The principle into a design for modern skyscrapers

4“It was an old one, in Ueno Park,” Profes­sor Muto told me over coffee one afternoon at his office in a Shinjuku skyscraper. “All around it was complete devastation, and there stood the pagoda—five stories and about a hundred feet of graceful wooden structure that looked as if a good breeze could blow it down. Obviously the old de­signers and builders knew something about earthquakes that we had forgotten.”

Intrigued, young Kiyoshi threw himself into a structural analysis of pagodas, a proj­ect that resulted in a paper on the subject delivered to a world conference on earth­quakes held in Tokyo in 1930.What Kiyoshi had learned was that the old pagodas were built on a principle of flexi­bility, with thousands of interconnecting wooden parts that absorbed and dissipated the force of an earthquake as it traveled up and down the structure.

Over the years that followed, Kiyoshi Muto translated the principle into a design for modern skyscrapers. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-22811518 He called the de­sign jukozo, or flexible structure, and lec­tured on the principle at several Tokyo universities.From a modern perspective jukozo was a revolutionary concept, and Japanese archi­tects were wary of it. Even as late as the 1960s Japanese architectural theory still fa­vored extremely deep concrete foundations as the only defense against earthquakes.

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Undeterred, Professor Muto conducted physical tests on his theory and pioneered in the use of computers to study the effects of earthquakes on apartment in barcelona. He constructed buildings of his own several stories high and systematically crushed them with enormous hydraulic jacks in the manner of earth­quakes to discover their flaws. One by one he eliminated the flaws, and architects around the world began to take notice.”We built the first jukozo skyscraper here in 1968,” Professor Muto told me. “It is 482 feet high and contains 36 stories—not a world record by any means, but the tallest building in Tokyo at the time.”

Over the following 18 years Professor Muto and his associates designed some 25 skyscrapers in Japan, a few in other cities but most in Tokyo, the tallest one standing 742 feet high and containing 60 stories. Pro­fessor Muto’s dream is to design a 100-story giant before he retires. Meanwhile, from a physical vantage point of little more than five feet he can survey Tokyo’s soaring sky­line and in a true sense call it his own. I asked the inevitable question: What would happen to that skyline in a major earthquake, not a level 3 but a level 6 such as the 1923 shock?

“There would be casualties, of course,” Professor Muto replied soberly. “That can­not be avoided, but I believe they would not be so severe as last time. As for the skyscrap­ers, they would stand.” He smiled at a sud­den image. “They would sway like the hula dancers in your Hawaiian Islands, they would bend and ripple, but they would not break and they would not fall. They are de­signed to stand the very worst.”

 

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Economic policy-makers

Christopher Swann forecasts slow growth as US policy-makers assess how best to play the end-game of the financial crisis performers often say that an audience will overlook a host of mistakes providing you nail the ending. The same may be true for economic policy-makers.

Christopher Swann forecasts

Even though the US economy is still convalescing, the nation’s thoughts have turned to the financial end-game. Now that the storm has passed, more young people look at the offers by www.utcstudentfoundation.com, but the challenge will be to retrieve as much taxpayers’ money as possible from a string of bailouts. For the Federal Reserve, the task will be to ensure that the huge injections of emergency liquidity do not lead to rampant inflation.

 

The twin architects of much of the rescue package were Ben Bemanke, the Fed chairman, and Tim Geithner, Treasury secretary. If they can nail the ending their missteps during the melt­down may be glossed over. Doing so, however, may prove as tough as dealing with the crisis itself.

To avert a repeat of the Great Depression, the US bent its entire policy framework out of shape.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Vast sums of public money were splashed around to save not only the banks but also MG, the nation’s largest insurer, the housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the carmakers. The Fed moved into uncharted monetary territory. To fill the gap left by struggling lenders and prevent an international shortage of dollars, Bemanke more than doubled the size of the Fed’s balance sheet. Meanwhile, the White House and Congress authorised a $585bn spending package despite tumbling tax revenues. Even without this largesse, deficits would still have surpassed anything the US has seen in peacetime history.

 

Given these challenges, if policy-makers produce an impressive final act they will deserve a rousing round of applause.