July 27, 2023

🏗️ About that crane accident…

These homes would likely not pass inspections (Source: Warner Bros.)

Hey there,

You've likely already seen the videos all over LinkedIn and Instagram, but we should talk about the crane accident that happened earlier this week in New York:

No, this isn't a behind-the-scenes from a Tobey Maguire-era Spider-Man movie. It was a 45-story-high crane that caught fire and fell on 10th Avenue in New York City at 7:30am as everyone was making their way to work. Luckily there were zero casualties.

The crane was owned and operated by the New York City Crane and Equipment Corp., which was founded by the late James Lomma, the self-titled "King of Cranes." Lomma and his company made headlines in 2008 when two crane accidents killed 9 people in the span of two months. His whole story is pretty sad and shady, and actually reads like he's a low-level local mob boss that Spider-Man would probably embarrass by webbing him between two buildings.

This OSHA nightmare makes us wonder why Monadnock Construction Inc., the GC on the job, decided to hire a crane company with such a sordid history (or even how such a company still exists). Perhaps more clarity on what went on behind the scenes will come from this story in the coming weeks.


🏗️ Megaproject Milestone round up…

Construction Dive published an article about Vegas’s newest attraction, the MSG Sphere by MSG Entertainment, which nearly doubled in construction costs due to “inflation and supply chain woes” from $1.2 billion to a staggering $2.3 billion. The massive sphere is 516 feet wide and 366 feet tall, capable of holding 17,600 spectators with standing space for an additional 20,000. That’s not even the most impressive feature; the exosphere is lined with 1.2 million LED “pucks” that span 580,000 square feet, capable of displaying anything from dynamic geometric patterns to ultra-realistic renditions of the earth and moon. But it doesn’t stop there. Each of those 1.2 million pucks holds 48 LED diodes—and each of those diodes can display over 250 different colors. Get ready for some mind-bending concerts. And also a weird eyeball that is freaking people out...

There's a highlight reel of other major projects since the end of January, with the most recent including Skanska and AECOM’s $395 million Penn Station upgrade, Balfour Beatty’s $1.78 billion California water plant, and Brightline’s impressive $5B high-speed rail extension in Orlando. Here are some other notable big ticket projects that wrapped up over the past several months:

  • Hensel Phelps started construction of a new surgery wing in the National Institutes of Health’s research hospital, totaling 82,150 square feet and $630 million

  • Balfour Beatty’s $698 million project for the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and National Security Agency in Maryland, which includes an 854,000-square-foot building and a parking structure with over 3,000 spaces 

  • Amazon’s $2.5 billion second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, which has finished its first phase and is now open to the public 

  • Intel’s insane $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Ohio, their biggest construction project to date

🔨 Here's the Thing

These massive, jaw-dropping projects hold two common threads: they’re ambitious, and they’re reflective of both challenges and opportunities seen across the industry. The ambition is clear in the price tags and sheer square footage. As for challenges and opportunities, while some of these projects have suffered due to inflation and supply chain hiccups, others are rising to the surface thanks to recent demands such as local semiconductor manufacturing and high-speed rail systems. Intel got especially smart with the double dipping, capitalizing on semiconductor bottlenecks with a local plant, while the MSG Sphere finished up construction despite a daunting doubling in price. Then again, it’s Vegas, and Sin City puts no price on entertainment.

⚡️ Punch List

Procore: Why a pile of point solutions is no solution at all (blog)

Buildr: Sign up for a year of Buildr by September 1st to score free Groundbreak tickets (limited time offer)

Construction Dive: Contractors still don’t have OSHA heat protections despite widespread heat waves (news)

Construction Executive: This women-owned landscaping business is redefining construction workwear (blog)

For Construction Pros: How improved customer relations is the key to boosted income (blog)

Top Luxury: India’s most impressive megaprojects in 2023 (video)


We're losing the word

We're losing the word "tweets" from our daily vernacular.

Can't spell Lisa without AI: The future of AI news anchors is already here, as India launched Lisa—a not-real person who will never call in sick, need a touch-up, or most ominously... age.

X marks the spot: In another startling move, Elon Musk rebrands Twitter to simply "X," risking billions in brand value, according to some estimates. If you're concerned that this was a hasty decision, don't forget Musk already piloted the letter X twice in 2020 with his child, X Æ A-Xii.

Hot hot heat: Ever wonder how people's homes pre-air conditioning (you know, very nearly the entirety of human existence) were able to refrain from being gross, sweaty, hot boxes? One word: skywells.

Subversive: Subway's new promotion nets you free subs for life if you change your first name to "Subway." Expect more companies to follow suit and many of us to start changing our names. You'll soon be having a Super Bowl party with your friends Jack in the Box, Arby's, Taco Bell, and George where you guys all make fun of George for not bringing anything from an infinite stream of already-paid-for food.

4D: Tom Cruise took advantage of being Tom Cruise and decided to pop into theater showings of the new Mission Impossible in Florida and Georgia, mostly to make people freak out. His face was probably almost as realistic as it would be in IMAX.

Sportsball: This 10 most influential personalities in sports media list forgot Scott Van Pelt but it's okay because #1 is deservedly rewarded. Speaking of sportsball, Shohei Ohtani had perhaps the best day of baseball anyone has ever had yesterday. At what point can we assume Ohtani is AI? Has anyone actually seen him in person? Please reply to this email.

Doggone fun: Start viciously circling August 5th on your calendars: dog surfing championships are coming. Dogs can be trained to do literally anything. You haven't lived until you've seen one of the little dogs stand and/or dance on its owners' feet as the owner does a handstand on a giant ball during an NBA halftime show.

Phenomenal: Highlights from the alien hearing this week in Congress. We're slotting this in and barely speaking on it as an analogy for how society has generally reacted to this news: very nonchalantly.

Oppy-ulence: "Barbenheimer is stimulating the economy," isn't a news headline we predicted for this year, but here we are. Barbie and Oppenheimer raked in a ton of cash (and continue to do so) not just in ticket sales but in tangentially-related clothing and entertainment shopping. Pink outfits and crooner hat sales are up 5 million percent. Both films are cautionary tales about what happens when men are ineffective at communicating their feelings.

Rocket power: The best skateboarders on the planet are 10 and 13-year-old girls, respectively. Reese Nelson made history as the youngest X Games medalist.

Job Site

Louisiana-based Ryan Gootee General Contractors is looking for a Project Estimator in the New Orleans, LA area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Virginia-based Martin Horn is looking for a Senior Preconstruction Manager/Estimator in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Florida-based WPC is looking for an Estimator in the Orlando, FL area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Utah-based Mint Construction is looking for a Senior Estimator in the Salt Lake City area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Catch wind of an open preconstruction role? Fill out our job post submission form for a chance for the posting to be featured in a future edition of The SLAB.

See you next time, The SLAB

PS: Just a reminder: if you sign for a year of Buildr by September 1st, we'll provide you 2 tickets ($4,000 in value) to Procore Groundbreak taking place September 19-20 in Chicago. Must be a general contractor based in the United States or Canada. We hope to meet you in-person there! We can already smell the Lou Malnati's.

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