Hats Off | Urban Living

Hats Off



There's so much being planned for downtown lately, I'd have to take up the entire weekly edition to take you block by block and point out what's what. It's not city planners who have their pencils worn down to their nubs but developers who are envisioning our future. For example, you've heard about Joel LaSalle's exclusive deal with the RDA to split the cost of a study of what to do with the Utah Theater property on Main? He owns Gandolfo's NY Deli and Murphy's Bar and Grill, right next door to the theater.

What you probably didn't notice, though, was the big hat coming down on 111 Main this past week. Salt Lake's newest high rise, coated in exterior glass plates (windows to us lay people) of 24 stories got loaded with its "hat" of trusses at the top. Those huge white I-beams were placed there and all the developers and worker bees held their breath because this kind of building design causes the whole structure to then settle from the top down. On Saturday the building dropped four feet, from top to bottom, and not one glass panel cracked—a miracle of modern architectural genius. Then again, this building design is how the Twin Towers in New York were designed and built. The 95 story Shard in London (a glass pyramid structure completed in 2012) is also an example of hat truss construction.

Matt Baldwin, the director of City Creek Reserve, explained to me that this kind of building has a "2,500 year event" rating for earthquakes, and that it's built similar to something like a popsicle at its core. When the truss is placed on the top of the building, the core doesn't move, but the rest of the building does and sets permanently on its frame. The Twin Towers came down after the aircraft impact because gravity loads that were previously carried by severed columns were redistributed to other walls and columns. The steel expanded with the fire and the temperature of the core became hotter than the exterior walls of the towers. Engineers figured that once the upper building section began to move downward due to heating and gravity, the cores collapsed and every wall around them followed down to the streets. That act of terrorism doesn't scare builders today because the hat truss system is respected around the world as a very smart and stable way to build tall, tall buildings.

When completed, 111 Main is going to be the home for not only more Goldman Sachs employees but the District Attorney's Office, too. As the hat dropped successfully, the folks involved with 111 Main had a little gathering on 1/11 at 1:11 p.m. to celebrate. Hats off.

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