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Chinese Firms Claims It Can Build World's Tallest Tower in 90 Days 389

An anonymous reader writes "Even since the current world's tallest builing — the Burj Khalifa in Dubai — was completed, there has been a constant battle to build the world's next tallest building. The current record holder stands tall at 828 meters and took five years to build, but a Chinese company called Broad Sustainable Building aims to smash that record by building the 838 meter Sky City tower, in Changsa, China in a mere 90 days. BSB plans to use prefab building techniques to construct the tower in record time."
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Chinese Firms Claims It Can Build World's Tallest Tower in 90 Days

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:13AM (#40367457)

    Absolutely nothing can go wrong....

  • kinda cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smash ( 1351 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:23AM (#40367487) Homepage Journal
    If you pre-fab everything on the ground then its not really "building", more like "assembling".
  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:24AM (#40367493)

    Same as using libraries instead of writing everything from scratch is cheating right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:26AM (#40367495)

    While it may have taken more than 90 days to build the Empire State Building, the same pre-fab techniques such as off-site fabrication and on-site assembly were used to build that monument to the American spirit.

    Everyone scoffs at the Chinese when they boast like this, but there really isn't any particular problem with what they are proposing. Given enough lead time and sufficient raw materials, they should be able to assemble a world-record building in the timeframe specified. Naturally, some leeway may be necessary to account for weather, but other than that, good luck to them.

  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:30AM (#40367505)

    This how any high rise is build. It is definitely not cheating.

  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:39AM (#40367529)

    No. In civil engineerimng they do something alien called "design" where they spend most of their time. Moving the steel beams around to find where it fits, during construction, is uniquely computer science.

  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:4, Insightful)

    by azalin ( 67640 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:48AM (#40367551)
    No, but claiming "the programming was done in one week" when you are actually only compiling it and had 2 years in advance to write the libraries and the documentation. It's still a feat when you have to do all the debugging and testing, but not as impressive as the claim tries to make it sound like.
    I'll be watching it with interest but probably from a distance of 838+|x| meters.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:15AM (#40367659) Homepage

    Wonder who's now living in the identical buildings next to it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:17AM (#40367663)

    As a structural engineer, I do not doubt at all that they are able, or anyone for that matter, to put together a prefab tower in 90 days. This is no big deal. For example, in bridge projects it's a terribly common thing to put together temporary structures assembled from tubular steel bars which are about 10-story tall, and there are pre-fabricated steel beams being marketed for this sort of temporary work which are about 20 or 24 meters tall.

    And the only reason that these temp structures aren't taller is because in bridge works after about 20 meters the valleys tend to be wide enough so that it tends to be more economical to use other building techniques, such as incremental launch.

    What I doubt is that this type of tower is economical or capable of handling the design loads for a specific region. After a certain scale, there are significant economical advantages to be had by optimizing structural elements, particular in steel structures, and "one size fits all" make it impossible to take advantage of this. Moreover, there isn't exactly a lot of demand for temporary skyscrappers. Even in cases where a catastrophy raises the need for temporary housing and infrastructure, you don't need a 1km-tall structure to sort things out.

    My main concern is quality assessment and safety. If you are going to build a extremelly specialized and optimized structure intended to house tens of thousands people, you simply cannot rush things or cut corners on safety checks. If some bolts aren't screwed adequately, a lot of people can die. A couple of months ago there was a report on a chinese bridge being inaugurated while its safety railings weren't even bolted to the structure, which has been pointed out by a chinese engineer working on the project. If this sort of rush job is done with such a large structure, we have a calamity waiting to happen.

  • Wrong questions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SgtChaireBourne ( 457691 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:26AM (#40367707) Homepage
    You are asking the wrong questions. It's a cultural thing but if you ask a question that can be answered with "yes", that's all you're going to hear. You need to ask open questions. Instead of "is it going to be done on time?, ask "how far have you gotten?" and so forth. Even then it's not guaranteed that you'll get all the info you were looking for.
  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:33AM (#40367743)

    Is it just me or should building skyscrapers not be a speed trial in any case?

  • Re:progress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:40AM (#40367765) Homepage Journal

    Of-course, China has much freer market than almost anybody else on the planet, all the businesses that are there, all the people, who moved their investment capital there, all the companies that produce there, you think they are there because China is communist? China is a communist like I am a ballerina.

    Also, China to USA is what Germany is to Greece, except Greece cannot print money and USA can, but the rest of the relationship is the same, USA needs China much more than China needs USA. [slashdot.org] Here is one of debates on this [fora.tv], the people in the audience don't understand it and don't want to hear about it (no surprise, so many are Chinese expatriates)

  • Re:Wrong questions (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:41AM (#40367773) Homepage

    It's not a "cultural thing", they're just a bunch of cutthroat bloody liars who never take responsibility for or even admit to failure, and I'm middlingly sick of hearing it excused as "culture, man, you have to understand the culture". It's just plain old deception to keep the funding coming for another month.

    IME, the only way to deal with it is to pay for fully QA'd, stamped and sealed results, not development. Apropos to this case, I'd pay for their magical tower in annual instalments after it was put up and stayed up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:44AM (#40368039)

    Am I the only one feeling a bit uneasy about this thread? Some Chinese construction projects are underfunded and of poor quality, therefore all Chinese buildings are crap? Some Chinese products are rip-off of foreign products, therefore all Chinese tech is copied? All Chinamen talk funny therefore all Chinamen dumb?

    Maybe I'm just reading too much into it. In this specific case we simply don't know enough about it to come to any conclusion. Occasionally Boeing or Airbus aircraft crash due to shoddy constructing, faulty equipment (that they knew was faulty), improper maintenance due to the airline being cheap and so forth. In that case we look at the nature of the problem and decide if the entire fleet is at risk, and if not happily get on the next flight of an identical aircraft flying a near identical route. Blanket assumptions about all EU/US products do not follow.

  • Re:kinda cheating (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MartinSchou ( 1360093 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @07:44AM (#40368043)

    So what you're saying is, that people in construction know how to make proper contracts?

    I've actually done software development for and with engineering companies, and the ones I've worked with had a very interesting view on deadlines - they'd rather things work before being put to use, to the point that they'd move the deadline.

    Hell, I got my ass chewed off for working overtime to finish a project on time. My boss (an engineer by trade and education) had taken my project estimation and essentially tripled it before sending it to the client. He wasn't upset that my estimation was off, he was upset that I didn't have the balls to come up and say "hey, there's a problem with this, and I can't make it on time".

    It's amazing to work with those kinds of people. The kind of people that will make it abundantly clear, that the client gets what they paid for, and what they paid for is in the specifications.

    THAT is the biggest problem with IT. Everybody being to scared to say no. Write the specification with the client, get their signature on it. Do not deviate without renegotiating EVERYTHING, including payment and deadlines.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:02AM (#40368139) Journal

    You are comparing the price of the *building* to the price of what? An entire lot with a home built on it? The lot is the expensive part!

  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:09AM (#40368187)

    Am I the only one feeling a bit uneasy about this thread? Some Chinese construction projects are underfunded and of poor quality, therefore all Chinese buildings are crap? Some Chinese products are rip-off of foreign products, therefore all Chinese tech is copied? All Chinamen talk funny therefore all Chinamen dumb?

    What concerns me is that an artificial deadline has been imposed for completing a very ambitious project. When a deadline is set, it creates, in many cases, a very strong tendency to meet the deadline, even if it means cutting corners. Combine that with a culture where face is very important and you have a potentially dangerous combination. Non of which is unique to China, universal for all of China; nor not prevalent in many other countries around the world.

    Or, as we used to put it when building industrial sites - "We offer good, fast, and cheap options. Pick the two you want."

  • by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:58AM (#40368609) Homepage

    From what I know about skyscraper construction, the biggest challenge will be access to the site. There is just so much material that needs to be delivered to put up a building of that height at that pace, even if prefabricated.

    I'm aware they built a hotel in 15 days, but this building is about 300x times larger by mass and they are only giving themselves 6x more time. This means they have to work at a 50x rate as compared to the previous project.

    Conclusion: color me doubtful.

  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:15AM (#40368795)

    I happen to be in structural engineering, and I have to say that you clearly don't know what you are talking about. I'll tell you why.

    Nowadays, and for a couple of decades now, there isn't a single european contractor who does not rely on prefabrication. Concrete structures tend to make this a bit harder to pull, but their building cost is so much lower than steel structures that the extra time spent on a project easily offsets costs. Even then, there are quite a number of prefab structural elements and modules, such as pre-slabs and composite slabs with profile steel sheeting, that help out a lot. With steel structures, even with composite slabs, it's quite easy to put up high numbers of floors in a limited number of days. The only limit that affects this is how fast you can hoist the beam and column elements, and how fast your crew is able to set the necessary connections.

    I suspect that in the US it's even more widespread. There are companies which even put together factories to assemble entire houses in assembly lines, and steel construction is much more widespread than concrete.

    So, your comment on the use of prefab techniques is obviously bullshit.

    Then, regarding your conspiracy theory, it is once again bullshit. To start off, as any product on earth, housing prices aren't defined by construction costs, but only on what clients are willing to spend on them. Meanwhile, construction costs, with today's technology, basically depends only on what finishings the client wishes. As a demonstration, you claimed that 86k is such a great deal. Yet, that's the price Ikea asks for a tiny apartment with an area of about 70mÂ. This represents a unit cost of about 1228â/mÂ, and this without accounting for the price of the property and any licenses and services which are needed to build it. Knowing this, do you actually know what's the average unit cost for building a similar house on a property, including the price of the property itself? Between 500â/m and 900â/mÂ.

    In other words, your example costs at least twice as much to build than a regular house.

    So, at least take your tinfoil hat off once in a while. The world isn't set out to get you.

  • by digitalsolo ( 1175321 ) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:45AM (#40369945) Homepage
    My 1500 square foot house on a 29k dollar lot cost 130k dollars to build, and I have quite a bit higher end materials than the "builder grade" stuff that they recommend when you spec out a house.

    Perhaps on either coast (and even that depends on where on the coast) your numbers may be close, but anywhere in between those numbers are quite a bit high.

    Around these parts (midwest, large city) you can get 2 acres and a 2500+ square foot home for 250-350k dollars without much effort.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky