Best of the Build Smart Blog 2016

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Before we pop the bubbly and close the book on year two of the Build Smart Blog, let’s take a look back at some of our favorite posts of 2016. In case you missed them the first time around, here are five stories that captured our imagination, revealing ways that tomorrow’s built environment might take shape, and delving into the advances in architecture, engineering and construction that make these visions attainable.

Super Bowl shuffle: Stadiums of the future will feature interactive and civic spaces: Putting the brakes on your tailgate party to go watch the game? So early 21st century. Future fans will enjoy tailgating inside the stadium. That stadium, by the way, will expand and contract depending on the size of the event, for year-round use.

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Office space of tomorrow: Millennials and “accidental encounters” drive future of office design: Say goodbye to static rows of cubes. Open plans, smart technology, and greater attention to collaboration and wellness are driving changes in the corporate workplace. What does this mean for designers and builders?

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Throwback Thursday: Turning the first sod: For a new twist on an old ceremony, Suffolk set the bar high with its “virtual groundbreaking.” But what’s the story behind groundbreakings? When we dug into it (no pun intended), we discovered the ancient roots and colorful past of this familiar construction tradition.

MIT students win Hyperloop competition: Elon Musk’s audacious Hyperloop—a magnetic transit system taking passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes—will require a massive infrastructure build. And when it comes to making the Hyperloop train go, the smartest engineers in the room might be a team of students from MIT.

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High-tech timber erected at UMass: This ain’t your great-grandfather’s wood construction. Cross-laminated timber makes for a building that is sustainable, fire resistant, and versatile. See why this story remains one of our most popular.

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We look forward to bringing you more stories about cool stuff happening in the construction industry in 2017! Got your own story ideas? Send them to Patrick L. Kennedy at PKennedy@suffolk.com.

Fast and furious: Girder-Slab erects Troy Boston at speedy pace

Located next to a major interstate, Troy Boston’s rapid rise hasn’t exactly been a Trojan horse. The luxury apartment complex along the Southeast Expressway in Boston’s trendy South End topped out with its final steel beam approximately four months after breaking ground last March.

So how exactly did the 19-story tower and 11-story midrise emerge so quickly and save $2 million in the process? The answer is simple: Girder-Slab Technologies.

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Girder-Slab’s signature D-Beam Girders install flush with precast hollow core planks to hide steel beams that would otherwise hang below the concrete slabs. Grout is poured between the open webs in the beam and the precast planks to glue the two together. Image courtesy of Girder-Slab Technologies.

“It’s a fast system,” Girder-Slab Vice President of Business Development Dan Fisher, Jr. told us. “All projects are different but that type of speed is pretty typical.”

The prefabricated Girder-Slab system not only sends projects into hyper drive because it is easily erected onsite, but it also saves money because its thin concrete slabs allow more floors to be built with less wasted space and without raising the height of the building.

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It’s a building, it’s a city, it’s a “super building”

Imagine leaving your apartment one Friday morning to get in some shopping at the mall before your doctor’s appointment at the local hospital. Then, you decide to take a long stroll on your favorite nature trail through the park with plenty of time to pick up the kids from school. Later, with the kids and their friends in tow, you take public transit to the movie theater to celebrate the start of the weekend. After your busy afternoon, you drop off the kids’ friends at their apartments and you head home to tuck your children into bed.

Now, imagine you did all that without ever stepping foot outside your building. The year is 2050 and you live in a “super building.”

Like today’s major cities, super buildings will consist of millions of inhabitants and their own infrastructure with shopping, recreation, medical facilities, theaters, schools and even parks. The major difference is that the entire “vertical city” will be concentrated under one roof within a single massive structure. Super buildings could stretch miles into the sky and consume entire city blocks. They could recycle their own water and generate more energy than they consume. Sound like something straight out of the Jetsons or Interstellar? Maybe. But the truth is that super buildings could be closer to becoming a reality than you think because there are developers and architects among us who believe these enormous structures may be our best option for dealing with the rapid demographic and environmental changes that are affecting our planet.

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