49 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: Instant Skyscraper”

    1. Single-family homes still define the American dream and prospective home buyers overwhelmingly prefer them.

      1. Thanks for setting me straight, John. I was always under the mistaken impression that the American Dream was a dignified, independent, and debt-free life. Whoo-wee, talk about delusions!

        Also, whether it’s dreams about single-family homes, skyscrapers, or any other subject, quality of dream often depends on what one just ate before they went to bed,

        Mark Dublin

      1. What’s your solution to scaling hydrogen production, transportation and storage. Safely!

        We already have an electrical distribution system that while old and creaky, can be upgraded and modernized with far less effort than building a hydrogen system from scratch. The present electrical distribution system can power a very large number of cars before it reaches the need to be expanded.

        Don’t get me wrong, I think hydrogen fuel cells have some potentially interesting applications such as fueling bus fleets. Requires a single point fuel production/charging station for a fleet.

      2. We already have:

        1) Gasoline stations. To which a hydrogen pump can be added. Japan is already doing this.

        2) Natural gas pipelines, which can bimodally transport hydrogen generated cleanly. German is already doing this with wind generated hydrogen.

        3) America already produces enough Hydrogen to power thousands of cars.

      3. Hydrogen fuel headed to Tompkins County drivers

        TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. — In a matter of months, a new, cleaner kind of bus will shuttle passengers around Tompkins County.

        “They have a lot of power right from the acceleration. They can make it up Ithaca’s hills very well, so you won’t have trouble on the hills. And then the quiet ride that people get and the lack of engine sounds have been much better for drivers and rider alike,” said Paul Mutolo, Director of External Partnerships for the Energy Materials Center at Cornell.

        The Tompkins Consolidated Area Transit, or TCAT, will receive the hydrogen bus through a Federal Transit Administration program.


    2. As always, the Scam Troll only read the headline:

      Unlike in previous recessions, housing closer to the urban core retained more value in this bust than suburban homes. Large homebuilders like Toll Brothers have changed their product mix, building fewer large homes on large lots and more communities that promote walkability and efficiency as selling points. Cities like Dallas, Houston, Denver and Salt Lake have discovered that mass transit can spur high-end development. “The market isn’t all for smart growth, nor is it all for sprawl,” said Geoff Anderson, the president and chief executive of Smart Growth America. “The thing for the last 50, 60 years has been that we’ve done nothing but sprawl.

      As long as one new McMansion is built each year somewhere in America, the Scam Troll will be shouting that suburbia is on its way BACK!

      1. Okay, so why is it noteworthy here?

        “The fall from July to August is normal, the real estate firm said, because seasonal shifts in sales patterns in the Bay Area usually cause prices to drop in August…

        August’s median in the nine county area is still a shocking 31.7% higher than last year.”

      2. I guess I am responding to the above poster.

        The quote is saying what people want is neither sprawl — in the classic case of suburbs with distant resources, no sidewalks, nothing to do. Or “Smart Growth” of everyone cramped into apodments in an old style city.

        What they want is classic Seattle…the neighborhoods of smaller (1200 sq. ft.) single family homes, with a yard, but close enough so you can scoot downtown to a symphony or get to a high tech job at a campus.

        This has always been my argument on STB. That instead of building up, or out, we build more towns and small cities across Washington that effectively give us “more Seattle”.

    1. They make a claim that it’s 9th magnitude earthquake resistant Assuming that they were really able to get the foundation right, I don’t see any real reason to worry. Most of the building was prefabbing sections off site: presumably that wasn’t counted in the 15 days.

      1. Most skyscrapers in LA are built on ‘rollers’ to withstand quakes. From what I understand it takes time to set up the engineering for these bldgs. I doubt that’s the process this bldg used. Hence, my reservation in entering it.

        Besides, in a country with so much vacant office space…..not sure why they have to put these bldgs up faster.

      2. I’m pretty sure they were building a hotel. Something like that almost has to be more a stunt than it is a real building technique.

    1. That’s the part about it that I like!

      I wouldn’t mind living in a 20 story apartment complex…if it were in the middle of a farming village with nothing else to block the view (wasn’t this Solari’s Arco Santi design?).

      Also, even with the air filtration system, I’d want to be able to open the windows…it wasn’t clear if the “4 pane system” allows that.

      1. I seriously doubt you would want to open the windows. The reason they are touting the air filtration system inside the buildings is because most of the time the air outside those buildings is foul and smoggy. I’m not sure of the exact location of those projects, but they are likely in the vicinity of Changsa. You can monitor the local air quality here: http://aqicn.org/city/changsha/

  1. How come nobody has built a “horizonscraper” yet? In other words, a building that is tall and wide? I understand that skyscrapers tend to be built in downtowns, and are limited by the small city blocks or half blocks they sit on, but will we ever see the day that a skyscraper isn’t merely 200 to 300 feet wide, but 1000 or 2000 feet wide? A building so big it could be a city unto itself, with apartments, a shopping center, offices, a hotel, schools, etc.

    1. seems to me a very long and narrow building maximizes travel distances and times. best to build on a square or other regular polygonal base (like the Pentagon), in which case, see arcology (ref made above).

    2. That’s sort of what I live in….an apartment complex of townhouse size buildings…3 stories, but with greenspace between them.

      1. To expand on this, my apartment complex has 34 buildings, labelled A through HH.

        Each building has a landing with 3 stories, two apartments on either side. On one side is parking, on the other side, green area (exterior or interior).

        There is no commercial real estate adjacent to the complex, just other complexes.

        However, the closest retail areas is walkable, and reachable by transit van. On the edge is a bus stop and walking a little further several more.

        To me, this is a good compromise between a 20 story tower, and an expanse of SFHs, and between cars, and transit. (Since you can have car, but you don’t need a car!)

        As far as arcology, no it is not a single building, but it is several multitenant buildings with airspace and green areas within. The compression is that within the complex is a small town. Thus you can centralize resources like a single bus stop to cover hundreds of people.

  2. Is anyone going to the car2go yoga class at corepoweryoga today? (it was one of those ‘rsvp! special event for car2go members! things.)

  3. What is going on at the U-district station site at Brooklyn and 43rd? So far, all they’ve done is demolish buildings and pave the area over as a parking lot. If the area is going to be dug up for a station, why spend the money to pave it now?

    From the looks of things, it seems like Sound Transit has condemned a significant amount of land to serve no purpose except to give construction workers a place to park their cars. I hope there’s something more subtle going on that I can’t see.

      1. I did a little reserach… these are the people whio are responsible for the Sky City proposakl, where they are looking to build a ~800m skyscraper in 90 days. There’s some skepticism in the community about their ability to build something stiff enough in thet time frame.

    1. Dunno. Doesn’t seem like a good place for a worker car park, as that’s the site for the station. Perhaps since there’s a fair bit of time between demolition and digging, they thought paving was a low-cost way to maintain the site, prevent water intrusion, and keep it from being a temporary eyesore? Can’t find anything on ST’s site that explains the process to that level of detail.

      1. ST seems to overdo temporary paving. The lot across from Convention Place station is also paved. Is asphalt recyclable when it’s no longer used? I hate to think of all that oil going into temporary asphalt. Is it really cheaper than gravel to install?

      2. Maybe the utility work taking place now needed that stuff out of the way? I’m no engineer, so I’m talking out of my what what. Or maybe it was a fiscal year budgeting thing?

    1. Prepare to get ‘Smacked Down’, and hard by the readership.
      Rail = Good
      BRT= Evil
      ps, are you related to Kemper Freeman?

      1. Just the messenger. The study doesn’t set out to proclaim a winner, just lay bare the results of some real world examples. I know it’s a sensitive topic. I’m just curious to see if this source has anything new to say.

        Also, no relation to the commercial architect of Blahvue.

    2. Yes, when you just look at “development costs”, BRT will always win.

      BRT = cheap up front, higher operating costs
      LRT = expensive up front, lower operating costs

      You can’t really pick a winner, it depends on the situation.

      1. You might want to fact check your costs for Seattle. Even ULink doesn’t lower cost below conventional buses here and that’s the busiest segment of the whole system.
        It’s more a function of capital cost expended, operating cost over time, and total ridership.
        … but who cares about facts around here?

      2. >> Bus rapid transit, in which buses in dedicated lanes perform like rail lines

        By that definition, Seattle doesn’t have BRT. The closest thing we have is buses running in car pool lanes. These are a great idea (everyone agrees). They are extremely cost effective, since the lanes are already built. But it isn’t “real” BRT.

        Then there is the question of whether the trains operate on their own line. Again, we don’t have any like that. If we did, then they could be automated. Automation saves money, which (when applied properly) reinforces the point Chris made. An automated train can carry as many people as a fleet of buses; the overall operating cost (per passenger) is much lower.

        Back to the initial cost, to get real BRT (BRT as defined in the article) you have to build a grade separated line. As we all know, grade separation is very expensive. You can build a tunnel or build bridges (viaducts, etc.). Tunnels are really expensive. Above ground systems aren’t cheap either, but depending on the terrain, they can be cheaper (mainly because in some parts it doesn’t need to be elevated). Unfortunately, though in the most important region in the area (Seattle) we have lots of hills, and lots of bodies of water. This means that a new freeway (whether it carries buses or cars) would be really expensive. Plus, there is political opposition. In many cases, you might as well build a tunnel (which is why we ended up with a tunnel for highway 99*). Once the pathway is complete (tunnels, bridges, etc.) it generally isn’t much more expensive to lay rail over the top or concrete. Furthermore, we aren’t going to build these all over the place. We are going to pick and choose judiciously, since they are so expensive. Therefore, it makes sense that whatever line we use should handle lots and lots of people. When you are talking that many people, it makes sense to use a train. Some might argue that heavy rail makes more sense than light rail (for building our core) but I have no idea of the cost benefit differences between the two.

        The closest comparison to BRT and rail is on the surface. This is obviously not “real” BRT, but streetcars aren’t “rapid” light rail either (if we apply the same definition). This would be a worthy comparison. I’m no fan of streetcars, but my understanding is that laying the rail was quite cheap. Furthermore, the street will need less maintenance over time than if lots of buses traveled over the same road. All of this just reinforces the point Chris made.

        * I’m not suggesting that building the highway 99 tunnel was a good idea. I’m just saying that if we had rebuilt the viaduct, it would have cost almost as much. That is why Nickels pushed for the tunnel. His attitude was that if the difference was minor, you might as well dig a hole. A viaduct won a plurality of the votes (although less than a majority) in the referendum, so it was reasonably popular. But that was to rebuild an existing system. To build a new viaduct (say, from Ballard to the UW) would encounter tremendous political opposition. There are only a few places where elevated structures can overcome such opposition, and most of those places are close to existing structures (freeways, rail lines, etc.)

      3. Mic,

        Do you have a source? A 4-car Link train driven by one operator is more expensive to operate than the 6 busses needed to carry the same amount of passengers?

        In Portland, MAX has about a 40% lower cost per boarding, compared to the average for bus lines.

      4. Developers are almost certainly less-concerned than transit advocates about “true BRT”-ness of a project. Rather they are drawn to invest because of the promise of rapid transit and the visibility BRT branding brings to a corridor. My guess is that, though dollar for dollar there is more developer investment for BRT, LRT brings far more total developer investment.

      5. We do have real BRT. It’s called the DSTT. It works great. The only problem is that it’s too crowded.

        It’s ironic to compare the 41-Northgate (turnback) to RapidRide D. The 41-Northgate runs almost entirely on grade-separated infrastructure; the DSTT, the express lane on-ramps, and the express lanes themselves (close enough). RapidRide D has partial grade separation on 15th Ave W, and on 3rd Ave downtown, but runs in mixed traffic elsewhere. And yet the 41 isn’t considered BRT, but RRD is.

      6. @ChrisI: I think mic was taliking about historical costs per boarding, not projected costs. Right now, the comparison is between un-full 2 car Link trains and buses, so it’s really more like 1 train versus 2 buses.

        There are also some specific accounting issues related to security and DSTT access that make Link look artificially bad compared to buses.

      7. @challingford you make a good point, because in some corridors it might be preferable to maximize developer investment, and those corridors would most likely be the ones that are slated for this kind of transit investment anyway.

        We only have so many neighborhoods that are ready to become truly urban, great places in the US, so even if each $ is leveraged marginally less, it might still be worth spending. The funny (or sad) thing is that in comparing BRT to LRT we’re missing how little we get out of suburban infrastructure and highway megaprojects. Imagine if those projects were held to the same investment standards.

  4. In Auburn, at Peasley canyon Rd and West Valley Hwy, on route 181, there is a small park and ride lot, but there is no bus stop for route 181 near the lot (181 is nonstop from O St SW and Military Rd). Why is this? The bus route is already there, there just needs to be two bus stop poles and it’s a usable park and ride.

  5. Do neighborhoods other than West Seattle complain about these things?

    1. Bike lines screwing up the roads. “No one even uses them–I never see anyone on them.”

    2. New apartment buildings going up in the main business area, going to ruin it, it wasn’t like what I grew up in, etc.

    3. Not enough parking for new apartment buildings (160 units, 160,000 square feet of retail space and only 160 parking spaces.)

    4. McGinn is horrible and needs to go. Counting the days until he’s gone.

    Is it really better to keep neighborhoods mostly single family? Are young people really not buying as many cars, or is it a myth? I feel like it’s a really huge disconnect between what I read on here and other similar places, and what people seem to really want, at least from comments on the West Seattle Blog and the WSB’s Facebook page.

  6. OK, I guess the blog post about the bike lanes wasn’t totally negative–I’d just read the Facebook page and all the comments were anti-bike lane.

Comments are closed.