Through the hard work of workers in each and every trade, new techniques and technologies are produced to allow us to achieve what was previously thought to be impossible.

Below are 9 examples of projects that pushed the boundaries and were under construction, completed, or announced in 2017.  If you have a project that you think is really cool that you think we should include in our 2018 list, please contact us to let us know!

Photo credit: Bitterman Photography

9. America’s ‘Largest’ Mass Timber Building

In Hillsboro, Oregon, general contractor Swinerton Builders is a few months into the construction of the new First Tech Federal Credit Union, which is believed to be the largest mass timber building in the United States by building area. View Project ›

Mass timber is not your standard wood stud and OSB sheathing structure.  Rather, it’s structural components are comprised of much more substantial cross-laminated timber (CLT), nail laminated timber (NLT), dowel-laminated timber (DLT), or glue laminated timber (glulam).

The new building in Hillsboro is made up of glulam posts and beams, which are parallel lumber structures that have been joined together with moisture resistant glue.  The flooring is made of CLT (pictured above in main image), which are stacks of lumber, with each layer running perpendicular to the layers above and below.  CLT has a high compressive strength, which makes it a great option for flooring.

The new headquarters for the credit union will stand 5 stories high and cover 156,000 square feet in total.

8. Mercedes-Benz Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia

NFL stadiums have ballooned to epic proportions in the past decade and have elevated from their humble beginnings of boring hunks of concrete with seats in them.  The latest NFL marvel is the Atlanta Falcon’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which features a 58 feet tall 360 degree HD video halo board which spans a total of 1100 linear feet.

7. World’s First 3D Printed Bridge

Designed by The Institute of Advanced Architecture of Catolina (IAAC), the world’s first 3D printed pedestrian bridge was unveiled in Alcobendas, Madrid about a year ago.  The bridge measures over 39 feet (12m) long and 5.7 feet (1.75m) wide and was constructed out of micro-reinforced concrete. According to ArchDaily, it took around 18 months from the time of conception to fully complete and install the bridge.

The team also faced a major design challenge, as the maximum dimensions the 3D printer could print are 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet (2m by 2m by 2m), IAAC academic director Areti Markopoulou told ArchDaily en Espanol. For the green building enthusiasts, the printing process allowed the re-distribution of raw materials, so there was minimal waste.

6. The World’s First Solar Panel Road

Using the millions of miles of roadways throughout the world to also create power seems like a no brainer, the asphalt and concrete we’re using now aren’t really accomplishing anything more than handling the traffic on the road. But, there’s also a very strong reason why those products are used: they’re strong, reliable, and relatively durable.  Still, many researchers believe there is a lot of unharnessed potential for roads and the world now has a very strong test subject for the future of solar roadways in Tourouvre-au-Perche, France.

Wattway, a pholtovaltaic road pavement system, has been in development stages for the past 5 years.  Colas, a worldwide infrastructure company, and INES, the National Institute for Solar Energy, joined forces to create what they think is the future of roads.  Unlike other solar road systems, Wattway uses existing roads as the base and the solar panels adhere directly on top.  The material, which is less than an inch thick, allows for both the thermal expansion of the material beneath, as well as the ability to handle the load from vehicles driving on it, according to the company.

Last year, a small village in France, named Tourouvre-au-Perche, became the first to have the system installed on its roads and the first in the world to have a solar road of any kind.  A 0.6 mile (1km) road in the village has been covered by over 30,000 square feet (2,800 square meters) of solar panels, according to The Guardian. The road, which is expected to handle around 2,000 vehicles a day cost over $5.3 million (€5m) to complete.  The panels will undergo a test period of 2 years in order to determine their true durability and figure out how much energy they can actually generate.  Initial tests have indicated that it will take 215 square feet of panels to power the average French household, as panels that lay horizontal have proven to be much less efficient than those that are tilted.

5. The World’s First 3D Printed Skyscraper

Cazza Construction Technologies, a Dubai based firm, announced its plans to build the world’s first 3d printed skyscraper in early 2017. While no details or timeline for the project have been announced yet, Cazza told Construction Week Online that the building would use a technology they’ve developed called “crane printing.”

“Crane printing” simply involves retrofitting an existing crane with a 3d printing apparatus. These devices will be installed on cranes that can reach as high as 262 feet (80m). “We are adding new features to make it adaptable to high wind speeds along with the use of our layer smoothing system that creates completely flat surfaces. You won’t know its 3D printed,” Cazza COO Fernando De Los Rios told Construction Week Online.

It’s expected that the major structural components will be included in the 3d printing side of the construction.  There will still be some other aspects that will be handled by traditional construction methods.

Pulling off a project like this would be a huge advancement in the feasibility of 3D printing in construction.

4. Rebuilding Atlanta’s Damaged I-85

At the end of March 2017, a massive fire underneath Atlanta’s I-85, a major highway that handles around 243,000 vehicles each day, caused a large section to collapse.

The rebuild was originally expected to take 3 months, which would totally wreak havoc on already terrible Atlanta traffic, but after the city threw a pile of money at CW Matthews Contracting Co to speed up the process ($3 million), the project was completed a month ahead of schedule.

Crews were pulled from other nearby projects and 7 bridge crews worked during the day, as well as another 6 at night, totaling around 54,000 man hours. 13 million pounds of debris had to first be removed from the site, before any of the work began.  Over 505,000 pounds of steel rebar and 2,103 cubic yards of concrete were used on the support structure. The contractors also used a more expensive, hi-early concrete, which reach compressive strength in just 3 days.

3. The Louvre Abu Dhabi Art Museum

The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum and located in Paris, France, covering 782,910 square feet. In 2007, French officials worked a deal with Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Araba Emirates, to build a Louvre art museum of their own.  In order to use the Louvre name, borrow several hundred works of art, obtain management expertise, and be provided several temporary exhibitions, Abu Dhabi had to pay roughly $1.3 Billion. The construction of the building totaled to about $712 million.

Construction began on the 260,000 square foot complex on May 26, 2009 and just recently opened in November of 2017.  The roof of the museum consists of 7,850 stars in 8 different layers.  The total weight of the roof is over 8,200 tons.

2. The Dubai Creek Tower

In October of 2016, officials in Dubai held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Dubai Creek Tower, a building which is expected to surpass the reigning “tallest building” champion, the Burj Dubai.   A few months later, over a million hours of labor had already been spent on the project, all accident free.

According to the progress report, over 6 million cubic feet of soil has been removed from the site for foundation work, over 211,000 tons of concrete have been placed, 15,000 tons of steel rebar cages installed, and one hundred forty-five 236-feet-deep concrete piles have been installed.

Designed by Santiago Calatrava, who is best known for his bridges, the tower will have several observation decks boasting some of the best views of the surrounding area.

The final height of the building has yet to be announced, which is common for supertall buildings, as those involved want to avoid tipping their hand to fellow supertall building developers.  It’s expected that the tower will end up between 3,600 feet and 4,413 feet tall.  The Burj Khalifa is 2,722 feet tall.

Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Tower is expected to finish taller than the Dubai Creek Tower, but if Dubai finishes their tower first, it will still hold the record for at least a short time.

1. The Jeddah Tower

Expected to be complete in 2020, the Jeddah Tower is anticipated to reach an astonishing height of 3,307 feet (1,008m), which will make it 580 feet taller than the current record holder, the Burj Khalifa.  The total cost of the 167 floor building is expected to be around $1.23 billion.

Last year, the Executive Director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Dr. Anthony Wood, was invited to check out the progress of the currently under construction Jeddah Tower.  At the time, 56 floors had been constructed, reaching a height of 827 feet (252m).  The most spectacular part came at the end when Wood’s tour group was lowered to the ground from the very top of the building in a materials hoist by a crane.  It’s crazy to think that this building is only a quarter of the way complete, the views are already incredible.

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