Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

10 Big Facts About Toronto’s CN Tower

Image courtesy of CN Tower
Image courtesy of CN Tower

Toronto's CN Tower is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and when adding in the height of its antenna on top, it’s the tallest freestanding structure in the western hemisphere. If you want to be higher than the birds, get ready to take flight and zoom up to the top of this iconic building. If you are scared of heights, don’t look down.

1. THE GLASS FLOOR OF THE OBSERVATION LEVEL CAN WITHSTAND THE WEIGHT OF 35 MOOSE.

Go ahead—jump up and down! The CN Tower's Glass Floor was designed to be strong, and can withstand the weight of 35 moose. Load tests are performed yearly (no, not with actual moose). The solid glass is actually five times stronger than what is required for weight-bearing commercial floors, and has the picturesque bonus of being situated 113 stories above the ground—perfect for a selfie.

2. TWICE A YEAR, YOU CAN TAKE THE STAIRS ALL THE WAY UP.

Fair warning for interested parties: that is a total of 1776 stairs (144 flights). Each year, the CN Tower hosts two fundraising stair climbs—one for the World Wildlife Fund of Canada, the other for United Way of Greater Toronto—that attract more than 20,000 participants and raise more than $2.5 million annually. 

3. THERE'S A TIME CAPSULE IN THE WALL OF THE TOWER'S LOOKOUT LEVEL.

As part of the tower's grand opening in 1976, a time capsule was placed in the wall of the building's LookOut level. Included in the time capsule are copies of three local newspapers, Canadian coins, letters from children, and a letter from then-Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (the father of current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau). The plan is to open the capsule in 2076.

4. ON A CLEAR DAY, YOU CAN SEE NIAGARA FALLS FROM THE TOP.

From the Tower's SkyPod level, visibility can be up to 100 miles on a clear day, making it possible to see Niagara Falls and New York State. (Binoculars may help.)

5. IT'S A TARGET FOR LIGHTNING.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images

This mighty tall tower is Toronto’s biggest lightning rod. According to Geoffrey Coulson, an Environment Canada meteorologist, the CN Tower is typically struck by lightning 75 to 80 times a year—but sometimes it’s much more frequent. In August of 2011, the tower was struck by lightning 52 times in 84 minutes. As for visiting: It’s safe for visitors to be there during a storm, since the tower channels the lightning charge through long copper strips. In fact, in 2015, a representative for the tower told the Toronto Star that “a lightning strike is not discernible to anyone inside the CN Tower. The sky may flash white for an instant. It is most visible outside and away from the tower.”

6. IF YOU'RE DARING ENOUGH, YOU CAN LEAN BACK—HANDS-FREE—OVER TORONTO.

Adventurous types can sign up to experience the tower's EdgeWalk, which allows you to take a stroll along a five-foot-wide ledge on the top of the building's main pod—outside. You are attached to an overhead safety rail and harness system, which allows you to physically lean back for a great view of Lake Ontario. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, and it doesn't come cheap. Tickets are $195 (though that comes with a video to prove to your family and friends that you actually did it).

7. THE TOWER'S COLORS ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING.

The CN Tower's funky LED illumination light system is energy-efficient, low-maintenance, and free of UV radiation. It can also be controlled and directed, meaning that the Tower's colors regularly change; it goes green for Earth Day, turns blue for the Toronto Blue Jays's home opener, and becomes red and pink for Mother’s Day. This system also lets the city pay tribute to events around the world; in 2015, following the terror attacks in Paris, the tower was illuminated with the colors of the French flag—red, white, and blue.

8. IT'S GOT THE CLEAREST RECEPTION IN NORTH AMERICA.

The 335-foot steel communications antenna at the very top of the CN Tower broadcasts more than 30 Toronto television and FM radio signals, as well as microwave transmissions and wireless telephone signals. The antenna, which consists of 44 pieces, was put into place by a 10-ton Sikorsky helicopter named Olga. (Because what else would you name a helicopter?)

9. IT'S HOME TO THE WORLD'S HIGHEST WINE CELLAR.

In 1997 the “wine cellar in the sky” opened at 360, a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower. In 2006, Guinness World Records dubbed it the world's highest wine cellar (it's situated 1151 feet above the ground in Toronto). It can hold an impressive amount of vino, too—up to 9000 bottles. Cheers!

10. LAST YEAR, TWO DAREDEVILS JUMPED FROM THE TOP OF THE TOWER.

In 2015, as part of the Pan Am Games, French BASE jumpers Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet surprised onlookers when they jumped from the top of the tower while film crews and a crowd looked on. (Yes, they had parachutes).

All images courtesy of CN Tower unless otherwise noted.

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SmithGroupJJR
Futuristic New Street Toilets Are Coming to San Francisco
SmithGroupJJR
SmithGroupJJR

San Francisco’s streets are getting shiny new additions: futuristic-looking public toilets. Co.Design reports that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has chosen a new design for self-cleaning street toilets by the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR that will eventually replace the city’s current public toilets.

The design is a stark contrast to the current San Francisco toilet aesthetic, a green knockoff of Paris’s Sanisettes. (They’re made by the same company that pioneered the Parisian version, JCDecaux.) The tall, curvy silver pods, called AmeniTREES, are topped with green roof gardens designed to collect rainwater that can then be used to flush the toilets and clean the kiosks themselves. They come in several different variations, including a single or double bathroom unit, one with benches, a street kiosk that can be used for retail or information services, and a design that can be topped by a tree. The pavilions also have room for exterior advertising.

Renderings of the silver pod bathrooms from the side and the top
SmithGroupJJR

“The design blends sculpture with technology in a way that conceptually, and literally, reflects San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods,” the firm’s design principal, Bill Katz, explained in a press statement. “Together, the varied kiosks and public toilets design will also tell a sustainability story through water re-use and native landscapes.”

San Francisco has a major street-poop problem, in part due to its large homeless population. The city has the second biggest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, and data collected in 2017 shows that the city has around 7500 people living on its streets. Though the city started rolling out sidewalk commodes in 1996, it doesn’t have nearly enough public toilets to match demand. There are only 28 public toilets across the city right now, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These designs aren’t ready to go straight into construction first—the designers have to work with JCDeaux, which installs the city’s toilets, to adapt them “to the realities of construction and maintenance,” as the Chronicle puts it. Then, those plans will have to be submitted to the city’s arts commission and historic preservation commission before they can be installed.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Houben and Van Mierlo Architecten
Dutch City Will Become the World's First to Build Inhabitable 3D-Printed Concrete Houses
Houben and Van Mierlo Architecten
Houben and Van Mierlo Architecten

A new 3D-printed concrete housing development is coming to the Netherlands in 2019, CNN reports. The structures will be the first habitable 3D-printed concrete houses in the world, according to Project Milestone, the organization behind the initiative.

While architects and engineers have been experimenting with 3D-printed buildings for several years, most of those structures have just been prototypes. The Dutch development, located in Eindhoven, is expected to be ready for its first residents by mid-2019.

Project Milestone is a collaboration between the city of Eindhoven, Eindhoven University of Technology, the contractor Van Wijnen, the real estate company Vesteda—which will own and manage the houses—the engineering consultancy Witteveen+Bos, and the construction materials company Weber Beamix.

A rendering of boulder-like homes in the middle of a field
Houben and Van Mierlo Architecten

The five planned homes will be built one by one, giving the architects and engineers time to adjust their process as needed. The development is expected to be completed over the next five years.

The housing development won’t look like your average residential neighborhood: The futuristic houses resemble massive boulders with windows in them. The first house, scheduled for completion in 2019, will be a 1022-square-foot, three-room home. It will be a single-story house, though all the rest of the homes will have multiple stories. The first house will be built using the concrete printer on the Eindhoven University of Technology’s campus, but eventually the researchers hope to move the whole fabrication process on-site.

In the next few years, 3D-printed houses will likely become more commonplace. A 3D-printed home in Tennessee is expected to break ground sometime later in 2018. One nonprofit is currently trying to raise money to build a development of 100 3D-printed houses in El Salvador within the next two years. And there is already a 3D-printed office building open in Dubai.

In Eindhoven, residents appear to be fairly eager for the development to open. Twenty families have already applied to live in the first home.

You can learn more about the construction process in the video below.

[h/t CNN]

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