The Chicago River was reversed 115 years ago—this infographic tells its story

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
The Chicago River downtown is now the subject of an expansive riverwalk project, opening over the spring and summer.

The Chicago River downtown is now the subject of an expansive riverwalk project, opening over the spring and summer.

Via Chicago Line Cruises, this infographic tells the tale of one of the greatest engineering projects ever completed: the reversal of the Chicago River. Chicago was booming in the late 1800s, but like many cities of the day it lacked proper sewer infrastructure. As a result the city was choking on its own waste.

Continue reading after the jump.

Thorsten Helbig on Engineering Cutting-Edge Facades

Knippers Helbig provided custom parametric modeling, full facade engineering service, and structural design for Massimiliano Fuskas' Shenzhen International Airport. (Courtesy Massimiliano Fuksas)

Knippers Helbig provided custom parametric modeling, full facade engineering service, and structural design for Massimiliano Fuskas’ Shenzhen International Airport. (Courtesy Massimiliano Fuksas)

As an engineer, Thorsten Helbig, co-founder of Knippers Helbig Advanced Engineering, has a unique perspective on facade design. “We conceptualize a facade as an integral part of a whole, as part of a larger system,” he explained. Helbig, who will deliver the morning keynote address at next month’s Facades+ NYC conference, identified two focal points. The first is the relationship of the building envelope to structure. The second is performance: “What can the facade offer back to the building?” Helbig asked

Continue reading after the jump.

Eavesdrop> Minnesota engineer speaks truth to power

(Courtesy Strong Towns)

(Courtesy Strong Towns)

“Can you be an engineer and speak out for reform?” That’s the question one civil engineer and blogger posed on his website,, after a former American Society of Civil Engineers fellow filed a complaint with his state licensing board. According to the blogger, Charles Marohn, it was retaliation for a post critiquing Minnesota’s plan to spend much of its transportation budget on new
construction instead of maintenance.

Read More

Iowa City picks Cecil Balmond for downtown art project

Art, City Terrain, Midwest, News, Urbanism
Thursday, February 12, 2015
(Iowa City)

(Genus Landscape Architects / Iowa City)

Iowa City this week picked engineer-turned-artist Cecil Balmond to anchor an overhaul of the city’s downtown pedestrian plaza. His sculpture will be the focal point of Iowa City’s Black Hawk Mini Park Art Project, the first phase of an $11 million streetscape redevelopment project that officials hope to start next year. Read More

With Limited Land for Housing, Hong Kong Looks to Grow Underground

International, Urbanism
Thursday, October 31, 2013


The housing problem in Hong Kong is critical. Studies estimate that the city of seven million will have to house another 600,000 people over the course of the next 30 years. With rapidly increasing urbanization rates, leading Chinese metropolises are speculating on fast and intelligent ways to manage population growth by creating additional housing within their existing borders. While some cities are growing taller and others are mulling developing rare and cherished park space, Hong Kong is taking a different approach. Officials and engineers have thought about something else: developing an extensive underground city.

Continue reading after the jump.

SHoP Project Engineer Sophie Pennetier at AN’s Facades+PERFORMANCE Chicago

Friday, September 6, 2013
Sophie Pennetier, Project Engineer at SHoP. (Courtesy Facades Plus)

Sophie Pennetier, Project Engineer at SHoP. (Courtesy Facades Plus)

AN’s distinctive Facades+PERFORMANCE conference in Chicago provides participants the exclusive opportunity to engage in in-depth dialogue with frontrunners in the architecture, fabrication, and engineering industries. On October 25th at the Illinois Institute of Technology, workshop leaders such as Sophie Pennetier, Project Engineer at SHoP, will lead intimate discussions conducive to innovation and creative problem-solving. Topics including bent glass, designing for wood fabrication in complex geometries, and integrating performance are on the lineup.

More information after the jump.

AN Video> Reimagining with Artist Ricardo Cid

Art, Dean's List, Design, International
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

With a background in engineering, artist Ricardo Cid uses visualization to understand and reimagine everything from periodic elements to playing the sax. Here he flies through a presentation for the AN staff, leaving us more than a little fascinated, if not, at moments, a little perplexed.

Feasibility is the Essence of Design

Monday, October 5, 2009

This innovative British firm is on the shortlist for the 2010 Stirling Prize. The building they’re brainstorming is the firm’s first U.S. commission. The site is somewhere on Cooper Square. Morphosis is the architect of record.

Their work is the focus of a new book, Feasibility: The New Polemic (The Too Little Too Late Press, 2009).

Up, Up, and Abu Dhabi!

Thursday, May 28, 2009
RMJMs Capital Gate tower in Abu Dhabi will lean more than the Tower of Pisa. (Images courtesy RMJM)

RMJM's Capital Gate tower in Abu Dhabi will lean more than the Tower of Pisa. (Images courtesy RMJM)

When I was out in LA at Postopolis!, one of the most interesting and memorable talks I heard was Christopher Hawthorne’s, on the chilling, almost creepy, effect the recession has had on the United Arab Emirates, in particular Dubai. While he still hasn’t written up his version of his trip–and we wish he would, because the talk was so interesting–the basic gist was that construction had all but stopped in Dubai, and to some degree in Abu Dhabi (to say nothing of New York and LA), because the spigot of liquidity--money had dried up with the collapse of the financial system. He termed it Ponzi-scheme urbanism. Well, it seems some things are still moving out in the wild, sandy yonder, as RMJM’s Princeton office (formerly Hillier) just passed along the following impressive photo of its Capital Gate tower passing the half-way mark. Read More

Up, Up, & Away

Thursday, February 26, 2009
Up she goes. (TOKEN FYP./Flickr)

Up she goes. (TOKEN FYP./Flickr)

No, we’re not talking about the progress on Tower 1, though that is impressive. We’re talking about news of the building’s new, fastest-in-the-hemisphere elevators. Call it jealousy: We’ve been having horrible problems lately at A/N HQ with the elevator. First, it was grinding and creaking. Then it was getting stuck between floors. They say it’s fixed but we’re still taking the stairs. Can we be blamed for looking longingly to the south from 21 Murray Street after this ecstatic report from tomorrow’s Times: Read More

Is Your Emmenthaler Loadbearing?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis

Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis (Courtesy

Even in the funny pages, architects are pretentious and engineers are bores.

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