Photo by Iwan Baan

Manhattan's 1,776-ft-tall One World Trade Center Officially Opens

The $3.9-billion One World Trade Center—the Western Hemisphere's tallest building, thanks to a 441-ft-tall spire—officially opened on Nov. 3, more than 13 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the original 110-story Twin Towers. The 104-story tower—designed by architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, with structural engineer WSP Cantor Seinuk and mechanical engineer Jaros Baum & Bolles after an early collaboration with Studio Daniel Libeskind—has redundant and beefed-up structural and mechanical systems, and the air-supply system has biological and chemical filters. Managed by Tishman Construction Corp., construction began in 2006 (ENR 8/15/11 p. 38). The project survived controversy, a 2005 redesign for security and other delays.

More Transportation Projects Are Using Warm-Mix Asphalt

According to a new report from the National Asphalt Pavement Association, pavement companies last year made 106.4 million tons of warm-mix asphalt, a 23% increase over 2012. This represents about a third of the total U.S. asphalt production. Foaming the mix at the plant was the most common method used in its production, representing 87% of the total, while chemical additives accounted for the remainder. Pavement producers, also in 2013, recycled 67.8 million tons of reclaimed pavement and 1.6 million tons of reclaimed roof shingles, saving more than $2 billion in road costs, NAPA says.

Crane Coalition Formed While OSHA Reviews Regulations

Ten construction industry organizations have formed the Coalition for Crane Operator Safety (CCOS) to ensure what they call a "swift revision" to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration's pending review of operator testing and qualification requirements in its cranes and derricks regulation. "The uncertainty and delay around the new crane-operator certification requirements jeopardizes the safety of construction workers and the general public," says James T. Callahan, general president of the operating engineers' union and a CCOS member. OSHA in September issued a three-year enforcement delay to its crane-operator testing requirements while it reviews the certification provisions.

Rental Group Lowers Machinery Forecast Due to Soft Recovery

The American Rental Association has lowered its forecast this year for equipment rentals, which now are expected to grow 7.3%, to a total volume of $35.7 billion. The revised forecast, compiled by IHS, is slightly below ARA's July forecast of 7.6%, to $35.8 billion. The downgrade is due to "the general economy and the construction industry, where growth this year has not met expectations," says Scott Hazelton, director of industry consulting for IHS. Long-term forecasts remain upbeat, with rental revenue continuing to climb an estimated 9.2% in 2015, to $39 billion, followed by growth of 7.7% in 2016, 8.5% in 2017 and 9.3%, to reach $49.8 billion, in 2018.

Prices of Solar Systems See Double-Digit Declines

Photovoltaic-system prices dropped 12%, to 19%, in the U.S. in 2013, according to a new report from the Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif. The report also notes that 2014 prices are expected to drop another 3% to 12% by year's end. "These price drops are consistent with previous annual reductions achieved since 2010, when the Energy Dept.'s SunShot Initiative was established," said NREL's David Feldman, a lead author of the report.

Private Spacecraft Explosion Hampers Tourism Plans

The space business suffered a setback on Oct. 31, when Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo crashed in the Mojave Desert during a test flight, killing one pilot. The reusable spacecraft, part of entrepreneur Richard Branson's plan to develop space tourism and support NASA suborbital research missions, had just been released from the double-hulled aircraft, which carries it up to 50,000 ft, when the explosion occurred. Investigators have identified the premature deployment of the airfoil reentry system as a potential cause.