was flawed ,leaving it weak to strong wind. After a long effort to convince his Prof , and the legendary Engineer and Architects of the tower , a top secret fix was designed , and many welders were snuck into the building to repair the weakness. WEEEEEE

Yay! A new icon!

Actually, it's a linchpin.

I call bullsh*t.

The 8 story parking garage on 1st and Jefferson had a similar top secret night-time repair (I think it was some kind of epoxy injection) to major structural cracks that threatened to topple the building. This happened in the 80's so it must have worked ok.

It will only be a problem if it is leaning to the right.

How could that be when the forces of Portlandia push all things to the left?

The leaning could lend "authenticity" to this faux-european magic kingdom. Please follow up on this(conduct a egg drop?)(measure with a laser pointer?) . Robert Thompson and Hoffman are busy trying to reconfigure Eugene(you owe Nike arena and sport-themed entertainment district-"walnut node") and this accomplishment/disaster is related I believe.

Also in TVA boondoggle news, the verdict of the Fairmount vs. UO/Nike/TVA/Hoffman arena project appeal case gets released on June 3. It may be appealed again to a higher court by the Fairmount neighbors. Since the boregonian and cashregister guard endorsed and rushed this(like good ol sustainability boys do)I do not suppose they will be updating us on this case/political trainwreck.

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