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AECOS system claims to reduce time, cost and accidents, but there are murky issues

A New Jersey company claiming that its construction method reduces time, cost and accidents met with the New York City Department of Buildings last month to discuss a potential rollout in the five boroughs, Crain’s New York Business reports.

But there are complications — such as the lack of recent examples of building with the technology, and a painful court dispute about who actually owns the patents.

“Like a tree trunk supports branches, concrete cores support the floor structure and carry all vertical loads, totally eliminating the need for columns,” AECOS Ltd.’s website says, describing its patented Top Down technology.

Company representatives met with city officials on June 29 to talk about its methodology to erect mid and high-rise buildings from the top down without the use of tower cranes, Crain’s reported.

The first stage of the system involves constructing a concrete core that includes stairwells and elevator shafts.

Near the base, a slab is then poured around the core like a doughnut. Once it dries, crews install mechanicals and the façade, and the completed floor is then hoisted up the core by pulleys attached at the top. Workers secure it in place before the next floor is poured and hauled up. The process repeats itself from the top down.

AECOS says its patented technology requires 50 percent less time at 20 percent less cost and is far safer than traditional methods because most of the work is done a few feet off the ground.

However, the only completed projects referenced on its website using the system are four California buildings constructed more than 40 years ago, “decades before AECOS purchased the patent in a transaction that is the subject of a current federal lawsuit in Nevada,” according to the Crain’s story, which continued:

The lawsuit alleges, among a number of charges, that Charles Thornton, former co-chair of New York-based structural engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti, improperly sold the patented technology to AECOS in 2014. Thornton himself was booted from AECOS a year later, according to two press releases from the company.

Both AECOS and the lawsuit indicate that the technology has been used more recently abroad. The Buildings Department said that it is conducting research to see whether the method complies with current city construction codes.

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