Modern Steel Constrution
hile exposed structural steel was once theselect province of a few noteworthy projects,architects today are increasingly usingtransparency in their design. The currenttrend may have started with Helmut Jahn’sUnited Airlines Terminal in Chicago, but it has now spreadto everything from small retail stores to office lobbies.Unfortunately, existing codes and standards—evenAISC’s
Code of Standard Practice
—do not fully address theunique level of detail needed to successfully design, detail,fabricate and erect Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel(AESS). Further, because AESS costs more to fabricate thanstandard structural steel, it is critical that these designs areproperly budgeted. The repercussion of not properly budg-eting AESS is often the need for redesign, project delays, andultimately even higher project costs. In addition, the mem-bers requiring special handling and finish are often poorlyidentified in the contract documents—and, since the EORoften specifies the steel while the architect specifies the paintand appearance, there is sometimes a built-in conflict orcompatibility issue. Finally, the lack of acceptance criteria forAESS members often leads to disputes between the designteam and the contractor over what is desired versus whatwas bid.In response to these issues, the Steel Liaison Committeeof the Structural Engineers Association of Colorado and theRocky Mountain Steel Construction Association, with inputfrom local contractors and architects, developed guidelinesto assist in the specification of AESS. According to the Com-mittee: “The goal of these tools is to allow the designer tocommunicate the desired appearance in a format that Con-tractors can price/budget/bid more appropriately.”The guidelines include three key elements:
The sample board includes small piecesof fabricated structural steel that indicate a range of finishsurfaces that can be expected from structural steel fabrica-tors. The board includes bare steel with fabrication “defects”and pieces with typical finish coats. The samples are in-tended to allow the designer to see how various fabricationtechniques affect the final product. The goal of the sampleboard is to allow the designer to decide what features areimportant for their project. Physical samples allow the de-signer to evaluate how imperfections in the finished surfaceappear from various distances.The photos printed here are taken from the sample board ,but due to reproduction technology might not fully representthe actual appearance on the sample board. However, design-ers or contractors wishing to obtain an actual sample boardcan purchase one from Zimkor Industries for $1,780 by con-tacting William Zimmerman at firstname.lastname@example.org 303.791.1333.
Of course, knowing appearance of the finalsteel is only half the story. Equally important is knowing thebudget impact of AESS. The cost matrix is designed to pro-vide the designer with the cost premium associated withspecifying the desired techniques to achieve the final ap-pearance of an AESS project. The cost of producing work toa higher appearance standard varies greatly from fabricatorto fabricator, depending on the equipment in the shop andthe experience of the staff. This variation is indicated in thecost matrix as a range of cost premiums for each desired fab-rication technique or finish coat item specified.The cost premiums noted apply to the total weight of AESS for that particular line item, fabricated and erected.While the cost matrix was prepared initially by surveyingfabricators in the Rocky Mountain region, the figures havebeen further checked through surveying a select group of national fabricators. The idea behind the cost matrix is toallow a designer to balance a project budget with the desiredproject scope. As a result, several design iterations might berequired. Also, it is imperative that a designer contacts alocal fabricator for more detailed pricing as the project be-comes more defined.
SEAC/RCSCAhas prepared a genericspecification that includes many common fabrication anderection techniques to help communicate a designer’s ex-pectations to the fabricator. The specification includes anumber of editor’s notes to provide guidance. The headingsin the specification are coordinated with the line times fromthe cost matrix and sample board. The intent of the specifi-cation is to provide a consistent mechanism to define ap-pearance quality requirements that were selected with thesample board and budgeted with the cost matrix. The pri-mary scope of the project was to offer a common language toaddress the appearance issues of structural steel used in ex-posed locations.Although many of the finish issues are common to miscel-laneous metals, stairs and railings, the specification is notwritten to cover all of these items. Furthermore there are nu-merous performance topics such as jointing for thermal move-ments, waterproofing and fire resistance which this documentdoes not address. Any comments or suggestions on how theSpecification can be improved or modified should be sent toJack Petersen at jpetersen@martin/martin.com.
the recent expansion of the Austin, TX convention center includes a spectacular atrium space that features exposedstructural steel framing and a cobalt-blue art-glass wall on the exterior of the building.