from how we collaborate
to how we envision our future
the changing landscape
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E x e cut iv e Pe r s pe ct iv e
Q & A wit h mat t hijs bo uw
A bbe y Ga ncz
a d o ct o r a nd his g r e e nho use
bl ig ht is br ig ht
a cit y f o r a l l
t o t he s k y
Mark Kinnee Senior Vice President
IS S UE No. 9
In this issue From topics on climate, to collaboration, to culture, we’re excited to explore the ever-evolving landscape of engineering through the perspectives of engineers, architects, artists, scientists, politicians, and everyday citizens.
Andrew Cushman Corey Fenwick Cody Lowry
Luke Cloran Andrew Ludewig Kaytalin Platt
Andrew Cushman Cody Lowry
Urban Video Productions®
Special Thanks Matthijs Bouw Philadelphia Mural Arts Elizabeth Thomas University of Pennsylvania Dr. Henry Daniell Roxana Azar
CTfastrak City of New Britain City of Philadelphia Licenses & Inspections
On resiliency, the Big U, and changing the way we collaborate.
Faces of Formulating Excellence ®
Advancing research to deliver medicine to the global population.
A glimpse into the world of psychylustro.
How New Britain, CT, developed a “Complete Streets” Master Plan, and in the process gained so much more.
Urban’s Special Inspections practice continues to reach new heights.
A da m o s t ino ws k y
mo d e r nizing t he t ur npik e
Faces of Formulating Excellence ®
Newly constructed lanes open on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE Mark Kinnee, PE Senior Vice President
We need to have the infrastructure that allows for the safe and efficient movement of people and goods throughout the country.
The federal transportation funding bill is due to expire in May
Several states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland,
and Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that a long-
Massachusetts, and Ohio, have stepped up during the
term transportation funding solution is needed. Investing in
past few years to address the transportation funding
our infrastructure is not a partisan issue but how we pay for it
problem themselves, but without a robust federal
remains the big question.
program, this positive momentum will be lost. In Pennsylvania, Act 89 will add approximately $2.3 billion
Although there are many different options being discussed, we
in transportation funding during a five-year period by
believe that an increase in the gas tax should be part of the
removing the cap on the Oil Company Franchise Tax. It
answer. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in six years
is estimated that the average driver will pay about $2.54
with the national average at $2.30 a gallon according to
per week, which will allow 7,000 bridges and more than
AAA. After paying close to $4.00 a gallon just years ago, this
10,000 miles of roadway to be improved or rebuilt.
would seem to be our best opportunity for an increase. It is imperative that we pass a long-term funding bill The federal gas tax has not been increased since 1993. While
if we are going to remain competitive in the global
the tax generates approximately $34 billion per year, the
marketplace. We need to have the infrastructure that
federal government typically spends approximately $50 billion
allows for the safe and efficient movement of people and
on highway and transit projects annually. Although there may
goods throughout the country. Many of us in the industry
be better long-term solutions to funding our infrastructure
have been instrumental at the state level in educating our
needs, the gas tax is still the most-effective means at this time
elected officials on the need for additional funding. We
to assess a â€œuser feeâ€? for those on the roads.
here at Urban urge everyone to put forth the same effort in communicating the need to our federal legislators.
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Urban launches Los Angeles office to manage major transit projects.
The LA Metro is closer than ever to
destinations such as Miracle Mile, Beverly
and Director of Contracts. He brings a
connecting western LA to the region’s
Hills, Century City, and Westwood.
360-degree experience in diversified
growing rail network, and improving
engineering management duties involving
mobility for everyone who lives, works, and
Urban has recently launched a new
planning, designing, and implementing
plays throughout LA County.
office to provide Project Management
heavy, light, electric multiple unit, and
Oversight Consultant (PMOC) services for
commuter rail projects.
The long-awaited Metro Purple Line
the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
Subway Extension is now under
for this project. Al Scala, who has been
construction. From the current terminus at
charged with leading Urban’s efforts, has
Wilshire/Western, the Purple Line Extension
more than 33 years experience, including
will expand westward for about nine miles
serving in various consultant roles, as well
with seven new stations. This will provide
as a six-year tenure with the Los Angeles
a high-capacity, high-speed, dependable
County Metropolitan Transportation
alternative for those traveling to and
Authority where he acted as Deputy
from LA’s “second downtown,” including
Project Manager/Systems Engineering
3 / urbanengineers.com
Office Address: 515 S. Flower Street, 36th Floor Los Angeles, CA 90071
Contact Al Scala: 213.236.3514 email@example.com
How They Put an Ice Skating Rink next to Philadelphia’s City Hall For more information on the Rothman Institute Ice Rink, visit the Center City District’s website: http://www.ccdparks.org/dilworth-park
This winter, the transformation of Dilworth Park’s central fountain into the Rothman Institute Ice Rink, left many asking, “How did they do that?” To ensure that the rink would be able to be setup and dismantled for the winter season, three key permanent infrastructure aspects were ingrained into the park’s design. They were:
1) Underground chiller lines - These keep the rink
frozen, as well as prevent people from tripping over large insulated hoses on the plaza surface. 2) An ice melt pit - located next to the rink, It captures
the shavings from the Zamboni. 3) A dedicated electrical service to power the chiller -
It is crucial to keep the rink frozen, so its own utility line was required.
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Q&A with Matthijs Bouw
On resiliency, the Big U, and changing the way we collaborate.
Matthijs Bouw, principal of One Architecture,
148 international applicants. The six winning projects
based in the Netherlands, likes having the ability
have received initial funding of $920 million, with
to select RFPs based on where his company can
the Big U receiving $335 million of its $1.2 billion
make the most impact. When the Rebuild by Design
first phase. The six designs are just the start of a
Competition was announced, he knew it was a once-
nationwide effort that will ultimately change the way
we think of infrastructure.
Rebuild by Design was organized by President
What attracted you to the competition?
Barack Obamaâ€™s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force as part of a larger $60 billion federal aid package for the NJ-NY-CT region in response to the natural disasterâ€™s devastation in 2013. One Architecture teamed with the international architectural company Bjarke Ingels Group and focused their efforts on resiliency in Lower Manhattan. Their submission, called the Big U, was eventually selected as one-of-six winning solutions among 10 multidisciplinary design teams that feature
5 / urbanengineers.com
Coming from Dutch culture, where there is a collective narrative about how things are shared, the prospect of multidisciplinary teams working collaboratively with the communities and agencies of the New York region to change the culture of urban design was super exciting.
Matthijs Bouw is the Rockefeller Urban Resilience Fellow at University of Pennsylvania.
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“Resiliency is about fixing your boiler and wiring to the Big U and everything in between. It’s a very exciting theme.”
The “Big U” Rendering by: The Big Team
what are the next steps? In some ways, we’re going to have to go through the same phases all over again. Specifically, we have to better understand how the Greater New York City implementing agencies work and see how we can align
the ability to calculate whether it’s better to prevent these disasters, such as in Manhattan, or prepare like in other cities. Resiliency is about fixing your boiler and wiring to the Big U and everything in between. It’s a very exciting theme.
their working methods. We also need to find a way to involve the engineering teams because they have had a limited part in the process. I tend to believe that this type of integrated, multidisciplinary work is the approach of the future. We all need to learn it - the engineering companies, designers, agencies, and communities - all of us.
What has influenced your design approach?
What are the advantages of the Big U? In the United States, issues that could be looked at and designed from a collective point of view often are not. After Hurricane Sandy, you saw all these transit authorities and DOTs who were sort of covering some holes, changing some wiring, etc. These are band-aids that need to be there now, but it would be helpful if the funding for all these projects could be linked together.
In the Netherlands, we are very good at preventing
With the Big U, we think a lot of the work could be done
disasters from happening because we have this century-
up front and for a much lower total cost.
old planning machinery that is relatively top down. Also, because the country is below sea level, the only option we have is protection and prevention. Otherwise, the country would simply flood. In the U.S. though, you have 7 / urbanengineers.com
The “Big U” Rendering by: The Big Team
Why is risk management important?
preparedness or prevention?
Risk management is the crucial element of every
Right now, insurance programs are based on
plan. Basically, if you don’t organize a process
the wrong models and very heavy subsidies, so
well, you will lose a lot of money. The amount
it is hard to determine this. While they might get
of money spent in the United States is sizeable,
updated 10-15 years from now, my assumption is
but spent very inefficiently. For instance, there’s
that the cost-benefits analysis will look completely
$60 billion in Hurricane Sandy aid. If agencies
different then. In terms of market research, you
would collaborate, the amount of money would
could start inputting stronger storms into your
go much further. Approximately $1.5 billion was
models and then identify where the cost-benefits
spent on Lower Manhattan and for that we could
ratio between preparedness and prevention starts
have built that part of the Big U and there would
to change. Knowing how this would help you
have been enough money left over to build a
prepare from a market view where these tipping
school and museum there as well. Now, all the
points are and what to be ready for.
Wall Street businesses are trying to fortify their buildings one by one. It’s very inefficient.
Final thoughts? As designers, we have this broad scope where
What is most costly about projects? The problem is not the very simple construction costs. In engineering and urban projects, once you strip everything down to labor and materials, it’s actually only 40% of the total amount spent. What actually ends up costing the most time and money is the process. Our world is complex and if you deny it, you’ll find it on your plate again later. Therefore, we have to embrace the complexity in
we can be of service. Of course, our design skills can be used for an engineer’s project, but we also need to be able to reposition ourselves as storytellers and facilitators so that we can bring individuals, communities, and agencies together around one vision. We should use design not only to attract people to certain issues and get them to congregate around them, but also to shape narratives about how people can benefit.
the beginning and find a way to make it simple again. If you don’t find a way to cut the red tape early, you’re going to repeat steps, which costs more money in the long run.
For more Information, VISIT: onearchitecture.nl excellence / 8
FACE S OF F o r m u l ati n g exc el l en c e®
Abbey Gancz HIGHWAY ENGINEER Abbey Gancz has more inspiration than a
is most excited the project has
motivational speaker’s handbook.
improved safety at six intersections with additional intersections in design.
- Never stop learning and improving yourself - Uphold high quality for each and every project
She is also particularly proud of the team’s ability to work on a fast-track schedule and coordinate between the numerous stakeholders, including
- Personal satisfaction in all areas of life
the City, Pennsylvania Department of
- One day at a time
Transportation, and utility companies
- Focus on things within my control; let go
of the rest It’s not all work for Abbey. She considers But for anyone who knows Abbey, the
having a baby her best decision, likes
diligent Highway Engineer with a passion
to hit the gym to lift weights, and enjoys
for her craft and an insatiable quest for
crafting. But one of her true passions
training and knowledge, this is not a
is serving others. Abbey is an active
member of the Scholarship Committee of the Philadelphia Engineering Foundation
Abbey joined Urban in 2007 after
(PEF); a WTS member on the Scholarship
graduating from Drexel University
and Membership Committees; and, most
and immediately looked for growth.
recently, became an Instructor for Urban’s
Professionally, Abbey has worked on
Training Institute. Her first course, offered
some of Philadelphia’s most important
to internal and external professionals, is
projects, including the Benjamin
‘Curb Ramp Implementation and Design’.
Franklin Parkway and the ARLE Funded Citywide Intersection Improvements.
“Urban,” says Abbey, “invests in my
As Lead Highway Designer on the
development and in turn, I invest myself in
Citywide Intersection Improvements
for the Department of Streets, Abbey
For more Faces of Formulating Excellence, click here.
excellence / 10
11 / urbanengineers.com
a Doctor and his greenhouse At the University of Pennsylvaniaâ€™s School of Dental Medicine, molecular biologist Dr. Henry Daniell is advancing the use of plants to deliver medicine to the global population.
Dr. Henry Daniell is a real-life superhero. A native of India, he grew up watching children die because they did not have access to medicine. Inspired to make a difference, he has been researching a more cost-effective way of getting the global population the medicine it needs. His solution? Plants. Drugs made in plants can be orally delivered in capsules, thus eliminating the need for the expensive production methods of today.
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“I have seen children die from not having enough medicine. So I challenged myself to find another way of doing things.” Dr. Daniell is only the 14th American in 222 years to be elected to the Italian National Academy of Sciences founded by Galileo. The others include Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein.
In 2013, Urban’s engineering team worked with JLL, the
and less humid inside. The doctor explained that the greenhouse’s
international commercial real estate and investment management
side and roof panels shift in reaction to the amount of daylight.
firm, on the expedited construction of a $2 million, 2,900-SF
This, in coordination with the internal cooling fans, help keep the air
greenhouse, funded by Penn’s School of Dental Medicine, for the
temperatures between 73.4 degrees and 75.2 degrees Fahrenheit to
doctor’s research. Urban’s corporate development team had the
ensure optimal plant growth.
privilege of getting to know Dr. Daniell while photographing his high-tech greenhouse. Here is what we learned.
The living Greenhouse We entered the first room, which contained rows of tables of lettuce plants at various stages of growth. The doctor, standing next to
The doctor As we arrived at the greenhouse, the doctor was waiting expectedly to greet us and welcome us into his facility. Tucked away at the back of an industrial property on the south bank of the Schuylkill River, the greenhouse is the first new construction on this site in many years. Penn acquired the site in 2010 and aims to repurpose it as “Pennovation Works” a hub for research and innovation. The greenhouse is definitely unique, one of only a few like it in the world. The doctor walked toward us with his hand extended, a smile on his face, and eagerness in his approach. He was wearing a tie that was appropriately adorned with strands of DNA. Given his stature, you would suspect him to carry an air of conceit. On the contrary, right away everything about the doctor exuded friendliness and sincerity. We entered the front door into a holding area where we waited before entering the main part of the greenhouse. The doctor cautioned us that the outer door needed to be shut first before entering because of strict climate controls. It was hot and humid, in the high-80 degrees, yet the greenhouse was noticeably cooler 13 / urbanengineers.com
one of the lettuce plants, began explaining, “Insulin is a drug that has been commercially available for 50 years, yet is simply too expensive for the majority of the world to pay out of pocket,” he says. “Especially when you consider that one-third of the global population earns less than $2 per day.” Protein drugs like insulin, or interferon for cancer, are currently produced in fully sterile fermentation systems that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain. The drugs, which are cultivated in cell cultures of yeast and bacteria, are required to be purified to 99.99%. “Many vaccines are based on ‘killed’ or inactivated viruses, but there’s no such thing as 100% killed,” he claimed. This process results in each batch costing millions of dollars. Additionally, the required “cold chain” of refrigeration increases the cost of vaccines and makes them difficult to transport to remote areas in developing nations where electrical connections are scarce. This past year, for instance, issues with the availability of cold storage facilities led to polio outbreaks in Asia. Another advantage, Daniell said, of using plants to deliver vaccinations is that plant cells have fibrous walls made of cellulose, which cannot be broken down by human enzymes, though they can be degraded by the microbes that reside in the gut. “All we
1. A researcher prepares the tiny cassette containing the vaccination, which he will later “shoot” into the plant’s cells.
2. The plants with vaccines are dried and placed in capsules.
3. Cultivation of the plants containing vaccines at Dr. Daniell’s lab within Penn’s Leon Levy Center for Oral Health Research.
the nearly 700-mile round trip numerous
irrigation is used and connected to each
times from Boston to Ithaca to test the new
individual plant to ensure optimal moisture.
method. Eventually, they made it work.
Growing a cheaper Drug By discovering this technology, he was able to accelerate his research. Today, in the lab he uses a “gene gun” very similar to the one he developed years ago. But instead of
needed to do was add a tag that enables the vaccine to be able to cross the epithelial wall,” he said. “I looked into nature for other tags that cheat our system and observed how cholera and HIV tags worked. I attached the cholera tag to the insulin and watched where it went.” The experiment worked. As a result, the doctor was able to develop a variety of tags to effectively get vaccinations into a plant’s genome. He had yet to develop a way to get the tags into the plant’s fibrous cell walls. Fortunately, at about the same time, scientists at Cornell University were testing a “gene gun” concept. “They were actually trying to shoot dye into pollen and playing around with that concept,” Daniell said. So, the doctor made
real bullets, which were used at one time, this contemporary method utilizes a highlevel of helium pressure of 1,300 PSI. As a reference, the doctor reminds us, a car’s tire pressure is just 32 PSI. Now, Daniell can grow all the different tissues of a plant starting from a single cell in a culture dish. He can make modifications to one plant cell and, from that, grow a plant in which every cell has those modifications. We continue walking through the greenhouse, passing through three separate doors into rooms housing various plants. In the first two rooms were lettuce plants. The last contained tobacco plants. The plants are grown on elevated tables to permit ideal working height for the researchers and drip
At the back of the greenhouse, there was a small room for monitoring the greenhouse’s climate controls. At any time, Daniell’s colleagues can check and change heating, cooling, humidity, and irrigation from their research offices on main campus. As the plants grow to maturity, they are harvested and taken back to the lab for drying and testing. After drying, they become just like kitchen herbs commonly used for cooking and similarly, they have long shelf-lives. We asked him if people could actually eat one of the lettuce plants to receive their dosage of medicine. Dr. Daniell thought that this would be risky. He said that plants are made almost entirely of water and therefore have to be dehydrated first to help measure the exact dosage. In his grand vision, though, the doctor believes that one day people afflicted by diabetes or hemophilia could actually grow their own medicine. excellence / 14
Dr. Daniellâ€™s concept has already been shown to protect from several infectious diseases, including Anthrax, plague, cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis, while providing numerous other effective solutions: - Oral drugs made in plants removed plaques from human and animal Alzheimerâ€™s disease brains
The greenhouseâ€™s climate controls and lighting are on display in this photo.
- Oral drugs have demonstrated the ability to lower blood sugar levels in Type 2 Diabetes and prevent the onset of Type 1 Autoimmune Diabetes - They have prevented and treated hypertension and diabetic retinopathy - Oral delivery of blood clotting factor made in plants prevented the devastating pathogenic antibody formation that predisposes to lifethreatening anaphylactic reactions that drug can cause
The greenhouse is helping train the next generation of scientists to develop affordable drugs.
- A non-invasive oral delivery platform to achieve prophylactic treatment and prevention of deleterious immune responses in both Hemophilia A and B - Several more drugs are in development to restore muscle strength in muscular dystrophy patients or prevent several autoimmune disorders
Tobacco plants being cultivated at the greenhouse. 15 / urbanengineers.com
According to the doctor, one acre has been shown to produce more than 300 million doses of anthrax vaccine, enough to protect all Americans from a bio-terror attack.
their own medicine. This leads to discussing the other
progress with three other pharmaceutical companies.
major advantage of using plants. They can be easily
On the way back to Urban, we talked about the amazing
grown. In addition to low cost, he said, production
impact that Dr. Daniell’s research could have on future
capacity is unlimited. According to the doctor, one acre
generations. Beyond just learning more about the
has been shown to produce more than 300 million doses
greenhouse, we were honored to have become friends
of anthrax vaccine, enough to protect all Americans from
with the doctor and feel privileged to help share his
a bioterror attack.
mission of saving lives irrespective of their economic status, race, or origin.
CONCLUSION In addition to furthering Dr. Daniell’s research, the greenhouse is helping train the next generation of scientists develop affordable drugs for world. On several occasions during our visit, the doctor spoke about it with wonder. We thought, ‘this man’s a genius, yet he’s amazed by how the greenhouse works?’ According to Daniell, Penn has already signed a $100 million agreement with a major global pharmaceutical company
For more information on the project, contact: Christopher G. Gubeno, PE 215.922.8080 firstname.lastname@example.org
to produce two protein drugs. Research on polio vaccines made in plants is now funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is pursued in collaboration with the Federal Drug Administration. Negotiations are in
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B l i g h t IS
b r i g h t If you have traveled the Northeast Corridor to or from Philadelphia recently, you’ve probably noticed something quite unique among the landscape. It’s called psychylustro – seven eye-catching art installations commissioned by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and created by German artist Katharina Grosse in 2014. Extremely colorful, these massive swaths of paint cover the post-industrial blight that characterize this stretch of the corridor, bringing greater awareness of the space and surroundings for the nearly 34,000 daily passengers.
Artist: Katharina Grosse Curator: Elizabeth Thomas How you can view it: By train between 30th Street and North Philadelphia stations: Amtrak, SEPTA (Chestnut Hill West, Trenton Lines), and NJ Transit (Atlantic City Line).
19 / urbanengineers.com
psychylustro © 2014 Katharina Grosse All Rights Reserved Allpsychylustro photos in this article by Steve Weinik
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The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (Mural Arts) is the nation’s largest public art program, dedicated to the belief that art ignites change. For over 30 years, Mural Arts has united artists and communities through a collaborative process, rooted in the traditions of mural-making, to create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives. Mural Arts engages communities in 50–100 public art projects each year, and maintains its growing collection through a restoration initiative. Core Mural Arts programs, such as Art Education, Restorative Justice, and Porch Light, yield unique, project-based learning opportunities for thousands of youth and adults.
More on psychylustro from an interview with Project Curator Elizabeth Thomas: How did you become involved? First, Mural Arts approached the artist, Katharina Grosse, to visit and develop a project in Philadelphia. I was brought on before her initial site visit, so together we could find a situation that took advantage of the strengths of both Mural Arts’ and Katharina’s work.
What were some challenges related to the project? The interesting thing about the railway corridor is how many different entities own the space that looks, to an outsider, like one space (a single bridge can have multiple owners, for example, from the wall at ground level to the upper span). So, after identifying the sites we wanted to paint, we went through the process of vetting them with Amtrak and other entities for both permissions and feasibility. Some sites we didn’t pursue because they didn’t allow for access of lifts and equipment for us to reach the parts of the wall we wanted to paint. In the end, we needed permission from multiple agencies and private property owners, a complicated process, but one that was met with positive responses from most everyone we approached.
How does the community factor in with large-scale abstract installations like psychylustro?
(as we’ve seen in the way that public monuments have generally shifted from representational to abstract, the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial being the prime example of this shift). I think abstraction
Well, there are lots of different ways to think about the word
for Katharina opens a way of seeing the world without limits, and
“community.” In reality, there were at least 100 people who
a world that can be made and remade. I hope that some of that
were intimately involved in making this happen. In terms of the
spirit comes across in the project.
way Mural Arts has typically worked, an artist will usually go
was crafted much more purposefully as the vision of the artist,
What were the considerations for creating a sitespecific project that was meant to be experienced through a small train window?
curator, Mural Arts, and other partners for the community. This is
We thought as much about the viewing conditions of the window
not at all atypical of how public projects are conceived generally,
per se as the ideas of speed and continuous movement, since this
but it was a bit of an experiment for Mural Arts. In this case, we
really is an unprecedented viewing situation for a work of art (we
were all interested in what the possibilities were for imagining a
could find no real examples of something on this scale, conceived
new kind of public art experience, one that took advantage of the
as a total artwork, having happened before). So, I wouldn’t say
existing system of train travel to create something unprecedented
we gave privilege to the idea of the window, but instead tried to
in scale and in experience for a very broad audience, within the
think about all the different dimensions of this viewing experience
patterns of their daily life. We were also very interested in how an
in terms of the rhythm of the work and its placement, the scales of
abstract work would take advantage of these viewing conditions
verticality and horizontality, the idea of soundtracks for viewing,
to open up a conversation about abstraction and its relationship
the relationship of each individual painting at the seven sites to
to the world itself, not as an isolated phenomenon confined by the
the whole experience, and the relationship of what was painted
edges of a canvas.
and not painted along the way.
What is the value of bringing the abstract into the everyday?
For further information, call 215-685-0750 or visit www.
I really believe that there are no better or worse forms of art for
on Twitter and Instagram, phillymuralarts on YouTube, and
public space. I believe that thoughtfully considered, original,
MuralArtsPhiladelphia on Facebook.
into a community to meet with people and then make a work in response to their concerns. This project was very different as it
muralarts.org. Follow along on social media: @muralarts
site-responsive works in all forms should be encouraged and supported. In my opinion, the form isn’t the point, the intent is. So, the abstract as a form could be deployed to all different ends excellence / 24
How New Britain, CT developed a Complete Streets Master Plan, and in the process gained so much more.
A CITY FOR ALL
The Complete Streets Master Plan Working Group
The Foundations A once-thriving industrial city, New Britain (City) is working hard to regain momentum after years lost to economic downturn. For the first time in a long time, the City has a comprehensive plan in place to do so. The Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New Britain (Plan) is a guide that leverages the Cityâ€™s rich assets to create a more pedestrian-friendly, attractive, and livable environment throughout downtown.
New Britain has a Complete Streets background.
Funded through a HUD Sustainable Communities Grant, the
has also helped the City identify and prioritize the projects that will
Plan was developed by an Urban Engineers-led team, whose
bring the vision to reality. In 2014, the project received the Award
work was guided by a large group of stakeholders that included
of Excellence for Public Space from the Connecticut Main Street
residents, business leaders, members of the arts community, and
public officials. The Plan has been supported by three mayoral administrations and embraced by local leaders, leading to an
Although master plans can easily be derailed by numerous
invigorated belief in the future of the downtown by the community
variables, such as funding or lack of political support, this one has
as a whole. Improvements outlined in the Plan have already been
found the right mix of elements to be successful.
used successfully to help the City convey its vision to developers, funding agencies, and those already living and working there. It 27 / urbanengineers.com
of a successful master plan
The Champion, Mark Moriarty, PE #1
The Director of Public Works for New Britain for the past 10 years, Moriarty was not content doing the “normal job” of a public works official; he was committed to realizing a greater vision. “I wanted to capitalize on all the great things that New Britain has,” he said. Moriarty believed that by focusing on the downtown area, the City could change its future.
The City previously identified the $572 million CTfastrak Project as a tremendous opportunity for transit-oriented development in its 2008 Downtown Development Plan. CTfastrak will provide Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along a 9.4-mile dedicated busway corridor
between New Britain and Hartford, and also includes a five-mile,
are streets designed, operated, and
multi-use trail from Downtown New Britain to Newington Junction.
maintained with everyone in mind, regardless of age or physical ability.
With the CTfastrak’s BRT terminus station opening just blocks from
They enable safe access for pedestrians,
New Britain’s core, the City hopes to maximize transit-oriented
bicyclists, motorists, and public
development and employment opportunities downtown, as well
transportation users. Complete Streets
as support bus ridership and improve the quality of life for those
provide more transportation options,
who live and work there. This major infrastructure investment
and offer attractive, dedicated facilities
will provide residents, commuters, and visitors reduced travel
for each mode, which increases the
time for employment, recreational, residential, and commercial opportunities throughout the region.
likelihood they will be used.
Phase ONE Master Plan Improvements
Leveraging Rich Assets
New Britain rose to prominence as an industrial and manufacturing city, and in the early part of the 20th century became known as the “Hardware Capital of the World.” Like many industrial cities though, New Britain later fell on hard times. Urban renewal efforts during the 1970s and 1980s further degraded the downtown area by creating a street network that heavily favored vehicles over pedestrians. Today, many of the City’s best assets are still in place, such as the dense, walkability of downtown, the many beautiful, historically significant buildings, and open spaces. Steve Schiller, the City’s planner, said, “The street system has good bones and the street wall of buildings being close to sidewalks gives a human scale.” While working for the City for 29 years, Schiller has seen his share of attempts to remake the downtown, but nothing as comprehensive as this plan. “It’s an enormous change in thinking from how things have been done in the past,” he said.
The Mayor, Erin Stewart #4
Often, planning documents are directly affiliated with a single mayor’s agenda, and are disregarded if there is a change of
administration. Not so in New Britain. While the planning and implementation process associated with the Plan has spanned three mayors representing both major political parties, the strong support of City leaders has never wavered. Mayor Erin Stewart, a lifelong resident of New Britain, said, “We’re not talking about what New Britain used to be anymore, but what it’s going to be. The Master Plan has us all moving in the same direction with a main goal at the end.” Mayor Stewart is not the only one with a stake in the success of the Plan. Her father was the mayor in 2008 at the time the City began initiating some of this groundwork. “I hope to finish what he started,” she said.
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A CITY FOR ALL
The Cheerleader Craig Frederick, Working Group Member Artist and sculptor Craig Frederick is one
a competition for public art. Frederick’s
Complete Streets Master Plan. According to
of five generations of family members who
submission called “Home,” which was
Frederick, “Too often urban designers and
have been born and raised in New Britain.
designed to reflect the City’s diversity and
the like see only the “map view” value with
However, he grew up in a time when people
industrial history, won among 300 entries.
limited ability to design from the pedestrian
didn’t feel very good about the city. When
In addition to paying homage to New
perspective. Urban’s designs and solutions
he was 16 years old, he left New Britain
Britain, “Home” was also a family memorial.
speak to the broad range of factors
hoping for better opportunities elsewhere.
Fittingly, the piece was installed next to Arch
necessary for true, real life “livability,”
After becoming an internationally collected
Street in the downtown core, where at least
including safety, functionality, sustainability,
artist, and years of practicing and teaching
one member from five generations had
and aesthetics,” he said. Now that the
art and sculpture, Frederick returned in
either worked or lived. “I even met my wife
ball is rolling with the Plan, Frederick feels
1994, looking to be centrally located with
here,” he said. “I was the coffee addict who
less need to cheerlead. “I am convinced
art hubs Boston and New York City. “When
married his dealer.”
that the Master Plan will benefit the whole
I came back, I saw New Britain in a new
community. Being a town with over 20
light,” he said. “I saw a town that had a
Frederick and his wife bought a house, and
languages and a broad range of income
strong base for the arts and was ripe for
with no plans of ever moving again, he
demographics, that is very impressive. I
renewal, re-identification, and rebirth.”
became a passionate force in the design
have no worries as a property owner in New
Wanting to make a difference, he began
decisions affecting New Britain’s future.
Britain – I’m thrilled.”
cheerleading for the value of the arts as
As part of the Working Group, Frederick
an economic engine. “Thankfully a few
met Urban Engineers’ Erika Rush, who was
people listened.” New Britain then held
already busy working on New Britain’s first
excellence / 30
A CITY FOR ALL
CT fastrak opens this spring Rendering courtesy of CTfastrak
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Overall, the Plan identified more than $25 million of improvements. Even before the Plan was completed, the value of improvements suggested have been widely recognized and supported by many state and federal agencies. Grant funding is in place for many improvements and construction has already begun. The City has been successful getting the funds because its projects exemplify what grantors look for – economic development, infrastructure development, and community. In less than three years, the project has leveraged a small investment of federal HUD grant money ($212,500) to develop a comprehensive Plan that has already resulted in the City being awarded more than $9 million in competitive state and federal grants. This included a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program Grant for $1.3 million; a state Transit-Oriented Development Grant for $750,000; and a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Bus Livability Grant for $1.4 million, among other grant monies.
The Partner, Gerry Amodio
Commitment to the Process
The Plan was guided by a working group committed to downtown revitalization. Participants included area artists, local institutions, municipal officials, developers, the New Britain Downtown District, and the Polonia Business Association, which consists of Polish businesses and professionals throughout New England that is headquartered in New Britain. A Working Group member, Gerry Amodio, was born and raised in New Britain, and had a successful business in the City for 35 years. He remembers the New Britain of his childhood, “Growing up, we loved catching the bus, coming downtown for lunch and a movie, or just hanging out and shopping. But when the highway came through and the malls came in the 1970s, the downtown was gutted. For me, I had lost a friend.” As Executive Director of New Britain’s Downtown District, he is actively using the Plan to attract businesses and people to the City. “The Plan allows me to go out and entice people to move their business here, or come and move here. It shows that we know what we’re doing, what we want to get to, when we’re going to get there, and how were going to get there.” “From Day One, the people of New Britain have been interested in making the City better and helping shape the vision,” Urban’s Project Manager Erika Rush noted. “They were committed, and they’ve been supportive of every new idea we’ve proposed.” excellence / 32
A CITY FOR ALL It’s not often that the stars align just perfectly on a project, but for Erika Rush, Urban’s Director of Planning, working on the Complete Streets Master Plan for New Britain was such an experience.
To understand why, you first have to know that Rush has
architecture, shopping, restaurants, open space,
a couple of distinct passions – one is pretty obvious given
museums, and cultural attractions all within easy walking
her title, urban planning. The other, not so much. She
distance of each other - “It’s the people who’ve made it
is a collector of early 20th century electric toasters. Her
all possible. They share a vision for what is great about
first encounter with vintage toasters was in 1985 about
this City, and what this City can become,” Rush said.
the time she was first beginning her planning career. She recalls, “I was living in Brooklyn, earning well below the
Something else has been unique about this project for
poverty level as a city planner. I was visiting an antique
Rush. Remember the toasters? As the project began, the
store that had just opened in my neighborhood. There on
team explored many themes for the project’s wayfinding
a long table behind the owner were three shiny, chrome
signage. In a City so rich with history, there were many
things with very intricate detailing. I didn’t know what
possibilities. But one had special meaning. Of all her
they were, but they were so unique, they stopped me in
toasters, Rush’s favorites are the Universal line, made
my tracks.” Rush found out they were vintage toasters,
in the early 20th century by Landers, Frary & Clark, a
but at $45 each, much too expensive. The next spring
New Britain manufacturer. While Landers, Frary & Clark
she was walking through a Manhattan flea market and
created everything from can openers to ice skates, in
saw a table full of similar toasters for sale. At much
Rush’s opinion, their toasters were the crown jewels.
more affordable prices, she bought several and the rest
“They’re so sculptural to me. And they’re beautiful
is history. “What kept me going was the variety – and I
examples of American industrial design in so many
never saw the same one twice.”
aspects – from what they are made of, to how they look, to how they operate.”
In 2011, Rush and Urban’s Planning Group led a team to develop a Complete Streets Master Plan for New
The irony of working in New Britain did not escape her.
Britain’s downtown. The City wanted to create a more
But it was startling to find that the Landers, Frary & Clark
pedestrian-friendly, attractive, and livable environment,
manufacturing facilities were located within the Plan’s
and recognized the opportunity that the 2015 opening
study area near downtown. “Throughout the project, I just
of the $572 million CTfastrak Project - 9.4 miles of
kept thinking to myself that there must be a reason for all
dedicated busway corridor connecting New Britain and
this. It was all to ironic for happenstance.”
Hartford - presented. These days, Rush’s team is engaged in an on-call The Complete Streets Master Plan for Downtown New
engineering contract with New Britain, where they will be
Britain has become an award-winning project that
helping the City implement various tasks from the master
the City embraces. New Britain has already begun
implementing initial phases with great results. “This has been an urban planner’s dream project,” Rush said.
Standing near the former Landers, Frary & Clark factory, Rush holds Universal #E9410 circa 1920. By pushing the
While New Britain already had the fabric for a
ivory buttons on the base, the heart shaped baskets, which
livable environment - its walkable scale, great history,
hold the bread, pivot 180 degrees to toast each side.
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Why toasters? “The design, the engineering, the manufacturing - they are such an interesting window into that time.”
How many do you have? “Let’s just say somewhere north of 350 and leave it at that.”
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TOTHESKY “I always wanted to be part of a team that transforms the city’s skyline.” - John DiValentino, PE, LEED AP (pictured left)
Construction is underway on the new Comcast Innovation and Technology Center (CITC) at 1800 Arch Street in Center City Philadelphia. The new $1.2 billion, LEED Platinum glass and stainless steel tower is a bold design and headlines the unprecedented $4.7 billion of development in the works for Philadelphia. It’s also a major milestone for Urban’s growing Special Inspections practice. The 59-story, 1,121-foot tower is expected to be the tallest building in the United States outside of New York and Chicago. It will also gain recognition as being the largest private development project in the history of Pennsylvania. For Urban’s John DiValentino, PE, LEED AP, the project is the realization of a dream. “I always wanted to be part of a team that transforms the city’s skyline,” said DiValentino, who is overseeing a team of special inspectors, who will carefully monitor the project from its first foundation to its completion in 2017. His crew will be drawing upon Urban’s experience from working on major building projects like One World Trade Center in New York City, where Urban monitored construction on behalf of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Recently, DiValentino’s team oversaw one of the largest concrete pours in Philadelphia’s history. During a 12-hour period, 370 trucks delivered 3,700 cubic yards of concrete for the CITC’s 10-foot-thick, 15-millionpound foundation mat. Urban’s special inspectors oversaw the quality of the material stream and its placement. Prior to the pour, they were responsible for checking the overall conditions of the placement area. As a testament to his work-ethic, DiValentino was the first one there and
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The Curse of Billy Penn A “gentlemen’s agreement” once stated that Rendering of the new $1.2 billion LEED Platinum Comcast Innovation and Technology Center.
no building in Philadelphia could rise above the William Penn statue on top of City Hall. The agreement was broken in 1987 when One Liberty Place became the first building to do so, rising 397 feet above Penn’s hat. Until that time, Philadelphia sports teams had enjoyed an unprecedented string of successes. After One Liberty Place, however, a drought of championships followed. The City was “cursed” for breaking the agreement. In 2007, attempting to end the curse, workers attached a small figurine of William Penn to the top of the Comcast Center, Philadelphia’s tallest building at the time. What happened the following year? The Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series - the first title in the City since 1983, when the Sixers were NBA champs. It remains to be seen if workers will attempt the tactic again when topping out the CITC in 2017. But if Philadelphia’s sports teams have not won another championship by then, you can bet we’ll be seeing Billy Penn at the top once again.
the last to leave. A three-sport star
York City practice gained accreditation
Code® (IBC). More often than not, in
at Upper Moreland High School in
with the International Accreditation
the past, these tasks were delegated
Montgomery County, PA, he compares
Service™ (IAS™), a subsidiary of the
to the building contractor, not the
this work to grinding from the five-yard
International Code Council. Urban is one
project owner or registered design
line for a touchdown. “It takes teamwork,
of few firms that is accredited in over 30
professional as required by the IBC. “The
endurance, and sheer determination,”
special inspections categories in New
pace of construction is so great that if
York City. The firm is also poised to be
documentation is lost, material records
one of the first to gain accreditation in
not followed, it could go real wrong, real
fast,” said DiValentino. “Then it becomes
Selected by Liberty Property Trust, the joint developer with Comcast, in a competition involving multiple local and national firms, DiValentino was integral in positioning Urban to provide special inspections service. Urban has been ahead of the curve as recent changes in building ordinances in New York City and Philadelphia are requiring building owners to hire accredited special inspections agencies
a huge issue and you’re backtracking
“People who really know the science of engineering make accurate decisions that not only lead to a better constructed building, but also directly and positively affect the bottom line.”
the records you need for the permit, which could really delay the process.” The IAS is trying to raise the credibility of special inspections, which has largely been viewed as a commodity until now. “It’s great for the consulting industry,” said DiValentino. Now as more local governments are recognizing the importance of these
for their projects. Special inspections are conducted during the construction
The genesis of these new special
process to verify that work is being done
inspections requirements comes from
in accordance to approved plans and
Section 17 of the International Building
specifications. In 2012, Urban’s New
administratively and forensically to get
requirements, they will be calling for more appropriate oversight to ensure competent performance and completion of work as specified and approved. excellence / 38
How are tall buildings ranked? The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTUBH), a not-for-profit international organization located in Chicago, announces the title to “The World’s Tallest In Philadelphia, the Department of Licenses and Inspections has always enforced Special Inspections since they were incorporated into the IBC, but the program lacked structure. “There were no defined qualifications outside of those identified by the IBC
Building” and is considered an authority on the height of buildings. The CTUBH ranks the height of buildings in three different ways:
significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance to the top of
and the department assumed little responsibility in
the building, inclusive of spires, but excluding items such
ensuring adequate communication between the
as flagpoles and antennae.
contractor, design professional, and special inspector,” said Elizabeth Baldwin, PE, the Development Division Director for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of
other building users on a consistent basis.
opportunity for improvement was highlighted during in 2013. “We were reminded that the primary cause of structural failure was inadequate inspection and the
Highest occupied floor: Height to the floor level of the highest floor that is occupied by residents, workers, or
Licenses and Inspections. According to Baldwin, the an evaluation of the department for IAS accreditation
Height to architectural top: From the level of the lowest,
Height to tip: Height to the highest point of the building, including antennae, flagpoles, and technical equipment.
critical importance of a cohesive program,” she said. “We immediately took steps to improve the program.” As a result, by September 2015, the Department of Licenses and Inspections will require formal registration for both special inspections businesses, as well as the
One Liberty Place
individual special inspectors. “Our ultimate goal is the protection of public safety through the enforcement of sound construction practice,” Baldwin says. “Quality assurance of critical construction components by individuals with the necessary, specialized expertise is integral to the achievement of this goal.” According to DiValentino, “People who really know the science of engineering make accurate decisions that not only lead to a better constructed building, but also directly and positively affect the bottom line.” DiValentino hopes to bring this message to more building owners. “One day,” he said, “I’m going to walk down the street with my kids, proudly point to the skyline, and say ‘I had something to do with that’.”
For More INfoRmation on special inspections, Contact John DiValentino, PE, LEED AP 215.922.8080 email@example.com
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Comcast Innovation And Technology Center
excellence / 40
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FACE S OF For m u l at i n g exc el l en c e®
ADAM OSTINOWSKY CONSTRUCTION ENGINEER In addition to being a strong supporter of all
his work on the PennDOT contract, Adam is
Pittsburgh professional sports teams, Adam
conducting schedule update reviews on the
Ostinowsky, a construction manager working
American Parkway Project, which will connect
out of Urban’s Mechanicsburg, PA office, is
the east side of Allentown with the downtown
always striving to be a strong advocate on
area across the Lehigh River. He also recently
behalf of the firm’s clients. Having worked for
finished helping oversee the demolition of the
more than six years on the contracting side of
old terminal building at Harrisburg International
the industry, Adam is well suited to find common
Airport, which has created room for new
ground between a client and local stakeholders
to ensure everyone’s needs are achieved. In turn, joining the Urban family has allowed his
Adam is proud of the number of connections
personal needs to be met. “Urban has allowed
he has made and maintained during his career,
me to have the work-life balance I wanted,”
including the full-range of industry professionals,
Adam said. After traveling a lot in his previous
from the laborers, carpenters, and operators,
position, the stability of commuting to one office
to the designer/contractor firm presidents and
most days was appealing to him. “I am able to
project owners. “I have learned it’s important
have a wife and two kids who I get to see and
to respect each role and individual involved in
spend time with everyday.”
a project and have learned many lessons from those who perform at each level,” Adam said.
Adam enjoys the opportunity to interact with
“Respecting everyone involved in a project has
a variety of people on a daily basis. Having
earned me respect and has opened opportunities
been a part of Urban’s Open-End Construction
up to me.”
Management Agreement with PennDOT, District 8-0, for the past four years, no day for him
Originally from a small western Pennsylvania
is typical. Assignments vary and he may find
town called Twin Rocks, Adam is a graduate
himself chairing a stakeholder meeting one
of the University of Pittsburgh where he earned
day and writing letters and reviewing project
a degree in civil engineering. He bleeds black
schedules the next. He finds it rewarding to be
and gold, and watches the Pirates, Steelers, and
able to make a difference on numerous projects
Penguins any time he can.
of varying scopes. For instance, in addition to
To see more Faces of Formulating Excellence, click here.
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Modernizing THE TURNPIKE Newly constructed lanes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike recognized with an ACEC/PA Diamond Award. Urban designed the widening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Montgomery County, from two travel lanes in each direction, to three travel lanes in each direction, between the Mid-County Interchange (Exit #20) and the east/west Turnpike mainline north to Milepost A26 (Berks Road.) The project is part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissionâ€™s $2 billion statewide total reconstruction initiative, which entails rebuilding sections of the 70-plus-year-old Turnpike. The new roadway design meets current interstate design standards, and will provide a safer and more-efficient travel experience for Turnpike customers. It will also accommodate the growing number of vehicles on the roadway. Traffic volumes, currently estimated at 67,000 vehicles/day on this section of the Turnpike, are projected to reach 100,000 vehicles/day by the year 2030.
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One of the nationâ€™s oldest limited-access highways, the Turnpike right-of-way (ROW) was largely established in the 1940s and 1950s. The challenge of incorporating 21st century highway and stormwater management designs into a limited ROW and minimizing the impacts to adjacent residential and commercial properties was a key controlling aspect in the design. In addition to the roadway, many other elements of sound engineering practices had to fit within the limited available â€œbandwidth.â€? These included, but were not limited to, the embankment or cut slopes needed to support and accommodate the roadway widening, as well as permanent roadway drainage features, stormwater management facilities, and erosion and sedimentation features to control surface water runoff and minimize the sediments and pollutants leaving the project site. To limit land acquisition, retaining walls were designed to contain the fills and cuts to the extent possible. Urban worked closely with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, state and local officials, the Montgomery County Conservation District, local townships, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to develop the overall roadway and stormwater management system and details to satisfy the requirements for controlling surface water runoff from the site during and after construction while minimizing impacts to residents. This coordination effort was critical in allowing the project to move forward.
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The Widened Turnpike has Key Social-Economic, and Sustainable Design Features, Including: -S afer and more-efficient traveling for motorists -S afer acceleration/deceleration lanes at the Mid-County Interchange (Exit A20) -C losed circuit television cameras that provide incident management and faster response times -R educed ROW acquisition that allows for adjacent property development -S oundwalls for adjacent property owners -A esthetically pleasing textures on structures and soundwalls -N aturalized stormwater basins that beautify the area and requires less frequent maintenance than traditional basins
“Opening the southern section of the Turnpike’s total reconstruction and widening project between Mid-County and the Lansdale interchanges, marks a significant milestone in our effort to enhance travel and safety on this heavily traveled corridor of the Northeastern Extension in Montgomery County,” - Turnpike CEO, Mark Compton
Urban had previously prepared the Feasibility Study for the MP A20 – MP A30 Corridor. Construction of the $191 million southern portion of this corridor was funded entirely by toll dollars and opened in October 2014. The northern half of the full-depth reconstruction and widening project between Mileposts A25.6 and A31.3, including, but not limited to, replacing two overhead bridges and constructing three auxiliary ramps in the vicinity of the Lansdale Interchange, has been in construction since May 2014. Two travel lanes will remain open in each direction for the duration of
the project, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016. For more information on the six-lane expansion of the Northeast Extension, visit www.paturnpike.com/ constructionprojects/mpA20toA31.
For more information, contact: Michael G. Leinheiser, PE 215.922.8080 firstname.lastname@example.org
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bienvenue, Al Pizzi Cost Estimator extraordinare returns from France after working on the world’s largest scientific project.
tell us about your work in france?
What was your most memorable experience?
My job was lead cost estimator at the International
Since we had eight weeks vacation each year, my wife and I
Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor – ITER. The ITER brings
were able to drive our little Citroen all over Europe. The most
together India, China, South Korea, USA, Japan, Russia,
memorable was the visit to my grandparent’s village in the
and the European Union as scientists to see if they can jointly
Abruzzo region of Italy. Virtually everyone in the town was my
harness the power of the sun in a nuclear reactor weighing
cousin. They fed us well.
about 23,000 tons – as much as three Eiffel Towers.
That sounds amazing. Where does the ITER project stand now?
How long were you at Urban prior to moving? I was at Urban for six years before France. However, I worked with Urban from the contractor side for more than 20 years
It is expected to have start up, called “first plasma,” by about
before that, starting with the Center City Commuter Tunnel/
2023. They are around 40% complete. The unique thing about
Market East Station Project in the 1980s.
the project is that the components of the reactor are being fabricated in each of the participating nations, and then shipped
What projects are you working on now at Urban?
to France for assembly on site. Some components have been
I’m providing cost estimates for all of Urban’s design projects,
fabricated in Camden, NJ at the Joseph Oat Corporation.
and doing the cost work for Urban’s Project Management
What was the most significant lesson learned on the ITER project? The importance of good project controls – cost, schedule, scope, and risk. The more complex the project, the more important project controls are in getting it built. 47 / urbanengineers.com
Oversight Consultant efforts for the Federal Transit Administration.
clients + people + projects
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