For hundreds of years, the rich have lived in the huge mansions or palaces spread over hundreds of acres. When we began to build sky-high buildings, multi-million dollar luxury condos on the top of these skyscrapers became home to the wealthy community of big cities. One of the largest luxury towers of San Francisco has begun to sink, and engineers have no idea how to save it!
Millenium Tower, the fourth tallest building in San Francisco, is a luxury residential complex. It’s 58 stories stand at the height of 645 ft (195 meters). The building is home to 400 multimillion-dollar condo units, but it has now sunk 17 inches (43 cm) after its completion in 2008. The skyscraper is now tilted 14 inches (36 cm) towards the street.
The Millenium Tower offers its residents with world class facilities such as a wine cellar and tasting room, separate movie theater, fitness center, and classic restaurants. The condos in the building were sold for $100 million within the first five weeks of its opening. The prices varied between $1.6 million to $10 million. The grand penthouse in the building was sold for $9.4 million alone. These condos have now lost their value by an average of $320,000 per unit.
Imagine if your beloved home is sinking into the ground and you don’t know how to fix it. The residents of the luxury apartment complex are going through the same pain. Sadly, the officials have known this since 2010 that the building was sinking. However, they informed the residents only in June 2015 when it had already sunk by 16 inches. Authorities say that the building is still safe to reside, but the residents are not very happy about it.
Millennium Partners, the company behind the construction project, points out the reason for the disaster saying that the nearby construction, mainly the Transbay Transit Center, is responsible for this as they broke ground in 2010. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority developed a terminal by digging a 60-foot hole for the train tunnel. Engineers at Millennium Partners say that the new terminal removed massive amounts of ground water while building the tunnel, and it has contributed the most to the building’s end.
Satellite images show that the skyscraper will continue to sink at the rate of 2 inches per year, and it is much higher than the anticipation of engineers.
In turn, Transbay Joint Powers Authority has issued a statement claiming that the Millennium Tower used concrete instead of steel, and it is shifting the base of the building. They added that the foundation had already started moving after the building opened up in 2008. The statement reads,
“The net pressure of the Millennium Tower loads the Old Bay Clay stratum that lies 90 feet below ground level below the tips of the piles used to support the 10-foot thick mat foundation of the Tower. These pressures are much larger than those caused by any adjacent buildings and likely caused the Old Bay Clay to enter a highly sensitive under consolidated state. This load has contributed to the excessive settlement at the Millennium Tower prior to the start of any underground construction of the Transit Center and has reduced the capability of the Tower to withstand any reduction in water table, regardless of the cause of that reduction in water table.”
Many engineering firms in the area have got together and estimated that the cost of saving the building would range between $100 million to $150 million. That sounds like the cost of another new skyscraper but the project done at the cost of $350 million needs saving. Also, the Bay Area in the city is vulnerable to a volatile earthquake in the next few years, and that leaves the engineers with quite a short timeline to save the building from collapsing.
Do you think that the building will be saved? We certainly do wish and hope so!