Mexican Bank Builds Branch in the Middle of Nowhere

Photos and videos of a functional Banco del Bienestar branch seemingly located in the middle of nowhere have been getting a lot of attention on Mexican social media this week.

Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador was one of the very first people to get blamed for wasting government money on useless buildings after the photos and videos of a Banco del Bienestar branch located a long way from any human settlement, somewhere in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The building was used to mock Obrador’s “Fourth Transformation” of Mexico initiative, but a representative of the bank was quick to explain that although bizarre, the location of the branch actually makes sense.

Mario Saldaña, a representative of Banco del Bienestar, told RID Noticias that initially the new branch was supposed to be built in a more central area of Nuevo Casas Grandes, a small municipality in Chihuahua, but Mayor Héctor Mario Galaz refused to provide a plot of land for construction, so the bank had no choice but to accept a piece of land donated by the Mexican Army.

The bank representative added that if they did not act fast, they would have had to wait for the third or fourth stage of the Fourth Transformation project, which meant that people in the Nuevo Casas Grandes area would not have had access to a bank for their everyday needs until next year at the earliest.

Apparently, most of the beneficiaries of the social programs carried out through the Banco del Bienestar only need about 20 minutes to reach the unique branch, despite it being located a long way from town.

The building and the parking lot in front of it were completed this summer, but the branch is not yet operational, because the furniture, computers and other equipment are missing. However, Mario Saldaña said that he expects to be fully operational by the beginning of October.

Although the current location of the Banco del Bienestar was not the first option, the bank representative assured reporters that the route will be viable for beneficiaries who do not have their own cars, because public transport drops them off 100 meters from the branch.

The Banco del Bienestar was founded in July 2019, after the intention of President López Obrador to replace the Banco del Ahorro Nacional y Servicios Financieros.

Chicago workers remake the iconic ‟lunch atop the skyscraper” photo from 1932

Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam) is a photograph taken atop the steelwork of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, during the construction of the Rockefeller Center, in Manhattan, New York City, United States.

The photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 840 feet (260 meters) above the New York City streets. The photograph was taken on September 20, 1932, on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of construction. According to archivists, the photograph was in fact prearranged. Although the photograph shows real ironworkers, it is believed that the moment was staged by Rockefeller Center to promote its new skyscraper. Other photographs taken on the same day show some of the workers throwing a football and pretending to sleep on the girder. The photo appeared in the Sunday photo supplement of the New York Herald Tribune on October 2, 1932.

 

Floating Cities of the Future

The Seascraper

Illustration by William Erwin and Dan Fletcher, eVolo

Touted as an eco-friendly floating city, the Seascraper (pictured in an artist’s conception) is among a raft of concepts for  sustainable offshore settlements. With more than seven billion people on  the planet, mass migrations to cities, and increased risks of flooding  and sea level rise, more and more architects and innovators seem to be  weighing anchor.

 

 

Waterscraper

Illustration by Mathias Koester, eVolo

With only its stabilizing floating ring and transparent dome protruding above the sea, the Waterscraper is envisioned as a tubelike underwater residence and lab—all designed to withstand crushing water pressures.

Natural  light would filter down from the dome as the Waterscraper drifts from  one destination to the next. Beaches, restaurants, a marina, and a dive  center would cater to luxury-apartment dwellers and hotel guests.

Concepts like the Waterscraper are being touted as potential solutions to the planet’s urban population pressures.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs,  half of humanity currently calls an urban area home. And before we  reach 2050, India’s cities will grow by 497 million people, China’s by  341 million, Nigeria’s by 200 million, and the United States’ by 103  million.

 

 

Oil Rig Reimagined

Illustration by YoungWan Kim/SueHwan Kwun/JunYoung Park/JoongHa Park, eVolo

The Water Circles concept would convert old oil platforms into water-treatment plants  that transform saltwater into fresh water. Remaining fossil fuel  extraction infrastructure would be used to channel seawater into the  floating desalination plant.

Spherical  modules would distill saltwater and store fresh water bound for  water-poor countries. The old oil rigs would also house researchers and  sustain on-site food production, according to the South Korea-based  design team.

 

 

Floating Cruise Ship Terminal

Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius and Dutch Docklands

This  5-million-square-foot (490,000-square-meter) floating cruise-ship  terminal could host three large vessels while providing passengers a  novel offshore experience, complete with open-ocean hotel stays,  shopping, and dining, according to designers.

An  inner “harbor” would allow smaller vessels to dock and would provide  natural light for the interior of the terminal. Ten percent of the roof  would be covered in photovoltaic cells that harvest solar power,  according to Dutch architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.NL.

The  terminal is just a vision now, but Olthuis’s firm, which is committed  to buildings that both adapt to and combat the challenges presented by  climate change and sea level rise, has made other floating fantasies  come to life.

Waterstudio.NL,  based in the Netherlands, has worked on a floating city near The Hague  and has started projects in the Maldives, China, and the United Arab  Emirates.

 

 

The Citadel

Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius

Scheduled  for completion in 2014, the Citadel could be Europe’s first floating  apartment building, according to architect Koen Olthuis of Waterstudio.NL.  The 60-unit complex is to be built in the Dutch city of Westland, near  The Hague, and is meant to protect people from flooding in a country  that sits, to a large degree, below sea level.

Holland  is home to more than 3,500 inland depressions, which can fill with  water when it rains, when tides come in, or as seas rise overall. These  so-called polders are often drained by pumps to protect residents.

Floating  single-family homes are not uncommon in this soggy country, but the  Citadel—to be built on a flooded polder—will be the first high-density  floating residential development. The complex’s floating concrete  foundation will be connected to higher ground via a floating road.

Olthuis  predicts the Citadel—and its five planned neighbors—will consume 25  percent less energy over its life span than a conventional building.

 

 

Green Sea Star

Illustration courtesy Koen Olthius

Slated to open in 2014, the Greenstar is to be a floating hotel and conference center off the Maldives in the  Indian Ocean. The island nation is the world’s lowest-lying country,  making it among the most threatened by anticipated climate  change-induced sea level rise.

Designed  by Waterstudio.NL to blend in with its ocean surroundings, the  Greenstar will have room for 800 overnight guests and 2,000 conference  attendees.

Intended  to be highly efficient, the development’s small environmental footprint  is a tribute to the country’s determination to fight global warming,  according to Waterstudio.NL architects. Appropriately enough, organizers  intend the Greenstar to be the number one meeting place for global  climate change discussions.

Nordstrom Tower

Central Park Tower, also known as the Nordstrom Tower, is a residential supertall skyscraper being developed by Extell Development Company and Shanghai Municipal Investment Group along Billionaires’ Row on 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, the building rises 1,550 feet (472 m) and is the second-tallest skyscraper in the United States and the Western Hemisphere, the 15th tallest building in the world, the tallest residential building in the world (the much taller Burj Khalifa in Dubai has 900 residential units, but is mixed-use), and the tallest building outside Asia by roof height.

Above: the US Air Force Thunderbirds and US Navy Blue Angels air demonstration teams flying over NYC.

Artist rendering of the completed building.

 

King Alfred’s Tower

King Alfred’s Tower, also known as The Folly of King Alfred the Great or Stourton Tower, is a folly tower. It is in the parish of Brewham in the English county of Somerset, and was built as part of the Stourhead estate and landscape. The tower stands on Kingsettle Hill and belongs to the National Trust. It is designated as a grade I listed building.

Henry Hoare II planned the tower in the 1760s to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War against France and the accession of King George III near the location of ‘Egbert’s Stone’ where it is believed that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in May 878 before the important Battle of Edington. The tower was damaged by a plane in 1944 and restored in the 1980s.

The 49-metre-high (161 ft) triangular tower has a hollow centre and is climbed by means of a spiral staircase in one of the corner projections. It includes a statue of King Alfred and dedication inscription.

The tower stands near the location of ‘Egbert’s Stone’, where it was said that Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, rallied the Saxons in May 878 before the important Battle of Edington (historically known as the battle of Ethandun, where the Danish army, led by Guthrum the Old was defeated. It is the start of the Leland Trail, a 28-mile (45.1 km) footpath which runs from King Alfred’s Tower to Ham Hill Country Park.

The project to build the tower was conceived in 1762 by the banker Henry Hoare II (1705-1785). The tower was also intended to commemorate the end of the Seven Years’ War against France and the accession of King George III.

Alfred’s Tower is a monument to the genius of English landscape, many of whose loveliest haunts it commands, and to a man who certainly deserves to be remembered as among the great benefactors of the English scene. – Christopher Hussey, Country Life, 11 June 1938.
In 1765 Henry Flitcroft, a Palladian architect, designed the tower. Building began in 1769 or early 1770, and was completed in 1772 at an estimated cost between £5,000 and £6,000. There may have been some delay due to difficulty in obtaining the bricks. In addition to the commemorative function, the tower was also intended to serve as an eye-catching focus for those touring the parkland of the Stourhead Estate. In April 1770, when the tower was just 4.7 metres (15 ft) high, Hoare is quoted as saying: ‘I hope it will be finished in as happy Times to this Isle as Alfred finished his Life of Glory in then I shall depart in peace.’

The tower was damaged in 1944 when an aeroplane, a Noorduyn Norseman ironically, crashed into it, resulting in the death of the five aircrew and damage to the highest 10 metres (33 ft). It was designated as a Grade I listed building in 1961. The tower was restored in 1986, which included the use of a Wessex helicopter to lower a 300-kilogram (47 st) stone onto the top. The statue of King Alfred was also restored at this time, including the replacement of his missing right forearm.

The triangular tower is over 40 metres (131 ft) high with a girth of 51 metres (167 ft). Each of the three corners of the triangular structure has a round projection. The centre of the tower is hollow and to stop birds from entering the space a mesh has been added at roof level. The viewing platform, which has a crenellated parapet and offers a view over the surrounding countryside, is reached by a 205-step spiral staircase at the corner furthest from the entrance. The brick tower has Chilmark stone dressings and is surmounted by an embattled parapet.

The ‘front’ (south-east) face of the tower has a Gothic-arched entrance door, a statue of King Alfred, and a stone panel bearing an inscription (see below). This is the face that most visitors see first when walking from Stourhead garden or from the nearby car park.

The Empire State Building was constructed incredibly fast

The speed with which they built the Empire State Building, 1931

 

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The idea for the Empire State Building is said to have been born of a competition between Walter Chrysler of the Chrysler Corporation and John Jakob Raskob of General Motors, to see who could erect the taller building. Chrysler had already begun work on the famous Chrysler Building, the gleaming 1,046-foot skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. Not to be bested, Raskob assembled a group of well-known investors, including former New York Governor Alfred E. Smith. The group chose the architecture firm Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates to design the building. The Art-Deco plans is said to have been based in large part on the look of a pencil.

Despite the colossal size of the project, the design, planning and construction of the Empire State Building took just 20 months from start to finish. After demolishing the Waldorf-Astoria hotel—the plot’s previous occupant—contractors Starrett Brothers and Eken used an assembly line process to erect the new skyscraper in a brisk 410 days. Using as many as 3,400 men each day, they assembled its skeleton at a record pace of four and a half stories per week—so fast that the first 30 stories were completed before certain details of the ground floor were finalized. The Empire State Building was eventually finished ahead of schedule and under budget, but it also came with a human cost: at least five workers were killed during the construction process.

The new building imbued New York City with a deep sense of pride, desperately needed in the depths of the Great Depression, when many city residents were unemployed and prospects looked bleak. The grip of the Depression on New York’s economy was still evident a year later, however, when only 25 percent of the Empire State’s offices had been rented.

 

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During certain periods of building, the frame grew an astonishing four-and-a-half stories a week.

Chrysler Building 1932

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The Las Vegas Center for Brain Health

Mind-Bending Design

 

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The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (LRCBH), officially the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, opened on May 21, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada that is operated by the Cleveland Clinic and was designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.

 

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Keep Memory Alive (also known as KMA) was founded by Larry Ruvo, senior managing partner of Southern Wines and Spirits, in memory of his father, Lou Ruvo, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, together with his wife Camille, Mirage Resorts CEO Bobby Baldwin (who also lost his father to Alzheimer’s Disease), and Bobby Baldwin’s wife Donna. KMA supports the mission of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health and has held several star-studded galas, attended by celebrities and notables from around the world.

It has become one of Las Vegas’ most important charity initiatives and a key participant in the nation fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Since its inception, the event has raised more than $20 million towards achieving its goal – the realization of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Funds committed by such supporters as the Spector Family Foundation, the Roland and Terri Sturm Foundation, Steinberg Diagnostics, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and America Online will be utilized for the construction and operation of this state-of-the-art facility.

The Center is planned to become a national resource for the most current research and scientific information for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington ‘s Diseases, Multiple Sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) as well as focusing on prevention, early detection and education.

 

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The ceremonial groundbreaking of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health occurred on February 9, 2007.

The Center operates as an outpatient treatment and research facility in downtown Las Vegas on land deeded to Keep Memory Alive, the fund raising arm of LRCBH, by the City of Las Vegas as part of its 61 acres (25 ha) Symphony Park.

The Center is approximately 65,000 sq ft (6,000 m2) and includes 13 examination rooms, offices for health care practitioners and researchers, a “Museum of the Mind,” and a community auditorium. The Center will also serve as the headquarters for Keep Memory Alive, the Las Vegas Alzheimer’s Association and the Las Vegas Parkinson’s Disease Association.

 

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The research center for degenerative brain diseases is divided into two separate buildings connected by a courtyard. The first forms a jumble of swooping stainless-steel arcs and houses events spaces to rent. The second contains clinics and research facilities dedicated to preserving memory, and consists of white stacked boxes.

 

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The Five Most Inaccessible Monasteries in the World

Buddhist monasteries are usually located in remote places far from the hub-bub of cities and towns. It takes more than a mild determination to reach them, but some of these are decidedly inaccessible. The idea is to keep all but only the most dedicated followers from reaching these holy places, while they also make the monks feel like they were closer to God in a place of peace and solitude. Today, however, most of these monasteries are tourist attractions and in favor of the tourists, several accessible methods like ropeways and stairs have been added. They still look formidable and require hundreds of meters of vertical trekking.

Monasteries of Meteora, Greece

The Metéora (Greek for “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above”) is a group of six monasteries and one of the largest and most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece. The six monasteries, built on natural sandstone rock pillars, are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation and prayer.

 

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The monasteries are built on rock pinnacles of deltaic origin, known as Meteora, which rise starkly over 400 m above the Peneas valley and the small town of Kalambaka on the Thessalian plain. During the fearsome time of political instability in 14th century the monasteries were systematically built on top of the inaccessible peaks so that by the end of the 15th century there were 24 of them. They continued to flourish until the 17th century. Today, only four monasteries – Aghios Stephanos, Aghia Trias, Varlaam and Meteoron – still house religious communities.

Access to the monasteries was originally and deliberately difficult, requiring either long ladders lashed together or large nets used to haul up both goods and people. This required quite a leap of faith – the ropes were replaced, so the story goes, only “when the Lord let them break”. In the 1920s there was an improvement in the arrangements. Steps were cut into the rock, making the complex accessible via a bridge from the nearby plateau.

 

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Taung Kalat Monastery, Burma

The monastery of Taung Kalat is located on a top of a volcanic plug that rises 737 meters from the surrounding in central Burma (Myanmar) about 50 km southeast of Bagan, and near the extinct volcano Mount Popa. The monastery can be accessed by exactly 777 steps and those who reach the top are rewarded by a spectacular view.

To the north-west opens a view to distant temples of Bagan, and to the east is towering the forested Taung Ma-gyi summit. There is a big caldera, 610 metres wide and 914 metres in depth so that from different directions the mountain takes different forms with more than one peak. Many Macaque monkeys live here that have become a tourist attraction on Taung Kalat.

 

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Taktsang Palphug Monastery, Bhutan

Taktshang monastery, also known as The Tiger’s Nest, is located on a precipitous cliff about 900 metres above the Paro valley, in Bhutan. The rock slopes are very steep – almost vertical – and the monastery buildings are built into the rock face. Though it looks formidable, the monastery complex has access from several directions, such as the northwest path through the forest, from the south along the path used by devotees, and from the north. A mule track leading to it passes through pine forest that is colourfully festooned with moss and prayer flags. On many days, clouds shroud the monastery and give an eerie feeling of remoteness.

 

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Sümela Monastery

The Sumela Monastery is built into the rock cliffs of the Altmdere Valley in Turkey. At an altitude of about 1,200 metres it is a major tourist attraction of Altındere National Park.

The monastery was founded in 386 AD during the reign of the Emperor Theodosius I (375 – 395). Legend has it that two priests undertook its creation after discovering a miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a cave on the mountain. During its long history, the monastery fell into ruin several times and was restored by various emperors. It reached its present form in the 13th century after gaining prominence during the reign of Alexios III.

The monastery was abandoned after World War I and the start of the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey that forced some 2 million ethnic Greeks and Turks to leave their long-established communities in Turkey or Greece and return to their ethnic homelands. It lay empty for decades before being partially restored and returned to life as a museum.

 

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Hanging Monastery, China

The Hanging Monastery or Hanging Temple is located in a canyon at the foot of the Mountain Heng in the province of Shanxi, China. The temple is built into the cliff side about 75 meter above the ground, and stands propped up by hidden rocks corridor and wooden beams inserted into the mountain. Over 40 halls, cabinets and pavilions within an area of 152.5 square meters are connected each other by corridors, bridges and boardwalks. They are evenly distributed and well balanced in height. Inside the temple are more than 80 bronze cast statues, iron cast statues, and clay sculptured statues and stone carvings banded down from different dynasties.

The temple was build to avoid the terrible flood, and use the mountain as protection from rain, snow and sunshine. Today, it is one of the main tourist attractions and historical sites in the Datong area.

 

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