No. 553 . 07 March 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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Soil liquefaction during a 1964 earthquake in Japan led these apartment buildings in Niigata to topple over intact. Engineering professor T.L. Youd took this famous photograph of one of the iconic scenes of building failure.

The Project is Going Down

by Kevin Matthews

What will you do to save our vital project?

You are the project manager for the most important project in the history of your firm, and you see the project heading into serious trouble. What do you do?

You can see that a combination of well-intentioned overall design flaws, interacting with localized construction defects, are likely over time to create a serious health and safety risk for the project, as well as exterior aesthetic flaws that will eventually become disfiguring.

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Accelerating loss of ice mass in Greenland and Antarctica, shown here in gigatons from 2002 to 2009, points to greater sea level rise due to global warming than previously predicted. Image: NASA

The economy is tough and jobs like this (the project, for the firm; the position at the firm, for you) are few and far between.

There's a good chance that the choices you make now could significantly impact the lives of hundreds of residents and workers in the large mixed-use complex you're building.

There's a good chance that the choices you make now will shape your own career, and life path, for years and even decades to come.

If you go 20 years into the future in your mind's eye, and look back at this moment from that vantage point, what do you wish that you had done now — today, this week, this month — as you sat in the hot seat, pressed with the weight of your sound professional insight that this great project was starting to slowly, silently go very, very wrong?   >>>

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