History of Innovation

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1915: Imperial Hotel – Tokyo, Japan

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Innovation: Earthquake
Year: 1915
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright in Tokyo, Japan built the Imperial Hotel. Because Tokyo is known for the earthquakes, he had to build the Imperial Hotel to withstand the earthquake’s vibrations, fire, and other natural weather conditions. Construction began in 1915 and ended in 1923. Only months after opening, the 1923 Great Tokyo Earthquake occurred, a 7.9 Mw earthquake and the building still stood unharmed, unlike most of Tokyo’s other buildings [1]. Imperial Hotel is built from concrete, concrete block and oya stone [1]. Wright’s concrete building replaced the original Imperial Hotel, built by Yuzuru Watanabe. His original design was built from wood and consequently was burned down in 1919 [1]. Wright’s new designed was built to withstand the elements presented in Japan, unlike the original Hotel. Though the new Imperial Hotel was well designed for the elements, it was destroyed in 1968 to be replaced with a new hotel structure because of decay from the interior, although the front façades were preserved as a museum [1, 2].

Works Cited: 1, 2


Written by Caylea Pogue

October 8, 1915 at 1:42 am

Posted in Concrete, Earthquake

1911: K-29 Locomotive – Pennsylvania RR

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Innovation: Transportation
Year: 1911
Location: Pennsylvania RR

The K-29 Locomotive was an experimental train that was designed with a superheated boiler and a mechanical stroker [1]. Before the K-29, was a set of experimental train series called the K4, they were mainly passenger trains, although were wasteful in the amount of staff needed to maintain the motion of the train [2]. The K-29 was able to reduce the need for large staffs because of the larger boiler room. Attached to the boiler was a mechanical stroker which used a mechanical conveyor belt as an automatic way for coal to be loaded into the firebox [3]. A superheater is a boiler that converts wet steam to dry steam and reduced the need for coal and water, although still needed to be maintained by a crew [4]. This innovation aided in reducing the extensive staffing on trains and helped increase the efficiency of trains. They were able to travel the further distances without using as much coal and water.

Work Cited: 1, 2, 3, 4

Written by Caylea Pogue

October 5, 1911 at 7:43 pm

1911: Pont le Veurdre – Vichy, France

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Innovation:  Concrete
Location: near Vichy, France
Year: 1911
Engineer: Eugene Freyssinet

Pont le Veurdre was a three span arch bridge spanning 238 feet that was constructed in Vichy, France in 1911. This was a reinforced concrete bridge that then allowed Freyssinet how to pre-stress the concrete using steel rods [1]. Although due to only a small arch, the total rise of the bridge was only 16 feet, the loads of human traffic caused the concrete to experience large amounts of creep and shrinkage [2]. Creep is a permanent deformation of the concrete that could lead to failure [3]. Shrinkage is where the atoms in concrete contract and reduce its volume due to weather conditions and can lead to cracking. This major crack propagation was stopped by Freyssinet by adding decentralized joints to support and control concrete deformation [2]. Although the Pont le Veurdre was stabilized by Freyssinet, during World War II Pont le Veurdre was destroyed. This bridge was able to show that by off-centering the supports jacks, they were able to overcompensate for the creep and prevent further creep and shrinkage of the concrete [2]. These support jacks that Freyssinet presented is now often used to support concrete structures in buildings, roads, and bridges.

Works Cited: 1, 2, 3

Written by Caylea Pogue

October 5, 1911 at 7:13 pm

1910: Woolworth Building – New York, New York

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Innovation: Steel
Location: New York, New York
Year: 1910
Inventor: Cass Gilbert

The Woolworth Building, currently standing at 791 feet, was built to be the world’s tallest building for the early 1900’s [1]. This building surpassed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, built in 1907, which stands at 700 feet [2].  F. W. Woolworth commissioned the construction in 1910 for initially $2 million, although by the end of construction it cost $13.5 million [1]. Construction began in 1910, with plans of it only standing 625 feet, although quickly increased to 791 feet. The Woolworth Building was the tallest building in the world for 20 years before the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street were constructed in 1930 [1]. The architect Cass Gilbert designed the building to represent neo-Gothic facades, modernizing the look of European cathedrals. To design the frame of the building, Woolworth contracted two engineers, Gunvald Aus and Kort Berle, to solve questions about creating a stable building, while experiencing weather conditions at a high altitude and the weight, wind and other loads presented from the height of the building. Their design consisted of a rectilinear steel frame fastened in caissons that were laid within the bedrock [1]. The facades were made, initially of terra-cotta, stain glass windows, and bronze furnishings.

Works Cited: 1, 2
Other Articles: 3

Written by Caylea Pogue

October 5, 1910 at 6:01 pm