Frontiers of Construction
Details: You could call them rappelers or abseilers, daredevils or even spider men, but the people who do this dangerous work prefer to be known as 'rope access technicians'. They inspect and build suspension bridges, church spires, chimney stacks, offshore platforms and even sewers. As recently as 30 years ago, abseiling was nothing more than a moderately trendy sport. That changed in the 1970s and 80s, when rappelers in Europe and North America decided to turn their passion into lucrative jobs. Lithe and limber men and women around the world are now making their living swinging on ropes and scaling skyscrapers. Last year, dozens of abseilers helped build the Millennium Dome in London. Many of the same men are now at work on a huge blimp hangar in Germany. These daredevils make structures like the Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge and CN Tower possible. We'll find out why and how they do what they do and we'll see them at work on some of their most daring jobs.
Every "Frontiers Of Construction" episode focuses on a single engineering specialty, like blasting, underwater construction, forensic engineering, robotics and virtual engineering. Each episode sees the emerging world of that specialty through the eyes of a world leader, a pioneer in that field - people like Bill Bauer, who travels the world blowing things up; Frank Gehry, architect of some of the world's most revolutionary new buildings; Michael Oube, the designer behind the magic of Cirque de Soleil; Todd Dalland, who is developing lightweight fabric skyscrapers ... visionaries whose courage and daring have opened up new worlds for all of us. Each episode gives the viewer an overview of that specialty, a history of where it has been, as well as where it is going. It introduces the visionaries of the past and their grand designs for our future - sometimes mad, sometimes utopian, and sometimes surprisingly realistic.