Crazy Leaning Towers
On March 21, 2023 an elevator repair led to shaking the entire One Vanderbilt tower, leading workers to flee the building. But that isn’t the only building with problems.
One Millennium Tower in San Francisco is leaning due to its foundation settling unevenly. The building is located in an area with soft soils, and it was built on a foundation that was only drilled down 60 feet, which is much shallower than what is typical for tall buildings.
The foundation is supported by piles that were driven into the ground, but these piles only penetrated the dense soil layer and did not extend into the bedrock. As a result, the soft soils beneath the building are compressing unevenly, causing the building to lean.
Additionally, there is a significant amount of groundwater in the area, which is also contributing to the uneven settling of the foundation. The weight of the building is causing the soil to compact and shift, leading to the lean.
Efforts to correct the lean have included installing 52 steel piles to support the foundation, which has helped slow the rate of the building’s tilt. However, it is unlikely that the building will ever be fully straightened, and ongoing monitoring and maintenance will be necessary to ensure the safety of the building and its occupants.
On March 28, 2000, a powerful tornado hit downtown Fort Worth, Texas, causing extensive damage to buildings in the area, including the Bank One Tower, which was one of the tallest buildings in the city at the time.
The tornado caused significant damage to the Bank One Tower, breaking numerous windows and causing the building to sway back and forth. The storm also caused water damage to the building’s electrical systems, resulting in a loss of power and leaving the building without functioning elevators.
After the storm, the Bank One Tower was closed for several weeks for repairs, during which time workers replaced more than 600 windows, repaired damaged sections of the building’s exterior, and replaced the electrical systems. Despite the extensive damage, the building’s structural integrity was not compromised, and it was able to reopen for business within a few weeks.
The Torre de David, also known as the “Tower of David,” is a skyscraper located in Caracas, Venezuela that began construction in the early 1990s as a financial center, but was never completed. In 1994, the building was taken over by squatters who started living in the unfinished tower. The squatters completed some of the building’s construction, adding utilities, plumbing, and other amenities to make the building habitable.
Over the years, the Tower of David became a symbol of the country’s economic and political instability, and it was depicted in the television show “Homeland” as a terrorist hideout. Despite being an informal settlement, the building developed a community with shops, restaurants, and other services that catered to the residents.
In 2014, the Venezuelan government launched an operation to evacuate the residents and secure the building due to safety concerns, citing the lack of proper building permits, inadequate electrical systems, and structural problems. The evacuation was carried out peacefully, and most of the residents were relocated to government-provided housing.
Since then, the building has remained abandoned, and its future remains uncertain. There have been proposals to repurpose the building, including turning it into a cultural center, but no concrete plans have been made. The Tower of David remains a unique example of urban squatting and alternative housing in an unstable economic and political context.
One large abandoned building is the Michigan Central Station in Detroit, Michigan, USA. The building was completed in 1913 and served as a train station for several decades before falling into disuse and abandonment in the mid-20th century. The building is 18 stories tall and covers an area of over 600,000 square feet, making it one of the largest abandoned buildings in the United States.