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Sat 17 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Will David Fisher have the last laugh and build his rotating tower?

A couple of events have occurred this past week that demonstrate the crazy and very interesting characteristics of the construction industry in the Gulf region.

A couple of events have occurred this past week that demonstrate the crazy and very interesting characteristics of the construction industry in the Gulf region.

One complaint that has surfaced in recent weeks illustrates the scepticism many industry observers have towards new technology to the region. Maybe scepticism is the wrong word and perhaps this is more of an example of how technology must prove itself first before it is accepted.

The folks who built the Bahrain World Trade Center are struggling to convince the public that its wind turbines are indeed working and providing power as it is designed to do.

Why the complaints? Well, it seems the turbines are not always turning, so therefore they must be broken. That's hardly the case since turbines only operate when it is necessary. And if a turbine-powered building is only at 5% capacity then it stands to reason that the device will not be operating at 100%.

There's a stretch of highway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs, California, that has hundreds of massive wind turbines operating. This part of the desert, not unlike the landscape on the Arabian Peninsula, has provided the backdrop to many movies over the years so Construction Week readers may be familiar with what I am talking about.

But inevitably the talk of those who frequently pass these turbines is why not all of them are working. The secret is this: All of them are working, but often when you are not looking.

In a different vein but about a different kind of tower is the news that the much maligned architect David Fisher is poised to launch his US $700 million 80-storey rotating tower. Can it be that Fisher might have the last laugh and actually get his outlandish scheme off the ground while everyone else is cutting back?

According to Fisher, the only reason why the Dynamic Tower hasn't broken ground is due to some delays in getting approval for land acquisition. Not technical glitches in the tower's technology and not due to the global financial crisis.

He doesn't exactly say when he is ready to put shovel to earth, only that building begins in a couple of months. But from the sound of it, he seems pretty close. And to add a bit of legitimacy to his claim the folks who are bringing another rotating building -- the 55° Time Dubai tower -- to Dubai, say they are ready to start in about two months.

That 30-storey, $204 million project will be in Dubailand's City of Arabia.

Yes, the Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Laing O'Rourke is eliminating 200 jobs, about 10% of its workforce. That's the reality of the business these days, but new technology to the Middle East, such as wind turbines, and the "march forward, never look back" attitude of architects and engineers remind us that the region remains vital and healthy.

Rob Wagner is the editor of Construction Week.

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Hal-Luke 11 years ago

Well, it is simple really.. if the wind turbines of the Bahrain Trade Centre are not working because it is claimed that when less than 5% usage requirement then the system shuts them down, then the answer is that they should be turning away full-time regardless to sell the extra electricity to Bahrain National Power Grid. They were not designed as decorations so they should work full time to pay their way. Secondly, when designing rotating buildings the architects must consider the full life-cycle operating costs. Unless there are cogent technical grounds, these rotating buildings could turn out to be nightmare for the Facilities Managers.. Do remember 80% of the cost of building goes into servicing it during it's full life-cycle.

Steve Alan 11 years ago

I wonder if he has ever addressed the major utility issues that go along with a project like this. I work in this field and I looked up Fishers patents, which are pending not issued and found another group with prior art called 3sixty Technology (You can find them on Google) out of Las Vegas who has rotating building patents. I reached out to them and they have stated that they have a suite of linear based technologies that have been working for 6 years with no leaking issues and are in talks with developers around the world regarding high-rise buildings as well as homes. I did some further DD and talked to 2 major engineering firms in Las Vegas and New York who 3sixty claimed to work with. I received very good confirmation on their technology across everything rotating. Does anyone know if they are connected?