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1970: The Key Speech

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Innovation: The Key Speech
Location: Winchester, UK
Year: 1970
By:  Sir Ove N. Arup

In preparation for retirement, Ove Arup and his partners in the industry expressed their desire to continue their strong working relations with one another as their leading positions were handed down to their successors.  At a meeting in Winchester, UK, Arup, founder of Arup Group Limited, addressed this desire in a talk known as the “key speech.”  In his speech, he sets standards for the firm—“the aims of the firm and the principles through which through which they may be achieved.”  He expected that all branches bearing the Arup name followed these standards to keep the company in good name all around the world.  The importance of this speech is shown through the requirement that all employees of Arup read this speech and abide by it so that they understand what they are working for and to.  These standards do not apply to only the Arup firm, but all other firms around the world—his speech set the standards for the industry.  [1]

Full Speech


Written by Johnathan Duong

October 9, 1970 at 3:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

1970: Willis Tower – Chicago, Illinois

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Innovation:  Willis Tower
Location:  Chicago, Illinois
Year:  1970
Architect: Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill
Engineer: Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill

Formerly known as the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower, standing at 108 stories, held the title for the world’s tallest building for nearly 25 years, between the years 1973-1998.   The architects and engineers of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill were tasked with the job to build one of the tallest office buildings in the world.  With little ground area to work with and the requirement for a building fit to contain around 3 million people, they came up with the idea to create a 3×3 matrix of bundled rectangular “tubes.”  Originally introduced by Fazlur Rahman Khan, “tubes” were a relatively new concept in structural engineering; in which, they acted like hollow cantilevers that could resist lateral loads.  Furthermore, bundling the tubes would allow an extremely tall structure to stand because it would spread the lateral loads and vertical loads through a greater area throughout and at the bottom of the tower.  Also, because of this discovery, “buildings no longer need be box-like in appearance, they could become sculpture.”  For this reason, sections of the 3×3 matrix vary in height.  The concept of bundling “tubes” was a new design innovation that would be incorporated into many future projects.  [1][2]

Written by Johnathan Duong

October 9, 1970 at 6:18 am

Posted in Uncategorized

1969: Apollo 11 – First Man to Land on the Moon

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Innovation: First man to land on the moon
Location: The Moon
Year: 1969
By: Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin

The space mission, Apollo 11, marked an important step for both space exploration and building technology.  Of course, this mission is most memorable for landing the first humans on the Moon, but it also represented the advances that have been made in construction material and the effort put forth to do so.  The spacecraft was fabricated out of materials fit for the harsh conditions of space—an environment greatly worse than that of on Earth.  If such materials were capable of surviving the environment of outer space then it is certainly suitable as construction material for buildings on Earth.

Apollo 11 not only represented the advances of materials, but also further pushed the possibility for space architecture.  Such a practice focuses on the design and construction of inhabitable environments located in outer space.  Space architecture creates a whole other realm in the study of architecture as design factors completely differ.  Today, much of this architecture is focused on the construction of large spacestations built for the purpose of space exploration.  Perhaps, the practice of space architecture will expand even further when land on another planet is found to be inhabitable and humans find it a place they want to live.  [1][2]

Video Footage

Written by Johnathan Duong

October 9, 1969 at 5:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

1968: World Trade Center – Towers 1 & 2 – New York City, New York

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Innovation: World Trade Center, Towers 1 & 2
Location:  New York City, New York
Year: 1968
Owner:  Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Architect:  Minoru Yamasaki, Emery Roth & Sons
Engineer:  Leslie E. Roberston Associates

Deemed as lead architect of the World Trade Center project, Minoru Yamasaki proposed a plan that incorporated tall-standing twin towers; a design that would make these towers the tallest structures in the world at the time.  Due to the height of the towers, more elevators than usual needed to be included, but this created a space problem on each floor.  The solution, created by Fazlur Khan, was “sky lobbies” which were “floors where people could switch from a large-capacity express elevator to a local elevator that goes to each floor in a section.”  This saved a tremendous amount of space on each floor.

To make Yamasaki’s design possible, the structural engineer developed a “tube” frame structural system, first introduced by Fazlur Rahman Khan.  Such a system allowed for a more open floor plan at each level as the loads are distributed around the perimeter of the floor through the use of Vierendeel trusses.  The “tube” can be described as “a three-dimensional hollow tube, cantilevered perpendicular to the ground.”  The system is designed to resist lateral loads caused by wind, seismic activity, etc.  The tower was constructed around a core surrounded by a perimeter of columns, bridged together by floor trusses.  [1][2]

Video Documentary: [1]

Written by Johnathan Duong

October 9, 1968 at 5:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized