FLOOR BY FLOOR
Aiming a wrecking ball at a 460-foot
(140-meter) hotel in a dense downtown
area poses all sorts of problems. So the
project team at Tokyo, Japan-based Taisei
Corporation decided instead to raze the
the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka internally, one floor at a time.
To deconstruct the tallest skyscraper
to be demolished in Japan, crews cut
each of the 40 floors into concrete
chunks and sent them to the ground via
interior cranes. The top floor, which was
separated from the rest of the building,
is held aloft by temporary internal columns and serves as an adjustable roof
that is lowered by jacks as the upper
floors are removed.
The solution eliminates the need
for external scaffolding, reduces dust
by 90 percent, improves worker safety
and eliminates weather-related project
delays. The cranes also use the weight
of their loads to generate electricity
that runs the construction site’s lights
With dozens of skyscrapers nearing demolition age in Japan in the
next decade, this innovative—and
eco-friendly—method has garnered
“It’s kind of like having a disassembly
factory on top of the building and putting a big hat there, and then the building shrinks,” Hideki Ichihara, a Taisei
executive, told The Japan Times.
transport at the University of Sydney Business School, Sydney, Australia. “The states
would argue that they don’t have the funds,” she says. “Public transport projects,
in particular, don’t fare well in the evaluation process, which makes it difficult to
achieve Treasury agreement.”
Such is the issue with the East-West Link, an 18-kilometer (11-mile) road devel-
oped to connect two major Melbourne highways and relieve traffic congestion. It
has yet to break ground, despite the state of Victoria identifying it as a crucial proj-
ect in 2008.
“We want to do all the work that is necessary to make sure that we get a competitive bid…and take as much risk out of the project as is possible,” Terry Mulder, Victoria’s roads minister, told The Herald Sun to explain the delay.
While these projects lag, construction companies flounder. Over the past two years,
work by big contractors on government projects has fallen by AUD1.5 billion, or 37 percent, according to The Age. The state’s largest construction companies have already laid off
more than 5,000 workers as the area’s project pipeline runs dry.
Construction firms are now calling on the government to accelerate funding to big-ticket projects—none of which are slated to begin before 2014. Without these initiatives,
the industry will struggle to recover, John Wilson, Engineers Australia’s Victoria spokesman, told The Age. “The major projects have been slowly drying up, and there is nothing
to replace them,” he said. ‘’We are at a critical time where the skills we have procured
here in Victoria are migrating to other places, and they won’t necessarily come back.”
Tokyo’s Grand Prince
Hotel Akasaka in
January (left) and
PHO TO B Y © NA TSUKI SAKAI/AFLO/NIPPON NEWS/CORBIS
FREELANCE FOR HIRE
In the not-so-distant future, the majority of employees may be freelancers, consultants
and independent workers. The ranks of the unaffiliated are growing around the world,
no longer limited to creative careers such as writing or graphic design.
A recent report by business-services
firm MBO Partners showed that half of
the U.S. workforce may be made up of
independent workers by 2020. There are
currently more than 16 million independent workers in the country—a number
the report expects to reach 70 million in
the next decade.
For most workers, whether they
become freelance by choice or because
of a down economy, the transition isn’t
short-term: Only 13 percent of independent workers plan to return to a staff
position in the next two years, according to the MBO survey.
Rachel Phillips, PMP, a project
manager and digital strategist based in
New York, New York, USA, exemplifies this accelerating trend. After losing her full-time job five years ago, she
began freelancing while still hoping to