I was in Austin the week before last for a few days of rest and relaxation. I was in Austin in 2015 and was impressed by the number of tower cranes back then. The current skyline is even more impressive. By my count, I could see 24 tower cranes one the following types of projects:
Food and Drink:
I wasn't able to get back to Franklin BBQ, but Terry Black's was pretty damn good (and 20 minute wait vs. 2.5 hours). But hands down, I highly recommend a visit to Still Austin for some bourbon. Bonus points if it's Drag Queen Bingo Day.
I'm little behind on this, yet on April 22 I was given a tour of the Cathedral Square project on 10/11th and J Streets in Sacramento. When this project started, I was pretty excited. That stretch of J Street is a bit dodgy (to put it very politely) and I like how the steeples Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament punctuate the Sacramento skyline. In a chance encounter with Neal Cordeiro, the "Cor" in DesCor Builders, the general contractor on the project, I subtly mentioned "I would love to tour your project with the tower crane" and Neal said, "set up a tour with Jeff and let me know and I'll come along." Jeff, as in Jeffry Meier, is an alum of Sac State's Construction Management program and a former student. Now I'm all in. We invited Jeff's dad, Henry to tag along. I have worked for and with Henry over the years and he's been a great mentor since I joined Sac State in 2009. I am a big fan of DesCor's work having been involved with a dining hall they built on the St. Francis High School campus. And I always like walking jobsites with former students; the best part of being a teacher is seeing former students slaying it in the professional world. This site visit scratched a lot of itches for me. Bonus points for there being a tower crane involved.
The building developer is Anthem and its a six story building with one level of subterranean parking, parking and retail on the concrete podium first floor and five floors of timber residential with a rooftop bar. Below are the pictures from the site walk and check out the bundled 2x6 framing!
The view from J Street. This will be an architectural gem that replaces unsalvageable blight.
First floor retail area looking towards the corner of 11th and J Streets
Timberrrrrrrr! With the escalating cost of dimensional lumber, I can't even wrap my mind around the cost of this building. We did discuss how it is less expensive to quadruple-up 2x6 boards than buy 8x6s. Even I could hang a picture securely in this unit when it's complete.
Great views of the skyline with the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on the background. The perfect place to have a cocktail.
I'm still burning off the sushi extravaganza lunch that followed the site walk. Thanks for the tour Jeff and Neal!
This year I got to be the first guest lecture in Henry Meier's CM 10 class. I spoke a million miles an minute, so the slides are below:
After taking 2021 off, I'm back on the CFMA circuit. In spite of COVID, I have a bullish view on the Sacramento design and construction engineering market. Check out the slides below and e-mail me at email@example.com with questions or comments or if you just want to talk shop.
You would think a simple Google search would reveal the number of active tower cranes there are in London today, but that is not the case. As such, I will use a less scientific phrase to describe the number: umpteen. As in a bloody lot. There was over 200 over a decade ago and with the Brexit vote the prevailing wisdom was that London would hit the skids. From my vantage point, that just does not seem to be the case. I didn't see ALL of London, but from Heathrow Airport in the west to the Tower Bridge in the east, I saw over 100 tower cranes (basically, I gave up counting out of exhaustion and the inability to keep up). Below are are few notable sites I observed over four days in December.
It occurred to me last week that I did not do a tower crane count for the third quarter for Sacramento. My bad...but the fourth quarter count has some new cranes and the overall count from Q2 to Q4 increased by one. Since this summer, here are the cranes that were removed from the Sacramento skyline:
New tower crane #1: multifamily development on S Street between 16th and 17th Streets. I am not sure of who the general contractor is, but Largo Concrete is currently mobilized.
New tower crane #2: Cathedral Square multifamily project on J Street and 11th Street. DesCor Builders is the GC.
Slightly more east than the next project is a multifamily project on Railyard Boulevard between 6th and 7th Streets. Brown Construction is the general contractor.
Two tower cranes at the Sacramento County Courthouse replacement project. Clark Construction is the GC.
Last but not least...the longest standing tower crane of the current class: CalSTRS second tower at 3rd and E Streets in West Sacramento, DPR Construction.
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.
This page is dedicated to the stuff I love and, for no defensible reason, want to share with the world. Enjoy!