The Nightmare of San Francisco’s Sinking Tower, Explained 

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The Millennium Tower has been a nightmare since the completion of construction back in 2009. The tower has been sinking by approximately 18 inches and leaning toward the northwest corner of the site by about 29 inches. And in an effort to fix the issue the tower's tilt accelerated further. This tilting isn't normal and if this continues at this rate the elevators and plumbing could have potential damaging effects. In this video we explore the issues surrounding the tower.
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#millenniumtower #sanfrancisco #sinkingtower



2 Haz 2023




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Architecture with Ashley
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scabthecat 2 aylar önce
Your hands never stop moving.
Mark Leavenworth
Mark Leavenworth 2 aylar önce
And no information whatsoever in the two months since then…😮
NuclearSavety Aylar önce
​@scabthecat and that is rather distracting ...
MrGaryg20047 3 aylar önce
You forgot to mention about the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 and quite a few homes especially in the Marina District sunk and destroyed because the structures were built on top of mudflats which causes liquefaction, and the owners still rebuilt in that area again and these greedy developers still want to put a heavy condo building on top of landfill.
Thorbjørn Hellehaven
I remember a shopping center when I was younger. The building had good foundation, while the parking lot didn't. The asphalt ripped along the building, as the parking lot was sinking between 50-100 cm (20-40 inches). To solve this, they had to use light weight materials to fill up. If they would have used stones, they would just increase the sinking rate.
Johnnie Chang
Johnnie Chang 3 aylar önce
I wonder what would have happened to a tall building during a strong earthquake when it is standing on water logged soil?
jaewok Aylar önce
probably nothing … it'll be fine.
Bill Mancini
Bill Mancini Aylar önce
It’s called liquefaction...disasterous
Michael D
Michael D Aylar önce
@jaewok If they were unable to predict how much this tower would start to tilt in static circumstances and repair attempts how on Earth would they know about the results from the entirely unpredictable movements of unknown intensity in an Earthquake.
Hypsyzygy Aylar önce
Vibrating waterlogged soil tends to make it behave like quicksand. Not ideal for anything sitting on it.
Zack Antonio
Zack Antonio 24 gün önce
I imagine that once the soil liquefies the building will implode. Supports are into bedrock on one side and an opposing corner, leaving the middle supported on old bay mud. Hopefully it only takes itself out and doesn't have too much collateral damage.
Kelandry Yemrot
Kelandry Yemrot 2 aylar önce
I had a nightmare as a kid where my house was sinking.... You talking about your townhouse worries me a little because, on the second floor in front, everything rolls to one side. A cabinet without a magnet to hold the door closed had to be faced the other direction to prevent the doors from staying open lol. We have cracks in the walls and the doors for the front rooms are all messed up. Not quite as bad as this tower though. I don't think I'd have the guts to live in a TOWER like that. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.... Not a comforting quote to remember 🤣😅I wouldn't trust it.
John H
John H Aylar önce
Watched this again. The pics of lower level walls cracking and paint peeling are symptomatic. At best, a little spalling, just paint peeling. At worst, BIG problems.. That the building owner/management didn't even try to remedy these seemingly superficial problems just indicates the complexity of this issue, and the unwillingness for anyone to step up and admit responsibility. My advice to current residents: you probably have another home(s) elsewhere, go live there before it's too late. Let your lawyers duke it out in the meantime.
xi kano
xi kano 3 aylar önce
That really bites that they didn't take taking it down to bedrock from the very beginning into account. Making corrections after the fact is 'no bueno', may as well, close shop. Man up, Design Team, this is why you get paid the big bucks! We can not put a price on human safety, seriously! Well done, Ashley! 👏🏽
Armament Armed Arm
Armament Armed Arm Aylar önce
Prices are put on human safety every day
Seth Myers
Seth Myers Aylar önce
Also, are the buildings nearby at risk of the building falling on them? What about people walking around the base of the building. There could be death even if no one is inside the building.
Dustin T Seloover
Dustin T Seloover 27 gün önce
As for the building’s vulnerability in the event of an earthquake, the tilt is only part of the issue. The fact that its foundation only goes down to clay (at least the part that isn’t being shored up by rods) plays an enormous factor in terms of the overall performance of the structure during any seismic event. Even with the shoring system in place, I very much question the building’s viability long-term, as well as the system’s own performance during seismic movement. I don’t know anything about the math they’re using, but the sheer weight of the building plus the powerful forces from an earthquake surely would put both immediate and excessive force on those piers, as well as the entire system they are now a part of - to such an extent that it makes sense that the entire pier system would surely fail. If you want one good example of a skyscraper’s performance during powerful seismic activity, look no further than the Japan earthquake of 2011 which was a whopping *9.0* magnitude. To my knowledge, not even one of those skyscrapers fell to the ground. This was due to the competence of Japanese structural engineers who understood building tectonics, and knew to design for powerful earthquakes. The original plans for the Millennium Tower called for a much lighter structure which, in theory, did not require going all the way down to bedrock. The high tech lighter structure was going to cost more than its developers wanted, so the structural “recipe,” if you will, was changed to employ more conventional materials, which, as it turns out, would be significantly heavier than the higher-tech materials originally planned for. A bedrock foundation would prove more expensive than the foundation that was deemed suitable for the lighter structure, so SOMEHOW, SOME WAY, SOMEONE decided the shallower foundation would make due for the heavier structure. It doesn’t take a structural engineer to figure out that this is positive lunacy, and a recipe for disaster. At the risk of stating the obvious, I think the entire project ultimately fell victim to M.O.N.E.Y. The bean counters got their way, and now we have a fix in the works that comes at a gargantuan cost - that is, significantly more than it would have cost just to have the foundation system go all the way down to bedrock. The soil study alone should have told them immediately that the foundation they wanted to go with was completely inadequate. I just hope this so-called “fix” they’re scrambling to employ doesn’t end up costing lives. This entire fiasco was so totally avoidable…
Alistair McElwee
Alistair McElwee 3 aylar önce
Good recap but I would point out that plans for the development of the transit station next door were being debated for the last couple of decades, and then approvals were under consideration before the Millennial Tower. The who area has been underdevelopment since the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 did so much damage and caused the clearing of the old freeway system that was previously on that site. Thus, anyone building in that area should understand that there will be excavations near every site. Should the transit people have known that what the city approved for the Millennium was not what the City approved? Should transit have known that the Millennium developers would cut corners with the foundations when other buildings have foundations going to bedrock? How much is anyone development responsible for modifying their own development if the next door development develops problems that their poor design should never have allowed to be problems in the first place? And we all wonder, if there is a big earthquake here, even more than the Loma Prieta was, what would the Millennium fall into? It is surrounded by high rises.
Architecture with Ashley
Thanks Alistair, these are great points.
Clem 2 aylar önce
Great video. I am currently writing a script for a soil settlement video and I came across your vid whilst doing my research.
Robert Dodd
Robert Dodd 3 aylar önce
Ashley, I live hee in SF - you make the best explanation I've seen in YEARS.
Architecture with Ashley
Thank you Robert!
John H
John H Aylar önce
A good video. Not too technical, covers a thought-out range of issues. I enjoyed it.
Architecture with Ashley
thank you John!
Robert Dodd
Robert Dodd 3 aylar önce
Also, I was here in Embarcadero West during the earthquake - and I worked before in the Fremont tower cross corner, what about an earthquake dropping the whole building?
altArch 4 aylar önce
Great video! I just found your channel and I am really enjoying the content. SF is the hot topic right now it seems!😄
Architecture with Ashley
Hi altArch! Happy to have you here 😀 It is, I was fascinated by the project and all the issues.
Rob Schwartz Coaching
Rob Schwartz Coaching 4 aylar önce
Great point about the city taking responsibility. It also shows that we can build to code and still run into unforeseen issues.
Bruno Desrosiers
Bruno Desrosiers 2 aylar önce
This situation goes WAY beyond Codes and the idea that the City is in anyway responsible for this goes against all legal notions that I have observed professionally, thus far. Who did the geotechnical/established the parameters for it? Who analyzed the data and, knowing the history of this site, determined the safety coefficients? Those people (professionals) are closer to the cause of this than others involved in this.
Frank Beans
Frank Beans Aylar önce
They did not build to code. The "talked" Gavin Newsome and the Board of Supervisors to grant them a waver. The rumor was they were very expensive talks. So glad I moved out of SF.
Kuya ARCHITECT 2 aylar önce
I'm kind of surprised your Channel is sill underrated. You have great contents on design and Architecture. Very informative. New subscriber here. 😀
Architecture with Ashley
thank you Kuya for becoming apart of the community and for the kind words 🧡
Arafat Farsani
Arafat Farsani 4 aylar önce
I like the part when you said that everyone in this project is pointing the blame to each other... 😂This is my usual day today in our construction projects... 😅 I Think there is a big question mark for the result of the soil investigation report in this project that lead to this foundation design..!!!
Architecture with Ashley
Hi Arafat! Right 😂Definitely a big question mark on the soil investigation. Just out of curiosity, what type of construction projects do you work on?
cdreid9999 Aylar önce
It is the original engineers and this new engineering firm. Stunning incompetance. Theres an engineer on youtube covering it very well
Bobby Fhet
Bobby Fhet Aylar önce
The San Onofre failure suffered from finger pointing also. The thing almost blew up while superheated. Ineptness for profits is a crime. They bought off the prosecution.
salt6 Aylar önce
An engineer has posted a video on the design of the support pilings. He is concerned that the pilings will not be able to support the load that will be placed on them.
Shyenne 4 aylar önce
Wow great video!! I always learn so much from your videos such thorough research and very insightful. Next time I'm going to pay attention to my parking lot walls and make sure their are no cracks. You can never be too careful!
Cayrick Pan
Cayrick Pan Aylar önce
THIS IS HOW THE MILLENNIUM TOWER HAPPENED In mid-2004, the Department of Building Inspection took the extraordinary step of ordering construction halted on a 52-story project at 80 Natoma St. because the building would be unstable with the as planned foundation on the clay and sand soil of South of Market. The then head of the building inspection department, Frank Y. Chiu, said in a legal declaration in October 2004 that he ordered a work stoppage in light of their experts’ warnings that the 80 Natoma St. project would sink far more than the geotechnical designers estimated. At this point in time, The Millennium Tower is still on the drawing board and has the exact same foundation designed by the exact same geotechnical firm - Treadwell and Rollo - that designed the much much lighter 80 Natoma St. project that was just shut down by the Department of Building Inspection for having an inadequate foundation. Treadwell and Rollo are now undeniably aware that their foundation as planned for the Millennium Tower is inadequate and that it will be rejected by the Department of Building Inspection so they simply did not submit it for review and let construction begin. It is of record and is undeniable. This is what happened and it can be easily fact-checked by anybody, everything else that is being thrown around including the kitchen sink is I suspect an intentional distraction from what is a simple truth
Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell Aylar önce
Ignoring the huge safety concerns, imagine how embarrassed those wealthy people are to utter, "I live in the Millennium Tower." This is an engineering nightmare, and a lawyer's dream come true.
Don Carlo di Vargas
Back in 2014 I sold my apartment in a 'cheap' building for divorced people and others with little money, and one of the interested parties was a father of his son probably getting his own place, and that father had probably seen a TRvid video like this, because he asked me one million questions about the structure of the building, if there were cracks anywhere and stuff like that, as if I could answer those questions, pretty ridiculous, anyhow, fun fact, the building was made as some kind of development of a new technology, where everything was concrete, and in another apartment someone suffering from schizophrenia had bought a can of petrol, poured it out in the apartment, lit it on fire and left, the fire department had almost not managed to stop the fire so they had pumped tons of water into the building, and all the water ended up in the basement, the result was the whole building "raised" or something, my doors did not open or shut properly during this, (something I solved by putting spacers into the hinches to lift the doors, when the building settled again I removed the spacers), pretty clever, anyhow, even with buildings made by concrete there can be issues
Frank Beans
Frank Beans Aylar önce
I lived in SF back in the time thry were "getting" this plan approved. Gavin and the board finally approved it and many rumors of what that cost the developers. We all knew that the shallow foundation was a scam. And guess what? It was a scam...
Daniel Plainview
Daniel Plainview 4 aylar önce
I've read comments from people who worked on the project and said they knew very early into the project that this would be a problem. Perhaps it was too expensive to add deeper pylons down to the bedrock?
Jordan Aylar önce
It would have added about 15%. They took a risk and cheaped out. They lost.
Scott Kirby
Scott Kirby Aylar önce
What happened was that a building across the way from them was debating about drilling to bedrock and the city offered to help they pay to do it as the city was about to start a large construction dig (right between the towers in question) and the city was worried the dig would mess with that buildings foundation during construction....well the Millennium Tower guys wanted the same bonus but if they had to go down to bedrock anyway they wouldn't be eligible..so they came up with a solution where the friction piles basically acted as a pad they are so close together but got them an okay...and when the city said Millennium tower had to pay for itself suddenly they plan that was mostly posturing BS was still okayed by an engineer and was cheaper so they ran with it.
Just Askin'!
Just Askin'! Aylar önce
"Perhaps it was too expensive to add deeper pylons down to the bedrock?" So a total loss of the project is somehow "less expensive" than doing it right at a higher cost? No way. This was incompetence.
James T
James T 20 gün önce
Hi Ashley! How are you? I see you hadn't made any recent videos lately. Perhaps I can give you some inspiration or something.... You should do a video on the Nightmare of Toronto 's Unsafe Government Building, Explained 😛: The Whitney Block Tower Ontario government building that has been abandoned since the 1960s.
Architecture with Ashley
Hi James, thanks for checking-in. Its been busy and I was also traveling along with working on the last video which took some time to produce but its finally done! Let me know your thoughts. Also, appreciate the ideas! very interesting buildings I'll have to look into the Whitney Block Tower. Thank you!
Yashar 3 aylar önce
Very nice explanation. Thanx!
Rayster 3 aylar önce
The problem is a direct result of not anchoring the building to bed-rock. The excessive water pumping issue wouldn't even exist if the structure was of proven design and construction. Obviously, monetary concerns were more important than established construction methods. The leaning nightmare will get worse over time. Demolition of the building should start immediately.
MplsMark 3 aylar önce
I too am pessimistic of the future of this building. Perhaps these guys are just trying to pass the buck and keep it standing as long as they are alive. I my uneducated opinion, the thing is going to be a total loss and it will be years of fighting it out in court, the city county and or state will be left footing the bill. Privatized gains, socialized losses.
Jp Palm
Jp Palm Aylar önce
She's worried about elevators. Pipes bursting, window cracking, walls leaking, floors buckling, electric power lines potential fire and grounding.
jaewok Aylar önce
you keep saying "I trust the people who built …etc " and I recall that at some point it was imparted on to me to trust no one with my life but me and even then, not completely. as an example, everyone trusted the designers, engineers, builders and crew of the Titanic and it was the only builders who were safe at home when she sank. I'm betting on "drain water out of the other side so that it's at least level if shorter than intended" as the penultimate solution.
ben graham
ben graham 3 aylar önce
.. a general summary of other news and engineering reports which indicates the soil was inadequate to support a heavy building without piers reaching bedrock, that asymmetric foundation walls associated with the parking garage anchor zones of the building in such a way that settling occurs unevenly. The remedial piers have displaced soil and increased the tilt with little if any stabilization. Leave the commentary to the engineers that have been ignored throughout this process and follow the money Ashley.
Bigrad Wolf
Bigrad Wolf 2 aylar önce
They got lucky it is not tilting to another residential. Otherwise it could start a domino effect.
B Aylar önce
Risk assessment. Understand the upsides, the downsides, and their probabilities.
Kevin Kouadio
Kevin Kouadio 3 aylar önce
Hi I’m an undergraduate international student who wants to apply for the architecture program in UBC but I find it difficult.
ChrisNVegas 3 aylar önce
I don't believe the building is safe when local seismic activity is taken into account. What happens when (not if) a 7.0 earthquake shakes San Francisco? Liquefaction can make it worse.
Overseer Of Yahweh
Overseer Of Yahweh Aylar önce
I wonder how much the building contractor paid her for this video.
Ma Chris
Ma Chris 4 aylar önce
I love your efforts on this channel ❤
Architecture with Ashley
Thank you Ma 🧡
Bruno Desrosiers
Bruno Desrosiers 2 aylar önce
The idea that the City is in anyway responsible for this goes against all fundamental principles of the Economic Theory of Law. Imagine how reckless all actors in the design of any construction requiring a permit are invited to become from the moment they learn they can transfer their liability to the body that ultimately gives a green light to start digging. Who did the geotechnical/established the parameters for it? Who analyzed the data and, knowing the history of this site, determined the safety coefficients? Those professionals are closer to the core of causes that led this building being in this situation.
AlexT Aylar önce
58 stories? Here in NYC, we call that baby stuff. We got buildings that'll make you dizzy. We knock 50-story buildings down when we get sick of looking at them. Knock it down and rebuild it. And this time put some effort into it and stop fooling around.
Mateo tincopa
Mateo tincopa Aylar önce
builders were very irresponsible and the city officials that approved the project without foundations on bedrock are to blame as well... now it´s total loss... it should be demolished...
Mach One
Mach One 3 aylar önce
One of the engineers forgot to carry the 3.
Just Askin'!
Just Askin'! Aylar önce
That's not it. They didn't even do the calculation in the first place.
WayneS World
WayneS World 3 aylar önce
God protect us from architects. Even Wright screws up on structural integrity.
Michael Marks
Michael Marks 3 aylar önce
Let's say Ron Hamburger knew for a fact that a magnitude 8.3 earthquake was hitting San Fancisco in 3 minutes and he was located in the lobby of the Millennium Tower. Do you suppose he will stay in his safe, safe building, or will he run as fast and far away from it as he can? Stated another way, is the man sincere in his insistence? I think not. The people declaring that building is safe are the same ones who designed, built, and approved the project in the first place. These people should not be in the position to make decisions about the triage to keep the thing from falling down. They do not have the credibility to be putting out confident statements of safety.
pete ormond
pete ormond 12 gün önce
It's sructurally sound but the foundation walls have extreme structural cracks - Huh ? I woulda thought severe structural cracks would also expose the reinforcing to corrosion leading to further structural faults, leading to worsening the severity of the structural cracking - and on and on. Drop the building, and turn the lot into an area for a tent city for hundreds and pay them reparations (5 million $ each) to let them buy better tents with airconditioning, perhaps ?
Clay Coates
Clay Coates 2 aylar önce
To answer the ALL IMPORTANT QUESTION is it safe NO here is the proof have the designers and the engineers that built the thing move in with out the possibility of moving out until it is fixed Ill bet that they want nothing to go with what at this point the best thing to do is to dismantle the building and then may be start over Or not they can wait for it to fall on its own and this will happen soon then they can pick up the peaces and pay for the losses then and i thing that will be more then starting over
Jordan Aylar önce
Building Integrity a structural engineer on TRvid has followed this and done a series including his recent report that suggests a major flaw in their so called fix that could result in a cascade failure of the fix although it's unlikely to topple. It will increase it's tilt from the current 29" tilt exceeds 40" the gravity fed sewage will stop flowing and it will be vacated and disassembled. Its built on landfill. Hamburger is full of it.
Just Askin'!
Just Askin'! Aylar önce
"Disassembled"? No way. It will be demolished, which will create pollution and toxic fallout. But that's okay, because demolishing it would be the right thing to do.
Jordan 25 gün önce
@Just Askin'! What I meant. Disassembled or demolished. All better then as Musk puts it RUD or Rapid Unintended Disassembly when a rocket blows up.
Pbkk 3 aylar önce
Arrrh, I would not live there if people pay me. lol
Jp Palm
Jp Palm Aylar önce
Bobby Chang
Bobby Chang 4 aylar önce
In short, cutting corners have consequences.
K H 3 aylar önce
We needed more show and less talk in this report
Don Carlo di Vargas
Built in 2009, called "millennium" because?
Gerald Olvera
Gerald Olvera Aylar önce
Built by millennium partners …. What’s the problem lol
Don Carlo di Vargas
@Gerald Olvera - buildt by the millennium generation you mean?
Harry Truman
Harry Truman Aylar önce
i wonder how they are going to blame the homeless or trump or global warming for this one.
spider 543 spider 543
Vibrate the other side.
Bobby Fhet
Bobby Fhet Aylar önce
TIMBER.. !!!!
Catherine 3 aylar önce
You better get King Kong 😂😂😂😂😂🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌🚩🚩🚩🚩🍌🍌🍌
arribafication wineho
They cheaped out. That is all that matters
Zack Antonio
Zack Antonio 24 gün önce
Not exactly. The idiots that San Francisco pays a fortune to enforce building codes allowed it as well. They all claimed they weren't qualified to second guess the engineers. The fortune that is spent to get plans past city designers has been proven to be an expensive rubber stamp scheme.
arribafication wineho
arribafication wineho 24 gün önce
@Zack Antonio the builders most definitely cheaped out by not drilling deeply enough
Zack Antonio
Zack Antonio 24 gün önce
@arribafication wineho The original plans were for a much lighter steel building, which still in my opinion would have been good to anchor to the bedrock. When they changed it to concrete the foundation was not inspected or reassessed. It would have cost less than ten million dollars to anchor it correctly. Worse yet, the vaults that are used for attaching the new piles are distributing over a million pounds of force per vault which is ultimately held by two small steel plates. There's a good video on the , should be easy to find in a search. I was rooting for the engineers to win this battle, however, it appears to many that this building is counting the days until it's a total loss. I just hope they take it down before it kills someone.
arribafication wineho
arribafication wineho 24 gün önce
@Zack Antonio interesting and thank you. I would assume concrete, while lighter, would not be great for a high rise in a quake zone? I agree abt taking that building down. I am sure neighbors agree
Zack Antonio
Zack Antonio 24 gün önce
@arribafication wineho Concrete buildings are heavier than steel buildings. Although concrete is lighter by volume, steel buildings need less supports. The Millenium Tower is the third heaviest building in the city.
Ronald Barrett
Ronald Barrett Gün önce
An architect who is not an engineer, should be very cautious about expressing technical opinions. This post is not a worthy post, unless one wants to just hear prattle about a really serious problem.
patrick walsh
patrick walsh Aylar önce
Gotta quit the sign language. It’s distracting and nonsensical.
John VR
John VR 25 gün önce
Nonsense, the building is flawed. Just a matter of time!
Catherine 3 aylar önce
It's this building follow me I don't want for King 🍌🍌🍌🍌🍌😂
Catherine 3 aylar önce
Is this building following me 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🚩🍌🍌🍌
Just Askin'!
Just Askin'! Aylar önce
No. But when you hear that same song by The GoGos at everyplace you go this weekend? Then yes. Yes, the GoGos are following you.
Larry Pahl
Larry Pahl 2 aylar önce
John H
John H Aylar önce
Go make your own vid. See if anyone watches it at all.
Herefor Thechips
Herefor Thechips Aylar önce
I like her hands. She does stuff with them.
Larry Pahl
Larry Pahl 2 aylar önce
entire valid data stream @ 2:45-2:49; balance of video is sophomoric egoism with violent arm flailings
Bigrad Wolf
Bigrad Wolf 2 aylar önce
There ought to be a building code dispersing obese residents equally around the condo.
WW2 remembered
WW2 remembered 3 aylar önce
OMG!! We're all gonna die!!!
Clay Coates
Clay Coates 2 aylar önce
cityman1111 3 aylar önce
I wouldn't live in that building if it were free.