Millennium Tower

The Millennium tower in San Francisco that has been in slow-motion collapse for the last 18 years, did get a taxpayer bailout, after I anticipated it several years back in 2017! Look at this con: They're building a public works project nearby, a glorified bus station, which was used as an excuse to get a taxpayer bailout for the hundreds of millions it will cost to attempt to tip the huge tower back straight. In case you were wondering how the entitled and connected rich manage to weather any and all setbacks, it's because they have set up mechanisms to control the "governments," basically huge extortion and enrichment schemes. Yes, government, and even the concept of "countries," and what we need from them, need a rethink. And to be thought through properly this time.

This 197 m. (645 ft.) white elephant was built as an "upscale" condo building in 2009, on Mission Street, a main drag, pardon the pun. It had already sunk about 10 inches when the city signed an agreement with the building's lawyers to fix any and all damage caused by the excavation they were doing for the new Transbay Transit Center, a rail and bus terminal (though many don't think the high-speed rail component to L.A. will ever be financed).

Now the reason it sank, 18 inches to date, and tilted over 29 inches off-center, is because they built this "ultra-luxury" tippy-tower on clay, mud and fill used to claim some extra land for San Fran. Now, normally, the engineering practice is to dig or drill down -- down to bedrock, and build up supports/piers from there to sit the building on, but, no worries, because their way of avoiding all that would save some money! And of course, San Francisco isn't on a fault line, or anything. Just to be sure it couldn't sink, the building was built extra-heavy, using concrete instead of the originally intended steel framing.

Do a search and take a look at the pictures of the cracks in the basement, the parking garage. I don't think you could pay me to go down there. Wonder if they're using Spackle or Bondo for the patchwork? Probably it'll be just mashed-up newspapers and water, since they're going to wait for the long-suffering taxpayer to foot the bill for the proper materials.

Now, Ron Turdburglar, I mean Ronald McDonald, I mean Ron Hamburger (yes, that's his name) is in charge of the "fix," drilling piles to bedrock that they'll link to the building to support it. But... Oopsie! The construction made the tilting problem worse at first! As of June 2023, it appears the "fix" has been implemented, and they're claiming further settling/tilting is "minimal," but now the building has begun tilting in a different direction!

But that's okay: they can regroup and find something else to waste money on.

Absolutely no worries: the new plan is somewhat complex, but should be workable, as seen here:

moving the Empire State Building

Engineering is a (mostly, sometimes) exact science, so "repairers" should be able to tell from the get-go how their repairs will affect things. Okay, things don't always go to plan, so the requirement should be that they publish a contingency plan for if they don't. Also, every step should be public.

Some engineers predicted that the "repairs" to the Millennium Tower were going to make matters worse, and they were proven right. It is now tilting several inches more than when they began the "remediation." You can't fight stupid, and that's how you get bunglers in charge of things. Many people have some, mild, intelligence, but they're not smart enough to know when they're being really stupid, due to the false confidence of being right a few times in the past.

Imagine the catastrophically-failed Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge. Suppose you said ahead of time, "My calculations show that structure is going to collapse in a strong wind." And there was probably someone who did give a warning.

Well, that thing tumbled like a house of cards, but how do you successfully challenge bad design? All the onus would be on you, which is a complete reversal from the proper way of doing things. You'd have to build a model or something, which, as you can imagine, is a tremendous amount of work. Which is to say, it's seldom easy for the person in the right.

What might happen instead? Catcalls, demonization, perhaps even firing... Let's face it, bad engineering projects get pushed through when they rely on inertia and group think. Again, exactly the wrong way to approach complicated projects.

In the here and now, it doesn't matter if it collapses, it will be unlivable in another few inches of tilt: things already roll and slide, but the plumbing and elevator will fail, within four years at the current rate of continuing movement.

In a rational world, they must start demolition now -- why aren't neighbors pushing for it? At least, there needs to be a clear exit path. For example, there should be a proclamation, like: "If the tower leans another 6 inches, it is be immediately condemned, and everyone must move."

No loss. From pictures of these "luxury apartments," something is very clear: these apartments are crap, and they're selling them for big money. It's like everyone is brainwashed, because no one in his right mind should actually be buying them.

Weasels Running Cover

Yet another jerk, from the Practical.Engineering website, is actually trying to cover for the botched and criminally shoddy construction of the Millennium tower. Amusingly, while trying to say the tilt isn't visible, it's obvious from the very picture published -- the splash image of the video from that site -- that it's off-kilter. Use the much larger Salesforce tower behind Millennium for reference. Now look at the column of windows right beside the Millennium tower. Assuming Salesforce is straight, which is a pretty good bet, you can clearly see Millennium leans leftward, closing the gap with that column of windows, as you follow it upward.

leaning tower of San Francisco

In the News

(reportedly from the Seattle Times, 2016)

The scandal of the Millennium Tower turned decidedly more political this week when Aaron Peskin, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, told reporters that he had unearthed official documents showing that the city’s building inspection department had raised concerns about sinking seven years ago, just before the building was to open its doors.

A letter sent by the city to the engineering firm spoke of “larger than usual” settlement of the structure and asked whether the consequences had been studied.

Yet six months later, in August 2009, the city declared the building safe for occupancy.

On Tuesday, Peskin questioned why the city had allowed people to move in.

Real World Assessment

As always, it's good to get an actual worker's take on things:

@justastranger4111, 2022

I was an ironworker on this building from footings up. The amount of rebar in the foundation is nuts, but VERY early in the project it was well-known to be built to outdated foundation specs compared to the change orders tacked on going vertical. These issues were brought to the attention of the general contractor AND the developer. They could have been corrected early on, but the developer downplayed them to minimize costs and maximize profits.

These issues were known BEFORE the structure reached street level.

I’m not saying anything, I’m just saying... cough scumbags *cough*.

Even before the iron stopped flying and the finish work began, the building was leaning. It was a fucking nightmare to work on if I was under someone that liked setting down (and subsequently losing) their tools and dropping them on me. It’s funny until you realize some sleever bars weigh 10lbs and have a tapered tip. This place is going ass over tea kettle during the next major earthquake.

I hope the responsible parties have to sleep on the streets by the time the problems are corrected. They acted with zero regard and responsibility to the people dumb enough to move into this building... and what is the US if it isn’t coddling the stupidest, most entitled, and greediest among us?

What's Going to Happen?

Barring a natural disaster like a quake bringing the whole thing down, there will be continually more anomalies and failures, like the recent breaking window glass. The building will have to be eventually abandoned, and it is probably quietly becoming vacant now. All the current maneuvers are merely to take the heat off the developer and minimize his losses, shuffling the burden to insurers, or, mainly, the taxpayer. When that is completed, then we'll see some real action, where they'll do what has to be done: floor by floor disassembly of the tower.

In a Rational World

Hmmm... What to do? What to do? Well that's easy: everyone who participated in this farce, or signed off on it would have to be held personally responsible. It amounts to hundreds of people who would have to cough up the cash. Insurers and the banks have to be held culpable as well, as the building was already leaning before occupancy, and insurance companies, and banks, should have done their due diligence to find it was built, "toothpicks in sand" style. By insuring or mortgaging these units, they were participating in a confidence scam. It's racketeering. Between all of these culprits, there's more than enough recoverable money to pay for the demolition, and perhaps a little left over for some compensation for the buyers who were tricked.