For the mountain lion community in Southern California, USA the 100-year-old highway that cuts through their natural habitat strands animal populations on either side, disrupting their ecosystems and sometimes impacting their very odds of survival. Tearing up the 10-line highway wasn’t exactly an option. So a slew of partners—including Caltrans, National Wildlife Federation, National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, the Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains—took a different tack. The Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing, which had its groundbreaking in April, will be a lush, lion-friendly walkway that spans the massive highway, providing a path between the protected lands on either side. The project is particularly high profile, given the growing interest (and new federal funding) for projects that can reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions.
15th Most Influential Project of 2022
Led by China Railway Group Limited, the Lvzhijiang Bridge redefines what makes a suspension bridge a suspension bridge—with a record-breaking feat of engineering that connects two sides of a deep canyon. The result is certainly stunning: a bridge that seems, on one end, to almost levitate of its own accord. But it’s more than just architectural eye candy. The three-year project transforms what was once a 90-minute car journey into a two-minute jaunt—potentially bringing tourism to the Yunnan province and boosting the local economy.
21st Most Influential Project of 2022
The Yangtze River Delta region accounts for about one-sixth of China’s entire population and one-fourth of the country’s GDP. But limited commuting options—and lengthy travel times between towns—have long dampened the ability of local companies to recruit and retain talent. To better connect the region—and bolster its economy—the China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group and Third Harbor Engineering partnered on a project to build Taihu Tunnel, a two-way, six-lane highway that is China’s longest and widest passageway under a lake.
33rd Most Influential Project of 2022
Parisians (and tourists, of course) have long flocked to the Seine, the picturesque river that bisects the city. People stroll its banks, gaze at it from the city’s bridges or board un bateau-mouche. What’s the one thing they can’t do? Go for a dip. Bacteria from the city’s centuries-old storm drains—the result of raw sewage that seeps in during heavy rains—make a swim in the Seine a less-than-enticing proposition. But ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, city officials are working on what could be a game-changing project with geotechnical solutions provider Soletanche Bachy, tunnel-building company Bessac, geodata specialists Fugro and engineering group Artelia. The plan is to build an underwater tank near the Left Bank’s Gare d’Austerlitz train terminal to capture stormwater and prevent it from overloading the system. Announced in December 2021, the €1.4 billion project is a massive undertaking: The tank would be capable of holding up to 46,000 cubic meters (12 million gallons) and will require a network of pumps and channels to gradually move rainwater out once it’s captured. While the tank won’t be visible above ground, its effects certainly will be: a river that’s already a sight to see will now also be a site to swim.
In the perhaps-not-so-distant future, when flying cars and drones become common vehicles for everyday travel, they’ll need a place to take off, land and recharge—and, if manned, to board passengers. Coventry, U.K., is ready to welcome them with what’s believed to be the first airport for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Upon touchdown on the airport’s landing platform, the flying car or drone will drop down inside the hangar, where it can unload and recharge to be ready for its next flight. Conceived by U.K. aviation startup Urban-Air Port with support from U.S. mobility company Supernal, the 1,579-square-meter (17,000-square-foot), hydrogen-powered facility known as Air-One launched its first cargo drone flight in April, and it’s estimated the first flying car with passengers could take off from the site by 2025. For now, Urban-Air Port is flying high—with plans for 200 more such facilities in cities around the world in the next five years.
The problem? A serene canal needed a footbridge for pedestrians and cyclists to cross. The solution? The world’s first stainless steel bridge fabricated entirely through 3D printing and constructed with the help of four six-axis robotic arms equipped with welding gear. The six-year project to connect the two sides of Amsterdam’s Oudezijds Achterburgwal with a 10,000-pound (4,536-kilogram) steel bridge was completed last year—simultaneously highlighting how 3D printing can maximize design efficiency and reduce material waste. The project team included design studio Joris Laarman Lab, engineering firm Arup, cloud company and additive manufacturing company MX3D. And for added futureproofing, the team also fitted the engineering marvel with an array of sensors, which will send data to a digital twin, monitored by statisticians and engineers at Imperial College London, who will study the bridge’s long-term use patterns and durability.
The narrowest point in Mexico—with the Gulf of Mexico on one coast and the Pacific on the other—is known as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Transporting goods across this 300-kilometer (186-mile) strip of land has been common practice for more than a century, and the trade corridor’s rail facilities were showing their age. So the Mexican government has undertaken a full-scale, USD$5 billion revitalization of the Trans-Isthmus railway, its shipping ports, and the stations and industrial parks along the route. The revamp would allow the corridor to receive larger cargo ships, which, in turn, would save vessels an estimated 10 days per voyage versus using the Panama Canal. The Mexican navy, which will control the corridor, entered into post-bid negotiations in May, with operations slated to start in early 2024.
It’s an all-too-common sight across city landscapes: once-vibrant public spaces that turn into urban blight. One prime example? Rotterdam’s Hofbogen. Situated around a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) elevated train track, the area went from bustling to all-but-abandoned after a 1940 bombing raid. Seeing potential for a rebirth, a project team—including De Urbanisten, DS landscape architects, De Dakdokters and Dudok Group—began reimagining the area. A plan was born: As part the city government’s €233 million push to build more climate-adaptive and sustainable public spaces, the team would turn the abandoned railway viaduct into a rooftop park. Though just 8 meters (26 feet) wide, it would be lush with vegetation and offer plenty of space for relaxing and recreation, while also integrating features like a rainwater capture and storage system that can increase the city’s climate resiliency. Renderings were released late last year, with the super-skinny park’s completion slated for 2024.
The massive Tibetan Plateau—nicknamed “the roof of the world” because of its high altitude—will soon be home to the world’s largest structure built entirely without human labor. The project, which moved into the construction phase in December 2021, aims to build the 180-meter (590-feet) Yangqu Dam strictly with 3D printing and autonomous AI technology, including unmanned bulldozers, trucks, excavators and pavers—alleviating the potential for safety risks and human error. Project partners include the Upper Yellow River Hydropower Development Co., State Power Investment Corporation, Gansu Electric Power Investment Group and Shaanxi Hydropower Development Co. Situated on the Yellow River, the dam and its corresponding hydroelectric power station will provide power to roughly 100 million in Henan Province.
The underground central station in Naples, Italy was getting an upgrade, part of the government’s planned “regeneration of city life.” And architecture firm Benedetta Tagliabue – EMBT had a grand vision for the critical piece of infrastructure: “a more harmonious connection between this artificial podium and the heart of the city, generating a more sustainable and attractive public space.” And while glass, metal and concrete dominate public transit hubs, the Spanish architecture studio picked an unexpected material for the project: wood. The 10,000-square-meter (107,639-square-foot) station is constructed with glued mass timber, a low-carbon material that has been moving into the mainstream for commercial and private buildings. Completed in October 2021, the station thrusts timber into the spotlight for public transit projects as well.