Feats of engineering are essential to our modern way of life. Since humans stopped living a nomadic existence and started building shelters, there has been a need to design and implement projects to aid and improve the human condition. Examples of past engineering achievements are the Pyramids of Egypt and the aqueducts in Rome. The American Society of Civil Engineers put together a list celebrating the top seven architectural and engineering feats in the modern world. The list contains man-made projects such as buildings, bridges, roads, canals, and dams. To make the list, these extraordinary achievements have to be awesome in scope and design, benefit the betterment of humanity, and serve as examples of humans overcoming spectacular challenges. Additional requirements to making the list are that achievements have to be completed and fully operational. The group enlisted submissions from other civil engineers and experts from around the world giving an international perspective to the list and ensuring that no possible achievements are left out.
The Seven Wonders of the Modern World
Channel Tunnel: The Channel tunnel otherwise known as the Chunnel is an underground tunnel about 32 miles long connecting the United Kingdom with northern France. It has the longest undersea portion of any other tunnel in the world and at its deepest point is 246ft deep. The tunnel allows for high speed passenger trains, freight trains and Roll on/Roll off vehicle transport trains to rapidly move people and cargo back and forth between the United Kingdom and France.
CN Tower: The CN Tower in downtown Toronto, Canada is considered the world’s tallest freestanding structure. It is 1815 feet tall and serves as an observation deck and communications tower for the city. It contains two visitor areas, two dining establishments, and an observation deck with a glass floor. One restaurant called the 360 restaurant is 346 meters high and completes a full rotation every 72 minutes.
Empire State Building: Considered the world’s tallest building between the years 1931 to 1972 is the Empire State Building standing at 102 stories tall. After construction commenced, it took 410 days to complete and was officially opened May 1, 1931. The building is currently going through a $550 million renovation and will become more eco-friendly and energy efficient.
Golden Gate Bridge: When completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The bridge connects the northern tip of San Francisco to Marion County and spans a total of 1.7 miles. The bridge has six lanes and is 90 feet wide and at its tallest point is 746 feet tall.
Itaipu Dam: The Itaipu Dam is largest working hydroelectric power plant in its generating capacity. It is located on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. In 2008, the dam produced a record amount of energy and was responsible for 90% of power for Paraguay and 19% for Brazil. The dam took 50 million tons of rock and earth to build and in doing so changed the course of the seventh largest river in the world.
Delta Works: The Delta Works are a number of structures built to keep the coastline of the Netherlands from flooding. The purpose of all the sluices, dams, and storm surge barriers put into place was to shorten the coastline which would reduce the number of dikes that had to be used. Many people in Holland are subjected to floods that cause major damage and loss of life. Because of the Delta Works, much of this damage can be reduced, possibly eliminated. The total project took almost fifty years to complete. Due to global warming, enhancements to the Delta Works will have to be made in the future.
Panama Canal: The Panama Canal is one of the largest most difficult engineering feats ever to have been built in the world. Its primary intention is to shorten the distance of travel for trading vessels between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans saving time, money, and the heartache of traveling around the southern tip of South America. It’s about fifty miles long and takes about 8-10 hours to travel the total distance. Since being built, the canal has been considered a success and continues to be a vital aspect to world trade, carrying more cargo than ever before.