Went to San Francisco to celebrate Daughter 1's birthday. Compared to a few years ago, the tower crane scene in the City is pretty quiet. Given that the bulk of the activity is in the <clears throat> less desirable part of town, I get the sense that San Francisco is coming to the end of the current building cycle.
The first two pictures are from the Tenderloin neighborhood in SF. If you are not familiar with the Tenderloin, it's a pretty rough neighborhood and it lived up to reputation when I decided to jog through it so that I could geek out on tower cranes. It's tough to look up at cranes and dodge the copious crap (literally, crap) on the sidewalks, but I managed.
Tenderloin project #1
Tenderloin project #2
The project above is located in the area bordered by Market, Gough, Otis and 12th Streets. Again, not a common area for high-rise activity which is more data that development is being pushed to the fringes in San Francisco.
Lastly, the above picture was taken from Oracle Park (and was actually taken a few weeks ago). This project is in the Mission Bay part of the city and is likely tied to the University of California, San Francisco medical campus in Mission Bay. This is a desirable neighborhood that has undergone explosive growth for over a decade.
I am in no way qualified to blog about food, yet as a fan of tacos (see blog title above) I cannot neglect the Mexican food I consumed in Milwaukee (yes Milwaukee!) while there for Summerfest. Below are the highlights of foods I highly recommend. First stop: Milwaukee Public Market.
I really wanted (needed) coffee and a donut, but this breakfast taco was too good to pass up.
Yeah, I ended up getting donuts at the Milwaukee Public Market as well.
After the gutbomb breakfast, we walked the Historic Third Ward in Milwaukee. After a few hours, I had my appetite back (I love vacation!) and we checked out a Mexican-ish restaurant called the Blue Bat Kitchen and Tequilaria. Strong recommend! Here's the roll-out of my order:
Bag o' chips with bat dust. I have no idea what bat dust is but I really like it. I'll let you know if I come down with any hantavirus symptoms. Of course I washed it down with a paloma, duh.
Street corn. With bacon. And bat dust. I destroyed this.
I may have mentioned this before but it bears repeating: I love tacos. These were incredible.
A little later before seeing the Zac Brown Band, I consumed the official meal of Summerfest:
Tall boy of Miller High Life and fried food. I heart you Milwaukee.
So, ZBB was incredible (always a great live show) and we were all set to check out Wilco right afterwards, but there was this taco place that caught our eye that we wanted to hit. Tacos > Wilco. On to Electric Lime.
How can you not order a drink off a menu title thirst trap? Marg for TReg, Spotted Cow for JReg. BTW, Spotted Cow is a must drink in Wisconsin. It's not the greatest beer in the world, but the fact that you can only get it in Wisconsin and it is really good is pretty compelling.
Nachos and tacos in the wee hours? Hell yes.
Fast forward to the following morning. A bit groggy (read: hungover) and TReg takes me on a refreshing walk to a coffee shop she has frequented before as MKE is in her territory. Coffee and breakfast would be so good at this point...
Breakfast burrito: check
Breakfast sandwich: check
Cinnamon roll: check
Weird street musician playing Turkish folk music in the background: check
Collectivo Coffee was a perfect way to start the morning and the setting near Lake Michigan was super pleasant.
It's about time to head to the airport to return to Sacramento. Time for one more meal.
Return to Blue Bat for chilaquiles and a Spotted Cow. Thank you for raising my cholesterol 200% Milwaukee. Let's do it again soon.
A few weeks ago, TReg and I went to Milwaukee (via St. Louis) to attend Summerfest (we saw Chris Stapleton and Zac Brown Band. Both great shows although I would have liked to see Run the Jewels ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Anyway, with the recent uptick in architectural billings, particularly in the midwest, I was excited to see the action in person. One thing is for sure, STL > MKE on the tower crane front. In all fairness, Milwaukee is on the tail end of a big growth cycle. The tower cranes I observed in both cities are below:
Three tower crane project at the Washington University Medical Campus. This project site is close to the Cortex light rail station. The general contractor is McCarthy Building Companies which is <checks notes> headquartered in St. Louis.
Multi-family residential project near
This tower crane is located in the STL suburb or Clayton. Clayton is a funny area...population 15,000 and primarily businesses and luxury condos. This project was also being built by McCarthy.
Next door to the previous picture is another project in Clayton, also being built by McCarthy.
This was the sole tower crane I saw in Milwaukee*. High rise condo building downtown. I'm a fan of MKE's public art, including these birds.
*I did see another tower crane east of I-94 and south of the river while driving back to the airport, along with three large crawler cranes. Too far to run/walk to for closer inspection...
As we are finishing the master planning process for a new off-campus center for Sac State in Placer County, our master planning Architect, Sasaki, brought out some analog and digital mock-ups of the planned campus. The site is 300 acres bordered by Roseville to the south and Rocklin and Lincoln to the east. The pictures represent the campus at full buildout, which would accommodate 15,000 students in the rapidly-growing south Placer County region.
I'm glad I finally was able to tour this project. After a year of checking in on the tower crane for this project, MarketOne Construction project manager Jason Ford gave me a tour. The project is an adaptive reuse of the historic Eastern Star building that will become a 128-room Hyatt House hotel across the street from Sutter's Fort. The pictures below show the juxtaposition of new construction into the brick shell of the original building. Alas, this project removed its tower crane last week so Sacramento is down to six on the skyline.
The first two pictures are how the project looked on November 5, 2020 with the historic brick façade supported by falsework as the basement was being excavated. The remaining five pix were taken on July 28, 2021 and show great progress.
regional This is the third installment of the tower crane road trip, with Sacramento and San Diego being the first two. If these three cities are the ships Columbus sailed to the new world, Boise is definitely the Niña, but the growth is nonetheless astounding. Idaho's population has grown over 17% since 2010 (over 270,000 people), with about of 100,000 of those people moving to Boise. So it should be no surprise that the three tower cranes in Boise are busy on multi-family projects in the downtown core. These pictures are a bit old (March 5), so these cranes may have already been removed.
6th and Front Streets. Not sure who the general contractor is, but the owner's representative is Paradigm.
5th and Grove Streets. Andersen Construction is the general contractor.
The cranes for the 5th and Grove and 6th and Front projects shown together.
South 4th and West Broad Streets. The general contractor is ESI.
Bonus crawler crane on East Myrtle Street between South Avenue A and South Avenue B.
One last picture. The reason for our Boise visit was to check out Boise State University. Mission accomplished...my daughter Ella will be attending this Fall as a (wait for it)...construction management student! We are very excited for her.
Building on my previous post about running/walking from tower crane to tower crane when visiting cities, it is with bittersweet emotion that I post pictures from San Diego. My wife and I have been visiting San Diego fairly often to visit our daughter Grace while she was a student at San Diego State University. Over the past four years, most of the action seemed to be taking place in La Jolla, with major biotech projects going up one after another, along with a major four tower crane project at UC San Diego. I never visited those projects, but the pictures below are an ode to the work happening in downtown and in Mission Valley. These pictures are a little more than a month old (May 24). Six tower cranes and a bonus crawler, La Jolla excluded.
Swinerton project on Front Street. Given the surroundings, this will likely be a high rise multi-family building.
Holland Construction on behalf of Holland Group. Given Holland Group's property portfolio, this will likely also be multi-family. The Federal courthouse is in the background.
Major renovation/addition in the Gaslamp District that will be an AC Marriott. The Briad Group is the developer.
The next two projects are in the Banker's Hill neighborhood just west of Balboa Park. They look very much like multi-family projects, which would make sense given the surroundings. I cannot tell who the general contractors are.
Moving into Mission Valley, the project below is also being performed by Holland. This who area is changing with the construction of the new Aztec Stadium, which I could not get close enough to get a picture of the crawler crane on that project.
The next three pictures are bonus pictures.
Crawler crane at the Horton Plaza renovation project being run by Turner Construction.
While neither taco nor tower crane, if you are in Newport Beach, head to Bear Flag Fish Co. You will not regret it.
Lastly, congratulations Grace. Now I get to visit you in San Francisco and dragging you project sites. #prouddad
This is the first of three posts on tower cranes. To answer the question in the title of why do I count tower cranes, there are three answers, with the first being the shortest and simplest: I'm a nerd. If you are in the construction industry and anything like me (or Bob Kjome), you think tower cranes are cool. They tend to show up on big projects in dense (read: complicated) urban environments. My daughters and wife ridicule me mercilessly for watching tower cranes #sorrynotsorry.
Second (which really builds on the previous point or being a geek): when I visit cities and stay in a hotel downtown, I will usually walk or run from tower crane to tower crane as a way to get exercise and see cities from the perspective of where the biggest changes are occurring. The tower cranes give me waypoint markers so I don't get lost. Since tower cranes are typically building projects in established, up-and-coming, or gentrifying neighborhoods, running between tower cranes helps me from wandering into rough neighborhoods. I am directionally challenged.
Third: most importantly, tower cranes are a sign of strong economic development. If you drive into a city with a lot of tower cranes on the skyline, it is a pretty good bet that there is a high rate of economic growth in that area. When San Francisco pulled out of the 2009 housing crash, there were dozens of tower cranes building high rise condos and office buildings. Same goes for Seattle. What do San Francisco and Seattle have in common? Both are home to many tech companies that have fared very well since 2009 and have accelerated their growth throughout the year of COVID-19. The mother of all growth stories has been Toronto, which has had over 200 tower cranes up for several years. Construction consulting firm Rider Levett Bucknall tracks tower crane counts and summarizes insights as to how the counts correlate with construction industry economic health. However, RLB does not track many mid and smaller markets. That's a gap I try to fill. With that being said...
What's up Sacramento?
Last quarter, Sacramento had five tower cranes plus two large crawler cranes. We lost the tower crane at DesCor's Mansion Inn project at H Street between 15th and 16th Streets but gained three tower cranes in the Railyards, so we now have seven tower cranes on our skyline with one crawler at the Richards Boulevard site. Details are below, moving from the west (West Sacramento, technically) to the east.
CalSTRS second tower at 3rd and E Streets in West Sacramento, DPR Construction.
Sacramento Commons, 5th and O Streets, Deacon Construction.
Two new kids on the block. Sacramento County Courthouse, the block bordered by G and H Streets and 5th and 6th Streets, Clark Construction.
The other new kid on the block: Condo project in the Railyards, Brown Construction.
The bonus crawler crane at the DGS Richards Blvd./N. 7th Street complex, Hensel Phelps.
Apartments at the intersection of 16th Street and F Street, Sunseri Construction.
Hyatt House, K and 28th Streets in Midtown. MarketOne Builders.
Coming next: San Diego and Boise.
I don't want to get too romantic, but beautiful sunrises over construction sites always lift my spirits. The Tschannen Eye Institute building (being built by McCarthy Building Companies) and an associated parking structure (being build by Clark Pacific) are really coming along.
In addition to touring the WELL Expansion, we walked the Hornet Commons student housing project with Sacramento City Councilmember Jeff Harris. Opening this fall, Hornet Commons is a $150 million student housing project supplying 1,100 beds directly adjacent to Sac State.