Pentagon Says KBR Deserves to be Paid

Following a Pentagon audit, the U.S. Army has decided to pay engineering firm Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) nearly all of the money-about $2 billion-the firm says it is owed as part of a multi-billion contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in war-torn Iraq.

The federal government’s contract with the firm has been under scrutiny since 2003, particularly from Congressional democrats who said KBR was unfairly chosen because of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former affiliation with the firm’s parent company Halliburton.

However, in its audit of the fees KBR charged the U.S. Army for its services, the Pentagon concludes that in the haste and peril of war, the firm did as well as it could. And in a released statement, KBR spokesperson Cathy Mann said: “Once all the facts were fully examined, it is clear, and now confirmed, that KBR performed this work appropriately per the client’s direction and within the contract terms.”

Autodesk Acquires Georgia Software Developer

Autodesk Inc. (San Rafael, Calif.) has agreed to acquire Constructware (Alpharetta, Ga.), a 65-person software developer that focuses on web-based, construction-oriented collaboration services. Autodesk plans to combine its web-based design and project management service, Autodesk Buzzsaw, with its Constructware counterpart.

For the near future, Constructware will continue operations and retain most of its staff. The company had a strong 2005, with sales up 70 percent compared with 2004 and a 250-percent increase in new business. Autodesk Buzzsaw has more than 137,000 users while Constructware has more than 29,000 users. Autodesk expects to close the deal in 30 to 60 days, but already has received approval from its board of directors. No decision has been made yet regarding the Autodesk and Constructware brands. They will both be maintained for the time being. Constructware was founded in 1994.

Is China the Future of Sustainable Development?

Engineering and consulting firm Arup is developing what it calls the world’s first sustainable city. To be located near Shanghai on the third-largest island in China, the 34-square-mile Dongtan is one of China’s first large-scale projects that is meant to symbolize the country’s determination to clean up its environmental record and slow its relatively uncontrolled growth.

The first phase of Dongtan is expected to be completed by 2010, with the entire development scheduled to open in 2020. The project will be divided into three villages, each with its own residential and commercial properties as well as its own schools. Additionally, the island will remain about 40 percent agricultural and therefore self-sustaining.

Arup says that included in the sustainable design are public transportation; energy-efficient buildings powered by wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and converted waste; and it all will be constructed using as many organic and biodegradable materials as possible. Further, only alternative fuel vehicles will be used on the island.

Purdue University tests earthquake susceptibility

Civil engineers at Purdue University are using a specialized laboratory to test a 32-foot-tall structure to determine the susceptibility of aging military buildings to earthquake damage.

New law increases cap on worker visa programs

President Bush signed the Omnibus Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2005, which contains provisions affecting the H-1B and L-1 visa categories.

Five new pedestrian bridges to be built near Lake Michigan

In an effort to remain pedestrian-friendly, and to stay architecturally significant, the city of Chicago is holding a bridge design competition to replace five structures across historic Lake Shore Drive: single spans at 53rd Street, the Chicago River, and North Avenue; and a pair of bridges - to be considered as one proposal - at 41st and 43rd Streets.

Parking in style

Kansas City's Country Club Plaza is a historic 14-block district featuring more than 120 stores and 30 restaurants and cafes, as well as a residential community. The ornamental architectural detail of the complex is a Spanish motif, with stucco buildings and red tile roofs.

Design flaws did not lead to WTC collapse

WASHINGTON—In late October, the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released the latest findings from the investigation into the WTC disaster.

Green building completed in District of Columbia

WASHINGTON -- In late October, the National Association of Realtors© (NAR) opened its new headquarters, which is described as "Washington, D.C.'s most environmentally friendly advanced commercial building." The Falls Church, Va.-based firm of Fernandez & Associates served as structural engineer on the project, which is expected to be the first newly constructed building in the District of Columbia to earn LEED© certification.

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