If China can build a skyscraper in 19 days, why can't the United States do that as well?
Matthew Lohden, 30+ years working in the design and construction of buildings.
A US company once built a house in 8 hours.
US teams could build a skyscraper in the same fashion as the Chinese one given good enough reason. The reality though is that the building wasn't built in that time. It was only erected. There is also all the time spent preparing and assembling all the components so that the erection could be so quick. There are certainly advantages to modular construction but there are also trade offs which make it unsuitable in many cases and of limited use in others.
The Chinese are still developing their infrastructure and it makes sense to explore ways to do it faster and with economies of scale. In the US our problems are more about repairing, updating, and reorganizing an otherwise pretty fully developed built environment. The applications for such full on modularization are much more limited here.
Jerry To, lives in Hong Kong
The US COULD do that, if they invest into the prefab technologies and manufacturing facilities as much as the company behind this skyscraper did.
The US just didn't do it, because there's no need to erect skyscrapers in 19 days.
In fact, China didn't need to erect skyscrapers in 19 days either. The vast majority of China's buildings were not completed this way.
Even for this particular project, they still didn't HAVE to complete it in 19 days. I'm sure they can save a bit more construction cost by having a more relaxed schedule.
Then why did they do it? Because if they took their time and spent a couple months building this, you most likely would not have heard about it from WSJ (although the speed would still be impressive).
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The company, Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), did this as a public stunt to promote what they called "sustainable building technologies". They were also behind several other "rush construction" projects such as a 30-floor hotel in 15 days and a 15-floor hotel in less than a week. Their goal was to eventually build a 200+ stories super-skyscraper using similar technologies. That thing, if built, will be slightly taller than the Burj Khalifa.
It's also worth noting that, although construction speed was the single most eye-grabbing element in news like these, it was not BSB's main selling point. Like I've mentioned earlier, people rarely NEED to have skyscrapers built in a few weeks, not even in China. BSB's main selling point was actually energy conservation, emission reduction, superior interior air quality, and reducing building cost.
Benjamin Okopnik, Endlessly curious polymath
I agree with much of what has been written, but I also note a certain attitude in some of the answers that's worth addressing: some people seem to be trying to justify, rather than simply compare. And that adds a nasty little edge to the discussion that doesn't really need to be there.
If someone in the the US had done this, we'd be trumpeting it all over the world, and damn well strutting with pride. That's what we did with the Empire State building, and to some degree with all our major achievements. "We did it; we are #1." Rightly so, because the winner deserves the pride of achievement - and knocking that is mighty small of anyone who chooses to do so. China is to be congratulated on having done this, and there are lessons to be learned from it - even if it doesn't need to be exactly emulated.
I see a lot of things going on in this video.
Is the building complete, or is only the core and shell simply completed? Either way it is an impressive feat, but they are not the same thing.
1.There is clearly major offsite prefabrication going on, which presumably started long before the 19 day counter started ticking. In the US, there is also work done in advance of construction but not to this scale. There is nothing wrong with prefabrication, but it is little disingenuous to look only at the time spent on site if there were perhaps weeks or months spent working in large scale factories off site.
2.From the video, it appears that the building is being built in a low density area, which makes sense for China, which has massive growth and need for new development. In the US, most skyscrapers are built in areas of existing high density, making the shipping, staging and placement of these massive pre fabricated constructions potentially impractical or impossible.
3.The building uses 7 simultaneous tower cranes. That is a massive investment of resources and unheard of in the US(buildings typically have 1 crane). I don't believe the US has ever found it necessary to provide construction this fast. Like many things, if you throw enough resources at them, you can do them faster, but you may lose efficiency. This is a matter of priorities.
Sumanth Reddy, Expertise in construction defect investigation, litigation support and safety
The count 19 days in inaccurate. I strongly believe the time of construction should include the time spent in prefabrication of elements.
Like others pointed out here, a lot of heavy equipment was used on site. This is because apparently the site was in a location where clogging the routes to the site was about to cost a lot more than deploying the machinery (I'll edit the answer with reference once I find it again)
Also, the operation of the crane could be difficult (is a single crane was deployed - from what you can see in the video - it had to move a lot) and perhaps the cost of using it for more number of days exceeded this option.
It always comes down to the economics. If these conditions exist, I believe US or any country for that matter would opt for such a choice and could make it possible.
There are some doubts raised by people about the quality of construction. I read a report where it was cited that the building was extremely well designed and was capable to satisfy the demands of the structure in a 8.0 magnitude earthquake. There is no need to doubt the structural integrity since workforce is not uncommon in China and so even though the time spent is less, the total number of hours put is quite large.
Ed Caruthers, Retired physicist and technology developer, age 72
To build on an answer by Anonymous, the US has lots of building codes and regulations. Most were created in the name of safety. Some may be obsolete. I don't know if the current codes would allow all the methods used in the 19 day construction. I can't tell from the video. Maybe some of the methods would actually be unsafe to use, or would build an insufficiently safe building. There have been news stories in the US about earthquakes revealing fraudulent building practices in some parts of China.
The first possible problem that comes to mind is the time for concrete to cure. I don't know the spec's. But if pouring and curing of the foundation was part of the 19 days, you might want to look that up.
The US does not generally prohibit construction using prefab components. For the Hemisfair in my hometown of San Antonio, Texas, way back in 1968, the Hilton Palacio del Rio Hotel was constructed using rooms constructed on the ground and then placed into the hotel frame by cranes. I heard at the time that an invention was required, something like an airplane's tail section, to enable precise movement of the rooms through space, to the right position with the right orientation. The method did yield a hotel ready for use in what was then record time.
Nicolaas Manoppo, MSE Civil Engineering & Geotechnical Engineering, University of Michigan (1987)
Obviously this is a hoax. A 100 storey skyscraper completed in just 19 days?? Bua ha ha ha ha …..
This makes me wonder. Why such question like this can get through Quora?
- No problemo. I just post a saga below.
There is a populer saga from Java. Thousands years ago, supposedly there was once a mighty knight named Bandung Bondowoso, who managed to build 999 out of one thousand temples in just one night. He was short one more temple when suddenly the roosters were crowing to mark the arrival of the morning. Bandung Bondowoso hence failed to fullfil his promise to build one thousand temples in one night, and hence he could not marry the beautiful princess Rara Jonggrang. The princess had ordered her people to make loud noises to awake the roosters before the dawn came.
There. You see, Bandung Bondowoso is far superior than those China’s contractors
Peter Evans-Greenwood, Fellow, Centre for the Edge at Deloitte (2012-present)
The Chinese firm – Broad Sustainable Building – uses a “design for manufacture and assembly” (DFMA) process rather than a traditional craft-driven building process. DFMA processes are ~30% faster, even when you allow the the lead time for the manufacturing component of the work. You should add a few weeks onto that 19 days to get total time, but that would still be a very quick build.
Most of this time saving comes from moving labour from the uncontrolled environment of the construction site to the controlled environment of the factory, so there’s no rain delays etc., and there is less work and less workers on-site so it’s easier to optimise vertical transport (which is a choke-point on high-rise builds). Typically you can install a new floor on-site in ~4 fours, at which point the new floor is watertight, and the trades can go through to finish the interior. There’s also no live edges so its also a safer work site. (One nice statistic is that there have not been any deaths in high-rise DFMA builds in Australia to date.)
Nick White, Trade, Quantity Surveying and Construction Management professional.
China has laid down the gauntlet and shown off what's possible with prefabricated construction methods.
Some questions remain unanswered from the video such as build quality (is everything plumb, level and watertight?), fire compartmentalism (will a fire on level 2 be contained to level 2?) and worksite safety (how many workers were injured in that great rush?).
A US construction company is likely to adopt the construction method for the purpose of improving worksite safety and program length and hence money.
Why would we want to?
Do we really need another skyscraper.
Our building regulations are far more strict. A good thing.
I believe when they pour an entire floor of a building they must do it to precise timing. Off by a period of minutes need to chip the entire floor up, for safety, and likely for strength and due to qualities of mix in high rise structures. We do not need to build public housing 1960 structures, which we spent tax dollars tearing down in late 1990’s, now, or ever in future. We will still be building single family homes within the metropolis 100 hundred years hence, with plenty of room for the following century, and this within the metropolis.
Ken Carson, Civil/Geotechnical Engineer
The United States does not build sky scrapers. Developers choose to build what they believe will be profitable with considerations of revenue, liability, and a host of other factors.
Engineering and construction are not Olympic events. They are business ventures. To frame this as some sort of US vs China contest is totally pointless.
Where exactly would 20 such buildings be built in San Francisco? The city is nearly built out. If the profit margins were there, developers would be building them today. Also, if there is more housing the prices will drop and your landlord wouldn't be able to suck all your money out of your bank account any more. As far as the question about incompetence, that doesn't even deserve to be addressed.
US built the Liberty ships in less than 2 weeks during WWII, or even less for some of the ships under friendly competition. It was surprising to hear. The question here is when does the construction starts officially - making the first cut to make the modules, digging the first hole, or joining the first module, etc..
The construction in reference to was built in modules. Practically, the construction has started offsite way ahead of time. So, it is not about “if, can”, it’s more about “if, want to” if some builders would like to build the same way here in US. Nothing to do about those “soft variables”.
Money, we wont do that here, though in many instances could, construction in the USA is greatly controlled by special interest groups and politics.
In addition, we utilize bidding processes to determine who and what construction companies can build what, and how they build also.
Unions also factor into the processes and costs to build. The longer the process, the more money made by tradesmen, and laborers... Again, money, how much money there is to be made, longer it takes, more money made by everyone involved. Just my point of view here-I don't know jack isht really!
Bernd Hoffmann, Owner (1986-present)
It’s not nations that build houses, it’s companies.
You can try to make a race out of everything that you know, but is this sane?
If you are looking for Quality, especially if large amounts of money and many existences are involved, you should better take your time and handle those issues seriously.
Building skyscrapers is not the right topic for game shows!
Ron Larson, lives in The United States of America (1963-present)
Ask the parents of all of those dead Chinese children who died when all of their schools collapsed in an earthquake a few years ago. I'm sure they were proud of how quickly those buildings went up.
I work in software development. We have a saying. You can have quality, speed, or cheap. Choose two. The same truth goes for building structures.
Tim Virio, Industrial Operator (2004-present)
A better question is “Would anyone in the United States want to work/live in a skyscraper built in 19 days?”.
Seriously, why is speed of construction somehow desireable? Think about it long and hard…..do you think that any corners were cut in a building erected in 19 days?
If I proudly proclaimed that I could completely assemble a carnival ride in 3 minutes….. when it takes s lot of people an entire day…… would you get on that ride first?
Joshua Field, Bachelor in Political Science (Asian international relationships is my forte)
Because the Chinese pay per building built:
-You work for me on this part of the building, when it’s finished you get 10000$
The American pay per hour
-You work for me for one hour, you get 10$
Now you can easily see why the Chinese are much more eager to finish their project and go find themself another building to build.
Michael Sullivan, Inquisitive Soul & proud Masshole Liberal (1956-present)
My wife went to China in 2018 for an art convention. She was a featured artist and feted by the local authorities who showed her all around their new city. She was appalled by the poor quality of the construction wherever she went.
I for one would not step foot in a skyscraper built in 19 days.
- Tov Drian, former CEO at Cars and Automobiles
Planning and prepping should be summed up. Obviously, they had to plan the logistics and the blueprints out before even assembling the pieces. With all that done, it is of course quicker to erect it.