Worldwide, innovation is reaching a fevered pitch. In the United States, several large-scale projects are contributing state-of-the-art structures to the modern architectural landscape and pushing the bounds of innovation and design. Leading the charge are the corps of dedicated engineers and designers making these projects possible.
Engineering plays an integral role in each of our lives because it enables and enhances the amenities and resources available to us. We use engineered devices, travel on engineered infrastructure, and live and work in engineered structures. Engineers make possible our way of life.
Here are four cutting-edge, innovative architectural and civil engineering projects that present a picture of how engineering is expanding possibility across the country, making way for new levels of future advancement and achievement.
Floating Bridge in Washington
- Start date: Construction for the bridge began in 2011.
- End date: The bridge was opened to the public in April 2016.
- Purpose: The SR 520 Floating Bridge project links the city of Seattle, Washington, with the communities and growing cities to the east of Lake Washington.
The constructed bridge, spanning 7,708.5 feet and reaching a roadway deck width of 116 feet at its midspan, was declared by Guinness World Records as the longest floating bridge in existence at the time of its completion in 2016. Although it is not the first floating bridge of its kind, it is the largest to date, and its design propels it to unprecedented levels of sturdiness and safety. The bridge is gauged to withstand sustained winds of up to 89 miles per hour. It includes bus lanes, pedestrian and bike lanes, and has also been designed to accommodate light rail transportation in the future.
World Trade Center (WTC) Transportation Hub
- Start date: Construction on the WTC Transportation Hub began in September 2005.
- End date: Opened in stages, the WTC Transportation Hub became available to the public during the summer of 2016.
- Purpose: Provide pedestrian access to eleven subway lines, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) railway, one ferry terminal, and a major tourist attraction (the rebuilt World Trade Center site).
Though the WTC Transportation Hub is but the third-largest of New York City’s transportation centers, the structure is state-of-the-art and was designed by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava. The hub boasts an impressive 800,000 square feet, costing $4 billion to complete and holding not only ample concourses and transportation options but visit-worthy retail and dining areas.
Hudson Yards in New York
- Start date: Construction drilling for the platforms began in March 2014.
- End date: Construction of the entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2025.
- Purpose: Hudson Yards will provide residential and commercial space in Lower Manhattan, New York City.
Hudson Yards is touted as the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States. The figures are impressive: Hudson Yards will house 18 million square feet of residential and commercial space in four expansive high-rises and a fifth ground-dwelling retail structure. The futuristic, well-equipped design will include self-contained systems to assist in water treatment and organic waste disposal, as well as high-tech “fiber loop” connectivity spanning the entire area to facilitate data access. Most impressive of all: The entire project is being constructed on top of colossal platforms spanning above a train yard containing 30 fully-operational train tracks and multiple underground subway lines.
California High-Speed Rail (HSR) Project
- Start date: Legislation to allow funding and begin construction was passed in 2008. Construction began in 2015.
- End date: The completion dates for the first and second legs of the HSR project are scheduled for 2025 and 2029, respectively. Further segments will follow, but their timeline is uncertain.
- Purpose: The HSR project will eventually connect Los Angeles to San Francisco by a 2-hour and 40-minute high-speed train ride.
California’s High-Speed Rail project stands alongside only two other high-speed train projects – one between Miami and Orlando and another between Dallas and Houston – that have broken ground on American soil to date. These projects hope to contribute to a new chapter in American transportation. The California HSR project has met legislative, budgetary and environmental friction but still hopes to reach completion roughly on schedule and help catapult the United States into the era of high-speed ground transportation.
Contributing to innovation by building unprecedented structures like those listed above can provide incredibly fulfilling and stimulating careers. Engineers, and especially the engineering managers that oversee these types of projects, are vital to maintaining America’s global position as an innovation leader.
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Build HSR, “Projects”
CityLab, “Faster Rail Service Is Coming to America—Slowly”
CNN, “Why can’t America have high-speed trains?”
Hudson Yards New York, “BUILDING HUDSON YARDS”
NY Curbed, “Hudson Yards construction update: a status check on the Manhattan megaproject”
The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, “Timeline of the Rebuilding Effort”
San Fransico Curbed, “California high-speed rail: Everything you need to know”
Wired.com, “The 7 Most Majestic Infrastructure Projects of 2016”