CSC 199 Assignment: Cost Estimation for Unprecedented Projects
You will be assigned one of the following projects. Your job is to make
a defensible estimate of the total cost and construction time required
to complete the project. Some of the projects are of an unprecendented
scale, but all are feasible using current technology.
In choosing between construction options, look to minimize the cost
without of course sacrificing safety or effective functionality.
Write a report describing how you arrived at your estimate, what the
uncertainties are, and what sources of information you used.
One important starting point is the cost of smaller-scale projects
of the same sort. You will need to document or closely argue the
scaling laws however, since they are generally very non-linear.
On this project you are to work independently.
Next class you will present and defend your estimates to the
class (3 minutes max). Also hand in your written report.
- Alternative to Rochester Fast Ferry I:
Sketch a design for and
make a defensible estimate of the cost of building a 4-lane bridge
across Lake Ontario (say from the end of Route 98 north of Hilton,
to Port Hope (in Ontario Canada). Note that no bridge of this scale
has ever been built, and that the depth of the lake is a significant
factor. Support structures (e.g. oil platforms) have been erected in water
deeper than you will encounter, so the technology exists.
Note you will need to do a little design work, trading off the cost of
long spans versus the cost of deep supports.
Note that a single span solution is far beyond the limits of existing
materials and engineering practices, so don't even go there.
- Alternative to Rochester Fast Ferry II:
Estimate the cost of a twin-track railroad tunnel under Lake Ontario
between approximately the same points as the bridge described above.
Note that you probably need to find out something about the geologic
structures under the lake in order to determine what sort of construction
and excavation is necessary. Tunneling machines work in certain sorts of
sediments, but not so well in granite. There are also options that involve
sinking and connecting pre-manufactured sections, eliminating tunneling
altogether. You would have to check if these are feasible at the depths
involved. The time estimate for this one is particularly important,
since it could be difficult (though not impossible) to parallelize
- Twin towers replacement:
Estimate the cost of constructing a 1-mile high office building in
lower Manhattan. Note that this is approximately 2 times the
height of the tallest existing office building (the Burj Khalifa
formerly Burj Dubai).
Designs for such structures actually exist. You may find some if
you look hard enough. You still need to carry out your own cost
analysis. The price on some such proposals I have seen seems suspect.
- Replication of the Great Pyramid at Giza:
Estimate the cost of duplicating the Great Pyramid in
Redmond Washington, using original materials, but modern construction
machinery where applicable.
Note that the sort of construction required is a bit different than
typical office tower construction, so you may need to think a little
bit about how the work would actually be accomplished.
Note also, that in this case, the materials (mostly limestone blocks)
and their transportation might be a significant proportion of the cost.
- Construction of a 2000 foot tall statue of Elvis:
Esimate the cost of erecting, in Las Vegas, a 2000 foot
statue of Elvis (with guitar) using construction similar to the Statue of
Liberty. The edifice should allow for visitors to be married on top, and
maybe a honeymoon suite or two, but need not be primarily habitable space.
For this project, you may neglect the cost of royalties to the
- Preserving Miami
Estimate the cost of constructing a levee/seawall capable of protecting the
greater Miami area from a 3m (10ft) rise in sea level. The areas to be
protected would include all locations lower than the new sea level plus
maximum likely storm surge. Would a walled-off Miami be marooned? or are
there elevated routes into the city?
- Trump Grand Vista Hotel
Estimate the cost of constructing, in near-earth orbit, a space station
with luxury accomodations for those in the 1% of the 1% with an interest
in being truly above it all. The station would be of a classic ring design,
rotating to produce artificial gravity for residential suites on the rim,
but with a large low-G core for weightless recreational activities.
The centrifugal gravity puts certain constraints on the size.
Rotation any faster than 1-2rpm will make many people seasick
(spacesick?) if they move around normally.
To get 1 gravity at <= 2 rpm requires a structure of 500m diameter
or larger (do the physics if you're interested)
So the Trump Grand Vista Hotel needs to be HUGE. To be specific, it has
a circumference of 1500m. Which with a few levels is basically the
square footage of a large cruise ship like the Queen Mary.
So as a lower bound, look at what it would cost to boost mass equivalent
to the Queen Mary into orbit. Then add labor costs...
- The Dome
Winter is coming, and soon we will all be cursing the snow,
or if not the snow, then the gloom. But wait. By simply constructing
a great transparent dome over the University and installing high-power
LEDs for those sunless days, we can have endless summer. Add some
sand, palm trees, a little damming and filtration of the Genesee, and
a wave machine, and we can attend classes in a tropical aquatic paradise.
A 1000m dome (1km) seems OK to start, and it's within the range of
current technology. To avoid the problem of the dome collapsing during
extended power failures that plague the city, we will go for a
"Cadillac" rigid design with a steel frame holding panels of high-strength
plastic or glass, rather than a more economical air-supported structure.
Estimate the cost of building the dome. Existing large, covered stadiums
might provide a useful starting point.
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