During the 20th century, two urban paradigms emerged: 1) the low-density urban sprawl paradigm (Southern California), and 2) the high-density ground-accessed-skyscrapers (GAS) paradigm (New York, Hong Kong). Throughout the world, people are migrating to "megacities", and a better high-density paradigm is needed. Problems with the GAS paradigm include: 1) transportation congestion particularly at the street level, 2) limited escape routes from skyscrapers as witnessed on 9/11, 3) cramped and noisy living conditions, and 4) waste of energy (GAS) . Realize that 48% of the energy consumed on our planet is used to heat and cool buildings -- more than is consumed in all forms of transportation. Consider the excessive amount of exposed surface area in a cluster of tall slender skyscrapers -- perhaps the least energy efficient configuration imaginable! Visionary arcologists (architect/ecologist) have proposed the hyperstructure paradigm for the 21st century. A hyperstructure is an enormous high-density habitat -- a city within a structure if you will -- characterized by: 1) fully three-dimensional transportation network, 2) efficient pyramidal structural forms, 3) enclosed controllable micro-climates, 4) solar/geothermal/wind energy harvesting mechanisms, 5) water recycling mechanisms, and 6) quiet open spaces. Hyperstructures with up to a million inhabitants have been proposed for Tokyo, Moscow, and Dubai. In Beijing, the remarkable Parkview Green and Linked Hybrid hyperstructures-in-embryo have been recently constructed. Large-scale hyperstructures have only been conceptually proposed. Engineering research is needed to determine if we can really build them, and if the people will come. Structural, transportation, hydrological, geotechnical, and mechanical engineering must be involved as well as architecture and urban psychology. Synergistically designing a city all-at-once is a unique opportunity to simultaneously optimize benefit to people, planet, and profit -- the triple bottom line. Contrast this 21st century process with the sequential, profit-driven evolution of cities in the 20th century. It's time literally think outside the box for both the paradigm and the process of urban design.

Faculty Involved

Dr. Grant Schultz
Dr. Paul Richards
Dr. Rollin Hotchkiss
Dr. Kyle Rollins
Dr. Matt Jones (Mechanical Engineering)

High Performance Buildings

Buildings are designed to resist earthquakes, the way that cars are designed to resist head-on collisions. Engineers rely on ductility and controlled inelastic deformation of certain parts of the structure to protect the lives of the occupants. The controlled inelastic deformation translates to permanent structural damage, so after a severe earthquake most buildings will require repair or replacement. High performance buildings are those that will not require repair or replacements. Analytical research is underway to investigate economical ways to limit permanent inelastic deformations in steel buildings through the use of cantilevered gravity columns and high-yield-drift moment resisting frames.

Faculty Involved

Dr. Paul Richards


UAV Infrastructure Monitoring

America’s infrastructure, specifically dams and levees, are aging and rapidly deteriorating. In 2009 the American Society of Civil Engineers assigned grades of D and D- to Dams and levees in a generalized assessment of America’s infrastructure. This leaves river cities, freshwater supplies, and inland waterways vulnerable, and in affect leaves all of us vulnerable as we all depend on these structures. Current methods of infrastructure monitoring and surveillance are both laborious and expensive causing us to take more of a passive “fix what breaks” stance when what we need, as the grades mentioned above indicate, is a proactive stance in monitoring our infrastructure. With recent technology being developed that allows a person to take 2D images and build a 3D point cloud model, and then analyze the model for possible weaknesses and irregularities in the structure we can make this surveillance more effective. The image capture and surveillance can be performed by utilizing recent advances in autonomous aerial and ground robots allowing for cheaper more efficient monitoring and management of these important structures. This will allow for a greater number of dams and levees to be systematically and routinely monitored, monitoring the structure more efficiently and quickly, and to be able to operate at a lower cost.

Faculty Involved

Dr. Kevin Franke
Dr. Hedengren (Chem. Eng.)
Dr. Mclane (Magicc Lab)

Student Involved

Colter Lund