Building (innovation): Empire State Building (fast-track construction)
Location: 350 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10118
Construction Years: 1930-1931
Owner: Bethlehem Engineering Corporation
Architect: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates
Size: 2.85 million rentable square feet
The Empire State building began construction in 1930, and has a total height of 1,454 ft (433.2m). It is designed in the art deco style and is considered one of the greatest pieces of American architecture. Due to the use of four facades, each facing a different street, the architect managed to create a feeling of a front on each side. At the time of construction it became the tallest building in the world and held that record from 1931 until 1972. Due to the nature of the build, the general contractors had to buy custom equipment in order to create the design. Construction occurred using a new method called fast track construction, where construction begins before the designs are completely finished, and each part of the work was controlled using a detailed construction schedule, maximizing the efficiency of the different construction trades. By using this method, the entire construction process occurred in just 410 days and was completed under budget and 3 months ahead of schedule despite the purchase of new equipment. `
Building: Salginatobel Bridge
Location: Schiers, Switzerland
Construction Years: 1929-1930
Architect: Robert Maillart
Length: 133 meters (436 feet)
The Salginatobel Bridge was designed by Robert Maillart and had construction start in 1929. At the point of its inception, it was considered a great architectural and engineering feat. Maillart used a system known as box girders in order to withstand the torsion and give space for larger flanges. By using a box girder throughout the center of the largest span, Maillart was able to create a bridge which did not need a middle support which would have been costly and inefficient to install and maintain due to the height of the bridge from the bottom of the valley. The construction was done using precast beams created on the valley floor before being brought up. This allowed for no false-work supports to be used during its creation and instead Maillart supported the bridge using cable stays and suspended cantilevers until its completion. Due to these new construction methods and the minimalist designs, the Salginatobel bridge was efficient in the use of materials, time, and cost, making it a historic piece of bridge design.
Innovation: First Regularly Scheduled TV Service
Location: W3XK in Wheaton Maryland
By: Charles Franklin Kettering and Thomas Midgley Jr
Charles Francis Jenkins first published the idea of creating a television program by wirelessly transmitting picture and sound in 1913, however, the first transmission did not occur until 1923. After acquiring the patent on transmitting pictures over wireless signals in 1925, Jenkins founded the Jenkins Television Company. Using this company, Jenkins then received license to become the first regularly scheduled television service via the broadcast station, W3XK. The company transmitted shows 5 nights a week until 1932 when the company was liquidated and work on electromechanical television stopped as the new parent company, RCA, decided to focus on the electronic counterpart. While the company did indeed fail, the creation of a television transmission station allowed for a surge in the creation and design for televisions pushing them to become more of a household item.
In 1948 (post WW2), there were 4 major television networks providing regional service – DuMont, NBC, CBS and ABC. In 1951 these networks began to be available coast-to-coast in the U.S. This surge in competition brought sound (similar to radio) with moving images into American households. The ramifications of this are visible now, as information and imagery can be transmitted in seconds to millions of households. In 2012 it is estimated that over 1.4 billion televisions in use.
By: Charles Francis Jenkins
Freon is a compressible refrigerant which unlike all previous forms, is also non-toxic. Due to several deaths that were linked to refrigerant exposure in the 1920’s, there was a large push to search for an alternative compound. The result was freon. Invented in 1928 by Kettering and Midgley under the DuPont company. Freon, or CFC’s, are organic compounds containing carbon, fluorine, chlorine, and hydrogen. These compounds are inert, or non-toxic, non-flammable, non-corrosive, and non-reactive; and thus considered safe for human interaction. This new discovery meant that not only could refrigerants be used for refrigerators, but also allow for direct human contact, thus spurring the invention of the air conditioning unit.
Of the many forms, R-12 was the most widely used up until 1994, before being replaced with other forms such as R-134a. The reason for the recall was that there has been evidence linking ozone depletion in the atmosphere with the use of Freon. The reason that this occurs is once freon is released and has traveled into the upper atmosphere, ultraviolet radiation begins to break apart the bonds. Once this occurs the free radicals of chlorine ions act as a catalyst, each ion destroying the bonds between thousands of molecules of ozone. In response, the Montreal Protocol called for the ban of such detrimental gasses and thus more inert compounds (like R-134) have been created in response.