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How to Build a Skyscraper - RailsConf 2016

How to Build a Skyscraper - RailsConf 2016

Since 1884, humans have been building skyscrapers. This means that we had 6 decades of skyscraper-building experience before we started building software (depending on your definition of "software"). Maybe there are some lessons we can learn from past experience?

This talk won't make you an expert skyscraper-builder, but you might just come away with a different perspective on how you build software.

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Ernie Miller

May 06, 2016
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Transcript

  1. 5 (The number of times more likely you are to

    receive stickers and/or hugs if you sit up front!)
  2. This is my most popular tweet. I am really proud

    of it. You should follow me @erniemiller for more useful content like this. ♥♥♥PLEASE SIT UP FRONT OR I WILL FEEL LONELY UP HERE!♥♥♥
  3. How to Build a Skyscraper

  4. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  5. How to Build a Skyscraper

  6. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  7. “The problems posed in skyscraper design are considered among the

    most complex encountered given the balances required between economics, engineering, and construction management. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  8. 1870 Equitable Life Building New York, New York, USA

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  13. 130 ft 7 stories

  14. The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States

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  20. Elisha Otis 1811 - 1861

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  26. Higher is better. (but only if you can move up

    and down easily)
  27. A solution that seems unremarkable to you might just change

    everything for others.
  28. None
  29. None
  30. New York Times, January 11th, 1912

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  32. None
  33. Never underestimate the power of people to break what you

    build.
  34. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  35. 1885 Home Insurance Building Chicago, Illinois, USA

  36. William Le Baron Jenney 1832 - 1907

  37. None
  38. 138 ft 10 stories

  39. Find inspiration from unexpected places.

  40. “ The American Skyscraper, 1850-1940: A Celebration of Height CC

    BY-NC-ND 3.0 No nineteenth-century skyscraper caused more controversy than did Chicago’s Home Insurance Building. Many claimed it was the Americas’ first skyscraper, others, of course, disagreed. Much depended upon whom you asked and much depended upon where they were from.
  41. Haters gonna hate. (don’t let that stop you from building)

  42. Haters gonna hate. (don’t let that stop you from building)

  43. Leroy S. Buffington 1847 - 1931

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  45. Ditherington Flax Mill Shrewsbury, UK Photo: Taliesin Edwards CC BY-SA

    3.0
  46. Patent trolls gonna patent troll. (meanwhile, you should be busy

    building)
  47. Patent trolls gonna patent troll. (meanwhile, you should be busy

    building)
  48. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  49. 1891 Monadnock Building Chicago, Illinois, USA

  50. Peter Chardon Brooks III (1831-1920) Collection of the Massachusetts Historical

    Society Owen F. Aldis (1853-1925)
  51. Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912 John Root 1850 - 1891

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  55. All Giza Pyramids Ricardo Liberato CC BY-SA 2.0

  56. Embrace constraints.

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  58. Monadnock Building David K. Staub CC BY-SA 2.5 215 ft

    17 stories
  59. None
  60. If you only focus on profitability, don’t be surprised when

    you start sinking.
  61. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  62. 1902 Fuller Flatiron Building New York, New York, USA

  63. John Root 1850 - 1891 Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912

  64. Frederick Dinkelberg 1858 - 1935 Daniel Burnham 1846 - 1912

  65. 285 ft 22 stories

  66. 285 ft 22 stories

  67. Flatiron “Point” Office Josh S. Jackson CC BY-NC 2.0

  68. The space you have to work with should influence how

    you build.
  69. Choose the right materials for the job.

  70. None
  71. Corydon Purdy 1859 - 1944

  72. Testing makes it possible to be confident about what we

    build, even when others aren’t.
  73. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  74. 1930 40 Wall Street - vs - The Chrysler Building

    New York, New York, USA
  75. William Van Alen 1883-1954 H. Craig Severance 1879-1941

  76. “It wouldn’t have mattered what I decided to do —

    doctor or lawyer. I would have done them all as well. — H. Craig Severance, on becoming an architect
  77. 40 Wall Street Wikipedia: ChrisRuvulo CC BY-SA 3.0 Chrysler Building

    Jessica Spengler CC BY 2.0 - vs -
  78. 40 Wall Street Wikipedia: ChrisRuvulo CC BY-SA 3.0 Chrysler Building

    Jessica Spengler CC BY 2.0 - vs -
  79. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance - vs -
  80. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 840 ft Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 808 ft - vs -
  81. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 840 ft Height in October: < 850 ft Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 808 ft Height in October: > 850 ft - vs -
  82. New Skyscraper Race is Won by Bank of Manhattan Building

    Plans Altered Twice to Beat Out Chrysler […] The Chrysler construction is so far advanced that further changes are impossible. […] — New York Evening Telegram, October 18th, 1929
  83. None
  84. There’s opportunity for great work in places nobody is looking.

  85. The World’s Tallest Building Raises the Stars and Stripes to

    the New York Heavens — The New York World, November 12th, 1929
  86. “ — Dow Service's Daily Building Report, November 16th, 1929

    This is the story of how two architects, formerly partners, vied with each other to erect two of the world's tallest man-made structures, and how one of them [...] finally succeeded in passing the hitherto thousand-foot pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower [...]
  87. 40 Wall Street Walter P. Chrysler William Van Alen Chrysler

    Building Yasuo Matsui Richmond Shreve William Lamb H. Craig Severance Announced: April, 1929 Announced height: 840 ft Height in October: < 850 ft 927 ft
 (70 stories) Announced: March, 1929 Announced height: 808 ft Height in October: > 850 ft 1,046 ft (77 stories) Cost: $14,000,000 Cost: $13,091,416 - vs -
  88. Big buildings are expensive. Big egos, even more so. (your

    building is not you)
  89. None
  90. Heights you have yet to reach seem more impressive than

    they do upon arrival.
  91. “ — American Architect and Architecture, volume 138 This case

    should be a lesson to other architects who are inclined to depend on their artistic rather than on their business ability, for no client wants to start an operation which may wind up in a law suit.
  92. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  93. 1931 Empire State Building New York, New York, USA

  94. Waldorf-Astoria Hotel New York, NY

  95. Al Smith 1873-1944 John J. Raskob 1879-1950

  96. “I’m to be an Irish landlord.” — Al Smith, addressing

    the press
 August 29th, 1929
  97. Richmond Shreve 1877-1946 William Lamb 1893-1952

  98. Richmond Shreve 1877-1946 William Lamb 1893-1952 Arthur Harmon 1878-1958

  99. “ — William Lamb, on designing the Empire State Building

    The program was short enough — a fixed budget, no space more than 38 feet from window to corridor, as many stories of as much space as possible, an exterior of limestone, and completion by May 1, 1931 […] The first three of these requirements produced the mass of the building and the latter two the characteristics of the design.
  100. When given a tight deadline, get ready to make concessions.

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  103. Even when making concessions, ensure a pleasant experience for those

    who matter.
  104. Her

  105. Him

  106. Him

  107. Possibly him

  108. Definitely not him

  109. For Sale
 Flickr: chucka_nc CC BY-SA 2.0

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  112. Reuse previous work. (even if it’s not yours)

  113. November 18th, 1929

  114. November 18th, 1929 “The determination of the height of the

    building will be based on the sound development of useable space. As we proceed with the plans the owners will be in a better position to determine what the height of the building is to be. — Richmond Shreve
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  118. “Building with an eye to the future, we have determined

    to build a mooring tower 200 feet high on top of the new Empire State Building. […] the Zeppelin would be anchored more than 1,300 feet in the air, with elevator facilities throughout the tower to land passengers downstairs seven minutes after the ship is anchored. — Al Smith, December 11th, 1929
  119. People can rationalize anything. (that doesn’t excuse you from trying

    to talk them out of it)
  120. None
  121. You might be able to design from top down, but

    you should build from bottom up.
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  123. Demolition order for 'mountain villa' built on China rooftop A

    medicine mogul who spent six years building his own private mountain peak and luxury villa atop a high-rise apartment block in China's capital has been given 15 days to tear it down. — The Telegraph, August 13, 2013
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  130. OK, this one isn’t at Empire State. “Lunch Atop a

    Skyscraper”, taken at Rockafeller Center, September 20, 1932
  131. Empire State Building David Shankbone CC BY-SA 3.0 1,250 ft

    102 stories 1,454 ft Opened: May 1st, 1931
  132. Speed is important, but it's not worth losing people over.

  133. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  134. 1952 United Nations Headquarters New York, New York, USA

  135. UN HQ Padraic Ryan CC BY-SA 3.0 509 ft tall

    39 stories
  136. None
  137. It doesn’t matter how pretty your building is if nobody

    wants to occupy it.
  138. Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company Brooklyn, New York, USA

  139. Willis Carrier 1876-1950

  140. Willis Carrier 1876-1950

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  142. Alfred Wolff 1859 - 1909

  143. None
  144. Engineering cool things is good. Engineering cool things that people

    can actually use is better.
  145. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  146. 1973 Willis (Sears) Tower Chicago, Illinois, USA

  147. Fazlur Rahman Khan 1928-1982

  148. Chicago from Hancock Todd Petrie CC BY 2.0

  149. None
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  151. KK 100 Shenzhen, China

  152. Majestic Centre Wellington, New Zealand

  153. 30 St. Mary Axe London, England Wikipedia: Diliff CC BY-SA

    3.0
  154. The higher you go, the windier it gets. (better develop

    a thick shell)
  155. Wikipedia: Cmglee CC BY-SA 3.0

  156. 1,450 ft 108 stories 1,729 ft Willis Tower Wikipedia: Soakoligist

  157. Multiple small structures working together can be more resilient than

    a single large building.
  158. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  159. 2004 Taipei 101 Taipei, Taiwan

  160. Taipei 101 mailer_diablo CC BY-SA 3.0 1,671 ft 1,474 ft

    101 stories
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  164. CATASTROPHIC FAILURE

  165. “[…] the only way to assure a lack of failure

    is to test for all modes of failure, in both the laboratory and the real world. But the only way to know of all modes of failure is to learn from previous failures. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  166. “Thus, no engineer can be absolutely sure that a given

    structure will resist all loadings that could cause failure, but can only have large enough margins of safety such that a failure is acceptably unlikely. — Wikipedia: Skyscraper Design and Construction
  167. Test to ensure catastrophic failure is acceptably unlikely. (and please,

    set a high bar for “acceptably”)
  168. None
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  172. Be rigid where you have to be, and flexible where

    you can afford to be.
  173. Taipei 101 Tuned Mass Damper Armand du Plessis CC BY

    3.0
  174. None
  175. None
  176. When the winds pick up, it’s good to have someone

    at the top pulling for you.
  177. This talk is not about skyscrapers.

  178. 2010 Burj Khalifa Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  179. September 11th, 2001

  180. Burj Khalifa Donaldytong CC BY-SA 3.0 2,717 ft tall 163

    stories
  181. Q: How do people get out of the Burj Khalifa

    in an emergency?
  182. They don’t. A:

  183. Leaving can’t be the only option.

  184. None
  185. None
  186. Create safe spaces.

  187. None
  188. Don’t make the safe spaces hard to reach.

  189. None
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  192. Eliminate toxic elements.

  193. Dubai Civil Defense Imre Solt CC BY-SA 3.0

  194. Help each other. Especially those who aren’t in a position

    to help themselves.
  195. People are what make buildings worth building.

  196. This was not a talk about skyscrapers.

  197. THANK YOU! Ernie Miller erniemiller Watch and read more: Big,

    Bigger, Biggest: Skyscraper National Geographic https://youtu.be/eigBF19aYmA Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City Neal Bascomb http://amzn.to/1KoDRFt The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City that Arose with It Alice Sparburg Alexiou http://amzn.to/1Ju1dDQ
  198. THANK YOU! ❤ Ernie Miller erniemiller Watch and read more:

    Big, Bigger, Biggest: Skyscraper National Geographic https://youtu.be/eigBF19aYmA Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City Neal Bascomb http://amzn.to/1KoDRFt The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City that Arose with It Alice Sparburg Alexiou http://amzn.to/1Ju1dDQ ZOMG STICKERS!!!