Saturday, August 6, 2016
The Leaning Tower of Frisco
The Leaning Tower of Frisco San Francisco has many distinguished and famous buildings. The City Hall dome towers 43’ over the Capitol’s. President Warren G. Harding died in Room 8064 of the (Sheraton) Palace Hotel on August 2, 1923. The United Nations was founded in San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House on April 25, 1945. There’s the Palace of Fine Arts, the Palace of the Legion of Honor and the Painted Ladies by Alamo Square. The Ferry Building is a classic – much nicer since the Greyhound Busses pulled out decades ago. The City boosts of the iconic Transamerica Pyramid. The beautiful Golden Gate Bridge is associated with The City by the Bay. Now comes a new entry onto the list: The Leaning Tower of Frisco. I grew up in San Francisco. I know you’re not supposed to call it Frisco, but what do you want? “The Leaning Tower of Bagdad by the Bay”? “The Leaning Tower of SOMA”? “The Leaning Tower of South of the Slot”? “The Leaning Tower of 301 Mission Street?” “The Billion Dollar Leaning Tower?” “The Leaning Tower of Broken Glass?” (Not yet, but when the Big One comes) “The Leaning Tower Which Makes Lawyers Rich?” “The Leaning Tower Which is Daring Liquefaction?” “The Sinking Tower of San Francisco?” The Leaning Tower of Frisco is technically the Millennium Tower, a 60 story. 645’ high residential building offering 419 condominiums, which were running between $1.6 million and $10 million. The Millennium Tower is sinking and leaning on fill. Start at the Ferry Building and either walk up Market Street or California Street until you reach Montgomery. You have walked on loose fill. San Francisco Bay went up to Montgomery Street until the 49ers came (the real 49ers, not the expatriate football team). The 49ers disembarked from their sailing ships as soon as they reached San Francisco heading for the gold. They were almost instantly followed by the ships’ crews. About the only thing to do with the abandoned ships was to sink them in the Bay, creating San Francisco’s downtown. It’s all fill with a high risk of liquefaction. The concrete and glass colossus is built on concrete slabs and piles which go down 80.’ That’s 120’ short of bedrock. That’s 120’ of sand and wooden ships. It saved money – then – not now. The construction crews encountered mud holes during construction. Their solution was to pour cement and gravel into the mud holes. That seems to have been as effective as the builders of the ill-fated Teton Dam in Idaho 4 decades ago. They kept finding major cracks in the in the rock formations, the foundation for the dam. Their failed response was to pour a seemingly infinite amount of grout into the cracks. Watch the Millennium Tower go slip-sliding away, down to sea level. In the meantime, It’s sinking, just like the New Orleans levee system built on loose soil. Buildings that massive can cause subsidence. The building’s developers estimated a 6’ subsidence over the building’s lifetime. It has sunk 16 inches in 8 years, while also tilting 2 inches. Slip, sliding away! So too may be many investors in the building’s condos The San Andreas Fault is overdue. Construction began on the Leaning Tower of Pisa in 1173 and was completed in 1372, two centuries later. It started leaning almost immediately, being built on loose sub-soil. One of the mysteries of history is who designed the Leaning Tower of Pisa? No one put their name on it. We know who designed and built the Millennium Tower. Their names are on a ton of documents. We know, and lawyers know. St. Francis of Assisi cannot save this one. Neither can Pope Francis.