Forget that “thinking outside the box” stuff: Rand Elliott wouldn’t recognize a box if you spotted him eight corners and a laser level. So when I saw variations of the picture to the right showing up in local media, I knew, even without reading the text, that Rand Elliott had to have something to do with this.
Elliott explains “Turbinomic,” as he calls it, this way:
It is known that wind turbulence occurs around high-rise structures. We have created a structure that allows the wind forces to drive circular belt turbines incorporated into the building skin. These 4′ tall carbon-fiber-finned belt turbines placed horizontally between each floor generate power for the structure. The belt turbines are independent at each floor and can be activated by wind from any direction. Flush fin doors can be closed over sections of the fins to ensure maximum benefit from the directional wind force. The design creates architecture that works rather than being static and energy absorbing/consuming.
As usual with wind turbines, the amount of power generated is determined by the amount of wind passing by, which fluctuates wildly in this part of the world: yesterday’s winds ranged from calm (right before the thunderstorms hit) to upwards of 40 mph. At about 28 mph, says Elliott, the turbines will produce enough to supply the entire building’s needs without drawing from the grid, and anything over that can be put back into the grid. The overall average wind speed, though, is about half that, so the scheme isn’t entirely self-supporting. Yet.
Presented with this vision, local dollars-and-cents types were quizzical:
Dick Tanenbaum, a developer who has built residential, office and warehouse properties throughout the city, said the project’s feasibility will rest on whether energy savings can outweigh increased construction costs.
“I have no idea, nor does he. It’s exciting, but nothing happens without financing. I’m not sure this doesn’t happen more in a place like Dubai or New York. It’s absolutely a magnificent design,” Tanenbaum said.
Yeah, but why should Dubai or New York get everything cool and iconic? If we build this here (which, I figure, is 10-15 years away), somewhere that doesn’t clash with Devon Energy’s giant drill bit, we get an icon on the level of St Louis’ Gateway Arch.
“Or the Space Needle, dammit,” grumbled a former Seattle SuperSonics fan.