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4 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION (Volume 52, Number 8. ISSN (print) 0026-8445: ISSN (online) 1945-0737. Published monthly by the American Institute of Steel
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ON THE COVER: The Tea House in Bethesda, Md., p. 37. (Photo: Paul Warchol)
Rite of Spring
BY CHENG GU, P.E., PH.D., AND TIAN-FANG
Steel helps a new botanic garden visitor center
blend in with its natural, leafy surroundings.
Golden Moment for Golden Bears
BY GEOFF WEISENBERGER
Cal-Berkeley’s steel bridge team wins the 21st
36 What’s Cool in Steel
Cool Tea House
Cool Olympic Tower
Cool Olympic Bridge
Cool Concert Venue
Cool BIM Renovation
Details from the Edge
BY JIE ZUO
Considerations for detailing the slab edge
and designing faÇade attachments.
product expert series
BY BILL GALLANT
Material handling and its role in structural
Long-Term Plan for Long (and
BY BRIAN RAFF
Recent federal-level transportation
legislation closes a small loophole but needs
to address the big picture.
people to know
For Nic Goldsmith, a veteran designer of
tensile structures, innovation is not a matter
of choice, but rather a matter of course.
6 EDITOR’S NOTE
9 STEEL INTERCHANGE
12 STEEL QUIZ
62 NEWS & EVENTS
in every issue
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6 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
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IF YOU VISIT MY SON’S ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, YOU’LL SEE A BIG SIGN FOR “NO
EXCUSES UNIVERSITY” EVEN BEFORE YOU ENTER THE BUILDING. The school
strongly advocates this program designed to “promote a comprehensive model of col-
lege readiness to all students the moment they begin elementary school.”
Participating schools have the goal of
sending every single one of their students to
college. The students all wear “No Excuses
University” t-shirts on Fridays, and each class-
room adopts a college to learn about. During
the school year students are constantly rein-
forced about the need to go to college.
While I’m a strong supporter of higher
education, I can’t help but feel this is
an incredibly misguided program and
symptomatic of deep issues within our public
In today’s society, where it’s not unusual
for a college graduate to have $50,000 to
$100,000 (and even that might be for “only”
a public school!) in debt—and where too of-
ten, many graduates are not able to fnd a job
outside the service economy—why aren’t we
more strongly encouraging (and preparing)
students to enter what we used to call “the
According to the American Welding So-
ciety (AWS), we’re looking at a shortage of
around 200,000 welders—an opinion echoed
by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Asso-
ciation (FMA). When I talk with fabricators
the shortage of trained machinery operators,
even in today’s depressed economy, is a con-
stant concern. Yet vocational training doesn’t
even seem to be on the radar for many of our
public school educators.
Mark Phillips, a professor emeritus in sec-
ondary education at San Francisco State Uni-
versity, began a recent article in the Washington
Post by explaining: “I was hired by Norway’s
Ministry of Education to train vocational edu-
cation teachers some years ago. Having myself
attended a comprehensive high school where
vocational students were those who couldn’t
make it academically, it was eye-opening to be
in a country where vocational education had
high prestige, was well funded and included
students who could have gone to medical
school if that had been their preference.”
In contrast, he fnds the U.S. denigrates
those who are interested in the trades. “This
bias against vocational education is dysfunc-
tional. It is destructive to our children. It is
also destructive to our society. Many of the
skills most needed to compete in the global
market of the 21st century are technical skills
that fall into the technical/vocational area.
The absence of excellence in many techni-
cal and vocational felds is also costing us
economically as a nation.” As Walt Gardner
wrote in the April 9 edition of Education Week:
“Career and technical education, as it is now
called, is less expensive and less wasteful than
the current obsession with emphasizing col-
lege for everyone. But don’t try telling that to
policy makers. Employers have loudly com-
plained that they can’t fnd skilled workers for
jobs made available as baby boomers retire.
They say that too many graduates with bach-
elor’s degrees lack the wherewithal to step in
to fll open places.
Yes, we need engineers and doctors. But
we also need welders and machine operators.
I urge all of you to contact your local school
boards. Why aren’t we preparing students to
help rebuild America?
As Dan DiMicco, chairman and CEO of
Nucor Corporation, strongly stated at the
2012 NASCC: The Steel Conference: “It’s up
to all of you to make a difference.” A service-
based economy is unsustainable and we need
to reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing
sector. “As a nation, we need to get creative
making and building things again.”
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AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 9
Slender Web Flexure/Shear Interaction
In editions of the AISC Specification prior to 2005,
interaction between bending and shear was a required
check. Why is this requirement not included in the 2005
and 2010 AISC Specifications?
This is discussed in the Commentary to Section G3.1 of the
2010 AISC Specification and Section 6.8 of the SSRC Guide to
Stability Design Criteria for Metal Structures, 6th Ed. (Ziemian
2010), which offers the following explanation:
“Although expressions accounting for shear-moment
interaction were considered in past design specifications,
the expressions are not included in the 13th edition of the
AISC Specification or the 3rd or 4th editions of AASHTO
LRFD Bridge Design Specification. These provisions were
removed based upon work by White (2008) that showed that
the tension-field design expressions sufficiently capture the
behavior with a reasonable amount of accuracy relative to
experimental test results.”
That is, the design approach was simplified in 2005. The
complete reference for White is:
White, D.W. (2008). “Unified Flexural Resistance Equations
for Stability Design of Steel I-Section Members—Overview.”
Journal of Structural Engineering, 134(9), 1405-1424.
Brad Davis, S.E., Ph.D.
Bolted Connection Ductility
The standard holes given in AISC Specification Table J3.3 are
∕16 in. greater in diameter than the bolt. If a beam
with a simple shear connection is erected such that only
one bolt in the bolt group is initially resisting the load and
the others are not, will the connection be able to deform
sufficiently such that all bolts end up sharing the load?
Yes. Tests on bolted joints show that some of the bolts will
start out in bearing due to fabrication tolerances in any joint
of appreciable size. This means that some other bolts will
start out “floating” in the holes. It could take up to
∕16 in. of
movement before all the bolts bear. Is this a problem? There
has been no indication of this in the research that I have seen.
Additionally, it is also possible to investigate this situation
using rational analytical models.
First, consider the case of a two-bolt connection with very
thick connection plates and a relatively small bolt size. The
load deformation behavior for such a condition is illustrated
in the AISC Manual Figure 7-3. Manual Equation 7-1 can
be used to determine the proportion of the strength that is
developed under a given deformation. Assuming a deformation
of 0.0625 in., Equation 7-1 results in a load equal to 65.6% of
the ultimate strength of the bolt. Although approximately two-
thirds of the bolt strength is achieved before all the bolts have
come into bearing, the load-deformation curve flattens out
considerably as the ultimate strength is approached.
Equation 7-1 is calibrated so the ultimate strength is
obtained at a deformation of 0.34 in. Note that this is nearly half
the diameter of the tested bolt—a good bit of ductility. When
the bolt that starts in bearing is at 0.34 in. of deformation, it
will be predicted to reach 98.2% of its ultimate strength (not
100%, due to the curve fitting involved). The second bolt has
a deformation of 0.34 in. – 0.0625 in. = 0.278 in. Equation
7-1 predicts the second bolt will reach 96.5% of its ultimate
strength. The predicted percentage of full strength that can be
developed by the two-bolt connection is (0.982 + 0.965) / 2 =
97.3%. This is very good, considering some of the reduction is
due to the curve fitting and the predicted reduction in strength
in the first bolt. Let’s also consider the other extreme, a 12-bolt
connection with one bolt in bearing and all other bolts at the
opposite end of their holes. The predicted strength would be
(0.982 + 11(0.965)) / 12 = 96.6%—also very good.
The absolute lower bound is 96.5%, which I would still
consider an acceptable result considering that the values in
Table J3.2 are reduced by about 10% to account for uneven
stress distributions in long end-loaded joints. This reduction
in most common joints will be greater than the slight loss of
strength that accompanies bringing the bolts into bearing.
Just to consider everything, we should also think about a
joint with very stiff and strong bolts connecting relatively thin
plates. The bearing checks that are made on joints typically will
not predict fracturing of the joint. Instead, they are intended
to limit deformations to around ¼ in. when deformation is a
consideration. Obviously, this ¼ in. of deformation will go a
long way toward evening out the forces in the individual bolts.
Most joints will accommodate the need deformation
through some combination of bolt deformation and plate
deformation, thereby mitigating the effects of both.
Larry S. Muir, P.E
The contract documents for a project call out V-shaped
stiffener plates that are made by CJP groove-welding two
plates at a 45° angle. Is bending a single plate to form
these stiffeners a viable alternative to the welded detail?
In the general sense, yes. Plate can be bent to form
L-shapes. AISC Manual Table 10-13 contains the minimum
recommended inside radius for cold bending plate. The
minimum radius is dependent on the plate material and
orientation of final rolling direction to the bend line. The
information in this table is based on the research described in
“Brockenbrough, R.L. (1998), Fabrication Guidelines for Cold
If you’ve ever asked yourself “Why?” about something related to
structural steel design or construction, Modern Steel Construction’s
monthly Steel Interchange column is for you! Send your
questions or comments to email@example.com.
10 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Bending, R.L. Brockenbrough and Associates, Pittsburgh, PA.”
This report is available at www.steel.org.
In the specific case of your contract, the answer is: yes,
with approval—i.e., since you are proposing a change to what
is shown in the contract documents, you will need the EOR’s
approval to substitute bent plates for the built-up shape.
Heath Mitchell, S.E., P.E.
Eccentrically Loaded Single Angles
I am designing a single-angle compression member. The
end connections consist of one leg welded to a plate. I
would like to use AISC 360-10 Section E5 so that I can
neglect the eccentricity of the end connection in the
design of the angle. Is it possible to use the modified KL/r
calculated in this section with AISC Manual Table 4-11
for concentrically loaded single-angles?
Yes, AISC Manual Table 4-11 can be used for the design of
eccentrically loaded single angles by using an effective (KL)
single angles must meet the requirements of AISC Specification
Section E5, including a b/t ≤ 20. Section E5 allows eccentricity to
be neglected if a modified slenderness ratio is used in determining
the compressive strength of the angle.
AISC Manual Table 4-11 can be used because single angles
with b/t ≤ 20 are designed using AISC Specification Sections E3
and E7. Section E4 is not required to be checked for angles
with element width-to-thickness ratios in this range. Table
4-11 is to be entered using the effective slenderness ratio
calculated in accordance with Section E5(a) or E5(b). You will
need to multiply the effective KL/r from E5 by r
the effective (KL)
to use in Table 4-11.
As another option when using AISC Specification Section
E5, the effective KL/r ratio calculated using this section can be
directly used to determine FF
using AISC Manual Table 4-22.
can be determined as FF
A per Section E3.
Brad Davis, S.E., Ph.D.
Reusing Rivet Holes for Bolts
I am upgrading an existing structure that has riveted
connections. Some existing members will need to be
replaced with new members. After the existing rivets are
removed, is it possible to reuse the existing holes for new
ASTM A325 bolts?
It is permitted to replace the existing rivets with ASTM A325
(or A490) bolts. The appropriate bolt diameter should be
installed for the hole size per AISC Specification Table J3.3. AISC
Design Guide 15 states the following regarding this practice:
“In all types of riveted and bolted connections, old rivets or
common (A307) bolts can be removed and replaced with A325 or
A490 bolts. If necessary, the old holes can be reamed and larger
diameter bolts inserted. It may not be necessary to remove all of
the rivets. A325 and A490 bolts tightened to the requirements for
slip-critical connections can be considered to share the load with
the rivets. The strength of A307 bolts used in combination with
rivets or high-strength bolts should be ignored.”
Modern Steel Construction has information (in back issues
at www.modernsteel.com) on rivet removal and installation
of A325 bolts. Just type “rivet” in the search to see numerous
articles and Steel Interchange questions on rivet removal.
CJP Groove-Welded Flanges in S-Shapes
Does AISC have a standard for CJP groove-welded splices
in flanges of S-shapes?
No. AISC does not have a standard detail.
If the splice is for strength and a CJP groove weld is
needed, the concern is the taper of the flange. The answer is
related to the joint used from AWS D1.1. As long as the joint
has dimensions that don’t have a minimum or maximum for
the thickness of the parts joined there should not be a problem.
As an example, look at Joint Designation B-U4a-GF; the T
dimension is unlimited and has no minimum or maximum, so
the prep can be tapered (constant angle). To avoid V-shaped
weld backing, you may want to choose a joint that uses a back
gouge of the root instead of one that requires a backing bar.
If the splice is not for strength, such as for a monorail (a
common use of an S-shape), and made to allow the wheels
to run continuously on the bottom flange, then the splice
need only be good enough to provide a smooth ride for the
monorail’s wheels. In this case, a PJP groove weld likely can be
designed to work.
Erin Criste (with assistance from Mark V. Holland, P.E.)
Steel Interchange is a forum to exchange useful and practical professional ideas and
information on all phases of steel building and bridge construction. Opinions and
suggestions are welcome on any subject covered in this magazine.
The opinions expressed in Steel Interchange do not necessarily represent an official
position of the American Institute of Steel Construction and have not been reviewed. It is
recognized that the design of structures is within the scope and expertise of a competent
licensed structural engineer, architect or other licensed professional for the application of
principles to a particular structure.
If you have a question or problem that your fellow readers might help you solve, please
forward it to us. At the same time, feel free to respond to any of the questions that you
have read here. Contact Steel Interchange via AISC’s Steel Solutions Center:
One East Wacker Dr., Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601
rel: 8óó.ASK.A¦SC º lox: 312.803.470º
The complete collection of Steel Interchange questions and answers is available online.
Find questions and answers related to just about any topic by using our full-text search
capability. Visit Steel Interchange online at www.modernsteel.com.
Heath Mitchell is director of technical assistance and Erin Criste is staff engineer, technical
assistance at AISC. Brad Davis and Larry Muir are consultants to AISC.
2000 Access Blvd
Madison, IL 62060
A325 & A490 HEAVY HEX
F1852 & F2280
TENSION CONTROL BOLTS
ANCHOR BOLTS, ASSEMBLIES,
AND MANY OTHER STRUCTURAL
Proud to be a USA manufacturer for 125 years,
let’s build something great together!
12 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
1 Which Chapter in the 2010 AISC Specification lists the
materials approved for use with the Specification?
a) Chapter N b) Chapter J
c) Chapter A d) None of the Above
2 True/False: Material substitutions require the approval of
3 True/False: The AISC Specification considers ASTM
A500 lor round HSS ond A53 lor pipe 6ur ir does nor
pertain to spirally welded material grades.
4 True/Folse: Commerciolly ovoilo6le ASTM A3ó rod
products that are fully threaded always meet the
requiremenrs ol ASTM F1554 Crode 3ó.
5 Which ASTM standards apply to stainless steel sections
o) 304 6) 430
c) 31óL d) None ol r|e A6ove
6 True/False: Material can be multi-certified when there is
an overlap in the chemical, mechanical and other ASTM
material specification requirements.
7 What value of F
is commonly used for design with the
a) The minimum specified yield stress
b) The maximum specified yield stress
c) The larger of the minimum specified yield stress or
the value given on the mill test report
d) None of the Above
8 True/False: In the AISC Seismic Provisions, R
is used to
adjust the yield stress of the material from the minimum
specified to the expected yield stress.
9 True/False: The AISC Specification does not address
modification of an existing structure.
10 True/False: The RCSC Specification and ASTM
standards specify the dimensional characteristics of
TURN TÒ FACE 14 FÒR ANSWERS
Material is the theme for this month’s Steel Quiz. Most of the answers can be
found in the AISC Specifcation and AISC Manual, as well as on the AISC and
Modern Steel Construction websites (www.aisc.org and www.modernsteel.com).
,QW U RGXF L QJ W KH QH [ W JH QH U DW L RQ
RI KL JKV H L V PL F SH U I RU PDQF H
,QW U RGXF L QJ W KH QH [ W JH QH U DW L RQ
RI KL JKV H L V PL F SH U I RU PDQF H
w w w. c a s t c o n n e x . c o m w w w. c a s t c o n n e x . c o m
14 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
1 (c) The AISC Specification includes the materials listed in
Secrion A3. T|e use ol r|e Specification to design other
materials is based on the judgment of the EOR. The
Commenrory ro Secrion A3 discusses considerorions lor
2 True. There are many similar materials that can be
acceptable as a substitute, and approval in such cases
is needed from the EOR. There is a SteelWise article
(08/2011) discussing material substitutions, why they may
be needed or desirable and what should be considered for
when deciding whether the substitution can be permitted.
3 True. Generally, spirally welded products are produced to
API material standards and in larger diameters than are
rypicol in ASTM A500 ond A53. T|ese producrs |ove 6een
used for structural applications, but their use requires the
approval of the EOR.
4 False. Such products may meet most of the requirements
in ASTM F1554, 6ur olren r|ese producrs will nor
meet the thread class, thread fit and reduction in area
5 (d) None ol r|e o6ove onswers ore ASTM srondords, 304,
410, 430, 31ó ond 31óL ore A¦S¦ row moreriol grodes.
Stainless steel information is provided by the Specialty
Steel Industry of North America (www.ssina.com). SSINA
information discusses various stainless steel material
grades and describes their properties.
6 True. Material multi-certified by the producer (labeling
with multiple ASTM material specifications that the
material meets) is sometimes done when the product
chemistry, yield strength, tensile strength and other
characteristics fall entirely within the overlap area of
requirements of two or more ASTM material standards.
A hot topic when W-shapes were first dual-labeled as
ASTM A3ó/A572 Crode 50, r|e indusrry move ro ASTM
A992 material for W-shapes has rendered this practice an
artifact of history for wide-flange shapes.
7 (a) The Specification is based on the use of the specified
minimum yield stress given in the ASTM specification for
the type of steel being used. For example, if ASTM A992
steel is specified, F
= 50 ksi.
8 True. This consideration of “expected yield” rather than
minimum specified yield is an important component of
capacity design in high-seismic systems. Capacity design
promotes ductile deformation in specific elements that
can be permitted to deform in an earthquake to protect
the full system from collapse.
9 Fal se. AI SC Speci f i cati on Appendi x 5 contai ns
requirements for the evaluation of existing structures and
includes provisions for evaluation by structural analysis
and by load tests.
10 False. These standards refer to ASME B18.2.1 for
Anyone is welcome to submit questions and answers for Steel Quiz. If you
are interested in submitting one question or an entire quiz, contact AISC’s
Steel Solutions Center at 866.ASK.AISC or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Dale J. Meszler, P.E.
Almy & Associates, Consulting Engineers
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AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 17
SLAB EDGE DETAILS WHERE the structural frame of the
building meets the architectural skin can be cumbersome and
complex. But they don’t have to be!
The design and detailing of the structural components
around the slab edge to support the façade can have a tremen-
dous impact on the overall cost of the project, as well as the
façade’s functionality. There are many factors to consider when
developing a design strategy to accommodate the façade loads,
including the type of façade, its location relative to the struc-
tural frame, the length of cantilever of the slab past the spandrel
beam, the strength of the slab and metal deck and the orienta-
tion of the metal deck and adjacent framing.
AISC Steel Design Guide 22, Façade Attachments to Steel
Framed Structures, available on www.aisc.org/epubs, gives the
practicing engineer guidelines to address these issues. This
article draws from the design guide to provide tips and consid-
erations on how to detail slab edges for supporting façade loads
in an effcient and economical manner.
Loads and Forces
Let’s frst examine the loads and forces that are involved.
The gravity load on the façade generally consists of solely the
dead self-weight of the façade panel. Most façades carry no ver-
tical live load, but it’s important to recognize when there are fat
areas that project from the structure and provide working space
for building maintenance and window washers. In these cases,
live, rain and/or snow loads must also be considered.
The center of gravity of the façade elements is almost
always offset some distance from the centerline of the support
locations on the steel frame. This eccentricity between the
center of gravity of the façade panel and the support loca-
tions on the steel frame produces a moment that usually is
resolved with a horizontal force couple from the top and bot-
tom attachments (as shown in Figure 1). The top attachment
may be in tension from the gravity loads due to resolving the
eccentricity, and often, negative wind pressures combined
with this horizontal force couple will be critical in the design
of the façade attachment.
Often, the weights of the façade panels are supported on the
slab edge. The slab edge details must transmit these forces and
moments into the structural frame without exceeding defec-
tion, tolerance and clearance limits. Conceptually, there are two
methods to transfer the forces from the slab edge and into the
Method 1 – The slab and metal deck act as a cantilever
to resist the façade loads. In this approach, the strength and
stiffness of the slab and metal
deck resist the shear and
moment, essentially treating
it like a cantilevered beam to
support the façade loads. This
method is economical when
the typical slab and metal
deck are adequate or can
easily be reinforced to take the
additional facade loads. (See
Figure 2, p. 18, for free body
diagrams of the structural
components involved in this
method.) If, however, the
thickness of the slab must be
increased to accommodate
the façade loads, this may
diminish the cost effectiveness
of this method.
The façade panel loads
may be transferred into the
slab by direct bearing on the
slab or by attachment to steel
embedments or bent plates
that also serve as pour stops. If a bent plate pour stop is used,
a steel headed stud anchor or deformed bar anchor is often
welded to the pour stop at the end of the slab, which engages
the concrete reinforcement and transfers the forces into the
slab. The stud or bar attachment cannot be shop-welded when
it projects over the spandrel beam, as this would violate OSHA
requirements that prohibit tripping hazards.
BY JIE ZUO
Considerations for detailing the slab
edge and designing façade attachments.
Jie Zuo is a staff engineer with
AISC and can be reached at
Fig. 1: Horizontal force
couple due to eccentricity.
18 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Resolving the eccentricity of the façade load location and
the spandrel beam support with the slab and metal deck as a
cantilever eliminates the need to design the spandrel beam
for torsion or brace it against twist. However, the façade load
induces negative moment in the slab as it passes over the span-
drel, which may require additional fexural reinforcement in
the top of the slab in that area.
Method 2 – A bent plate or other steel assembly is used as a
means to transfer the loads to the spandrel. This approach has a
load path that bypasses the slab and metal deck; it relies on the
strength and stiffness of an attached bent plate, angle or other
structural steel assembly to transfer the loads directly into the
spandrel (as seen in Figure 3). This method generally is used in
cases where the slab and metal deck are inadequate to resist the
façade loads. Examples of such scenarios include a long, over-
hanging slab that produces a large moment or when there is a
slab opening in the back-span that limits its capacity. Due to
the eccentricity of the façade load, the spandrel must resist the
induced torsion or be braced against it.
Concrete Slab and Metal Deck
The concrete slab cantilever can be designed according
to ACI 318 and there exist design tables in AISC Steel Design
Guide 22 for fexural strength and slab geometries. When the
slab and metal deck act as a cantilever to support the façade
(Method 1), the façade should transfer its loads to the slab
through direct bearing. To determine the effective slab width, a
conservative approach is to take the effective width equal to the
width of the concentrated load plus twice the distance to the
line of bending in the slab (as shown in Figure 4, p. 20).
¢ Fig. 2: Design concept of Method 1, where the slab is utilized to resolve eccentricity of façade panel loads.
¢ Fig. 3: Design concepr ol Mer|od 2, w|ere r|e spondrel is used ro resolve eccenrriciry ol loçode ponel loods.
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20 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
The orientation of the futes of the metal deck also may
affect the effective width and effective depth of the slab. When
the futes are oriented parallel to the spandrel beam, the effec-
tive depth is taken at the location where the depth is reduced
at the fute; the effective width is unaffected. If the futes are
oriented perpendicular, the full slab depth is effective but the
effective width must be reduced to account for the area of con-
crete not present in the compression zone. The design guide
also addresses other forces that slab and deck must also be able
to resist, including forces from kickers or roll (back-up) beams,
when used, and the horizontal force couple due to eccentricity.
In the case of Method 2, the eccentricity of the façade load
induces torsion on the spandrel beam. Wide fange sections
make great fexural members, but offer little torsional resis-
tance and often require bracing against twist. If the spandrel
Fig. 4: Ellecrive widr|
for concentrated loads
at slab edge.
beam is a girder with in-fll beams framing to it, the secondary
framing may provide adequate restraint against twist. If there
is no secondary framing, however, the spandrel must have suf-
fcient torsional strength and stiffness or additional restraint
must be provided.
One common solution is to add intermittent perpendicu-
lar kickers or bracing angles between the bottom fange of the
spandrel and the top fange of the frst interior beam (as shown
in Figure 5). It can also be an anchored connection in the slab.
Another common solution is to include additional framing per-
pendicular to the spandrel, referred to as “roll beams” (shown
in Figure 6, p. 22). The connections on roll beams must be
designed with enough moment resistance to sustain the tor-
sional shear. The presence of a kicker or roll beam results in
vertical and horizontal reactions in the spandrel, and the hori-
zontal force couple between the top and bottom fanges resolves
the twisting force.
Fig. 5: A kicker brace can be used to resolve the
torsion in the spandrel.
JOIN THE STRUCTURAL EVOLUTION
22 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Light-Gauge Metal Pour Stop
One economical slab edge detail incorporates a light-gauge
metal pour stop. Typically used in Method 1 and made of cold-
formed steel of 10- to 20-gauge thickness with a yield strength
of 33 ksi, its sole purpose is to form the edge of the slab. It is
an item that usually comes with the metal deck procurement
package and is welded to the spandrel during erection of the
metal deck. The Steel Deck Institute provides a design table
for light-gage metal pour stops to support the weight of wet
concrete, concrete pore water pressure on the vertical leg and
a uniform construction live load of 20 psf; this table is also
printed in AISC Steel Design Guide 22.
SDI recommends that the designer limit the design fexural
stress to 20 ksi for the wet concrete load, temporarily increased by
one-third for the construction live load. The table provides designs
for an overhang length of up to 12 in. It is also recommended that
the horizontal and vertical defection should be limited to a maxi-
mum of ¼ in. for concrete dead load. (The design approach of the
light-gauge metal pour stop is detailed in Figure 7.)
These pour stops are generally not strong enough to be
expected to carry any of the façade loads. Use of this type of detail
is limited to the slab being able to resist all of the superimposed
loads, including the façade. Overlap between the spandrel fange
and the pour stop is commonly specifed as 2 in.
Fig. 6: A roll beam can also be used to brace the
spandrel against twist.
Fig. 7: Design considerations for a light-gauge metal pour stop. ¢
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION
Instead of a light-gauge metal pour stop, a bent plate, angle
or other steel assembly can be used. Bent plates are stronger
and have more versatility than light-gauge metal pour stops. A
bent plate can be designed to act as a pour stop, and also as
a transfer element to provide a load path between the façade
attachment and the slab, or between the façade attachment and
the spandrel beam.
Designers might choose to use a bent plate in lieu of a light-
gauge metal pour stop for several reasons, including:
The cantilever slab overhang is too large to be sup- 1.
ported by a light-gage metal pour stop.
To transmit the façade forces into the slab by attaching 2.
it to the façade and welding a headed stud on the verti-
cal leg (Method 1).
The slab and metal deck are inadequate in strength 3.
or stiffness to support the façade, so the bent plate is
used as a means to transfer the forces into the spandrel
Note that as thickness increases, practical lengths of the bent
plate get shorter. Hot-rolled angles do not have this length lim-
itation and have tighter tolerances, but required thicknesses and
leg sizes are not always readily available. Minimum and maxi-
mum thicknesses of bent plates are generally x in. and ½ in.,
respectively, limited by the bending equipment capacity. They
can be shop- or feld-welded or bolted, though shop attachment
requires that feld adjustment must be provided for in another
way. AISC Steel Design Guide 22 contains design tables for bent
plates up to an overhang length of 18 in.
Steel Design Guide 22 is a good resource when designing and
detailing the slab edge to suffciently transmit the façade loads
into the structural frame. There are many solutions, but the key
is to develop one that is economical and effcient. Also, refer to
the MSC SteelWise column in December 2007, titled “Pushing
the Envelope,” and AISC’s webinar on façade attachments at
MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
THE CHALLENGE to become more effcient has become a
major priority for many steel fabricators over the last several years,
leading them to take a closer look at all of their shop processes.
Material handling is an especially important area of focus
in terms of improving effciency, as it represents a signifcant
portion of the fabrication operation. The way product moves
though the production facility has a large effect on the bot-
tom line. Machines can only process material as quickly as it
is moved to and from them—plus, material transport and han-
dling has to take place at every stop in the operation, so there
are plenty of opportunities for improvement.
Technology Takes Over
Technology has played a large role in improving material
handling, from the physical transit of steel from one process
to the next to the actual fabrication machinery itself. In the
past, material was brought to each machine by lift truck, bridge
crane or another semi-manual device. Individual parts were
processed one at a time, put into a stack and moved to the next
machine or area for processing. This practice would then go
on repeatedly throughout the production facility, leading to a
relatively large amount of labor time devoted to stacking, un-
stacking and moving material.
But over the past ffteen years, modernized equipment has re-
ally made strides to ensure that steel components can be handled
more effciently than ever. For example, a stock length of plate
or angle can now be loaded into the machinery, and the appro-
priate CNC information can be downloaded or programmed
from systems such as SDS/2 or Tekla, or programmed manually.
Then, the machines will process the parts, which could include
punching, drilling, milling and cutting to size, shape and piece
marking, all with minimum operator input. The operator is then
free to load the next piece of stock material while the machine is
processing parts and dropping them into appropriate bins for fu-
ture relocation. With this type of system, in some cases, material
handling time has been cut by 60%. In addition, there are now
multiple fabrication machines available that are able to perform
more than one process, further reducing the distance that the
average steel component needs to travel through the shop.
That said, steel still needs to be moved from place to place,
and the roller conveyors and cross transfers available today
have taken material handling to the next level, incorporating
measuring systems that work as pieces move through them, in
place of the traditional tape measure and chalk method. These
integrated systems use programmable controllers that allow for
fewer workers to move as much if not more material than was
previously possible. Another beneft of these newer program-
mable controllers and integrated systems is that workers are
now separated from material, making for a much safer work
environment with fewer injuries to personnel. In addition,
overhead cranes, which are now commonplace, allow for large
structural pieces and subparts to be moved easily within a shop
at heights where there is less risk to shop personnel.
More intelligent sorting and storage of materials can be just
as important to shop effciency as the machinery itself. Convey-
ers and transfers, when paired with a multi-bay setup, allow for
material to be stockpiled by size, shape or job. This allows shop
management and machine operators to better coordinate one
or multiple projects into the fabrication area.
Better sorting of materials is also important once they reach
the fabrication area, in terms of “staging” materials for a specifc
process. One example involves a fabricator that set up its saw
stations to use cross transfer tables and skids. The cross transfer
tables consist of a series of bays that use hydraulic pushers and
conveyers to select the desired pieces. This system is controlled
by the drill and saw operators via a PLC (programmable logic
controller) located at their given stations. These tables allow for
a backlog of material to be stored near certain machinery until
it is ready to be processed. Once the cross transfer tables are
loaded, the saws are able to operate uninterrupted, since the ma-
terial is right there. In this scenario, material handling combined
integrated measuring and cutting systems, along with production
management software, to allow material to fow quickly through
the fabrication process with very little operator input.
Material handling and its role
in structural steel fabrication.
BY BILL GALLANT
Bill Gallant (left), the production
manager for Novel Iron Works (an
AISC Member/AISC Certiﬁed Fab-
ricator and Erector in Greenland,
N.H.), along with Josh Rosenthal,
Novel’s production coordinator,
who assisted with this article and,
as Gallant puts it, “represents the
future ownership of Novel.” You
can reach Bill at wgallant@novel-
26 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Automation is also contributing to more
effcient material handling. As more and
more companies incorporate robots and
conveyors into their shops, overall material
handling time will decrease, as will shop
injuries. But regardless of how fast auto-
mated machines can operate, they can only
work as fast as the material is delivered to
them. Robotics mixed with integrated mea-
suring systems, better sorting and storage
practices, more effcient machinery that
can perform multiple tasks and systems
that can measure steel while moving it will
result in a truly streamlined process. While
it may not be possible to incorporate all of
these practices and machinery at once, it is
important to understand that there is more
than one piece to the puzzle and that each
tactic brings its own opportunities.
Structural steel fabrication has always
been very labor-intensive, especially since
each project is different from the next.
However, modern technology and practic-
es have brought structural steel fabrication
up to speed with more repeatable manufac-
turing processes by reducing material han-
dling time and lowering costs. As far as au-
tomation is concerned, it should be viewed
as a supplement to a shop’s workfow. Rath-
er than replacing valuable employees, fab-
ricators should use technology to broaden
their work spectrum and improve on their
current system. As these practices continue,
steel fabricators will be better able to main-
tain their competitive edge in the construc-
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28 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
AT APPROXIMATELY 4 A.M. ON June 28, members of
the House and Senate Surface Transportation Conference Com-
mittee agreed to and signed a conference report on the Transpor-
In 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flex-
ible, Effcient, Transportation Equity Act – a Legacy for Users
(SAFETEA-LU), which expired in 2009. Since then, it has been
through a series of nine extensions, and while this reauthoriza-
tion (the process by which Congress prescribes changes to trans-
portation legislation in order to meet evolving transportation
needs) is technically a new bill, NSBA views it as nothing more
than another extension to SAFETEA-LU.
The 600-page bill includes funding through Fiscal Year (FY)
2014, at current levels, with a slight increase to adjust for infa-
tion. (For FY 2012, the limitation on federal aid highway pro-
gram obligations from the Highway Trust Fund is $39.1 billion,
increased by the conference report to $39.7 billion in FY 2013
and $40.265 billion in FY 2014.)
In addition to setting future funding levels, the conference
report also included language that closes the “segmentation”
loophole, which allows a bridge project to be separated into
multiple contracts. An example is the self-anchored suspension
span portion of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay bridge proj-
ect. Instead of the entire bridge being treated as one project, it
was broken up into nine separate contracts, segmenting the self-
anchored suspension span from federal funding and sending its
steel procurement and fabrication work to China. This segmen-
tation loophole was never part of Congress’ initial intent when
writing the Buy America provisions, and the conferees of the
Reauthorization effort should be commended for strengthening
this provision as well as improving waiver transparency and an-
nual reporting of those waivers. This is an important victory for
NSBA and its members, who have been fghting for stronger Buy
America provisions since 2004.
A day after the Surface Transportation Conference Commit-
tee signed the conference report, the House and Senate passed
the negotiated Transportation Reauthorization by wide margins
(373 to 52 in the House and 74 to 19 in the Senate). In order to
become law, the bill must be “enrolled” and signed by the Presi-
dent, which may have happened by the time you read this article.
In order to prevent an expiration of the programs during this
process, the House and Senate passed H.R. 6064 (the Temporary
Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012), which extends
highway program funding and student loan rates (a component
of the completed transportation bill) for one week to allow time
for the enrollment process and President’s signature.
The good and bad news is that NSBA members will now have
approximately two years of predictable, although woefully low,
levels of federal funding for highway and bridge projects. It is
this current level of inadequate federal transportation funding
that has led to construction unemployment to stagnate at 18%
and has forced states to tighten their expenditures, focusing more
on short-term “patch-and-pave” jobs rather than planning and
spending on new major Interstate projects like signature bridges.
In other words, this latest reauthorization is not a long-term
bill that will give states enough time to plan large, signifcant
bridge projects. It also doesn’t address how the United States will
fnd new sources of transportation funding to improve our infra-
structure, but rather continues the use of Band-Aid solutions.
Regardless of funding levels, the domestic bridge industry has
ample capacity to fabricate America’s signature bridges as well as
the myriad of typical highway overpasses and local short spans.
In May 2012, NSBA conducted a nationwide study to determine
the capacity of our domestic steel bridge fabrication industry.
The survey asked U.S. bridge fabricators to state their 2010 plant
use as a percentage of their overall capacity. Survey results de-
termined that, on average, our nation’s signifcant steel bridge
fabricators only used 67% of their total plant capacity in 2010.
And there are countless examples across the country of what
American fabricators have done—and still do. Recent projects
such as the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Washington, D.C.,
the Ravenal Bridge in Charleston, S.C. and a new Mississippi
River crossing in Louisiana are true success stories from domes-
tic fabricators and their American workers, and our industry is
poised to contribute if given the opportunity.
Remember: Just because we have a proverbial “tenth exten-
sion” to SAFETEA-LU doesn’t mean we are done. It is critical
that we continue to educate our legislators on the importance of
a long-term, robustly funded transportation bill. If the U.S. is to
remain competitive globally, it must promote the effcient move-
ment of freight and commerce in and out of the country, as well
as within its borders. The only way to do that is to drastically
increase funding for highways and bridges and continue to make
transportation a federal priority.
PLAN FOR LONG
(AND SHORT) SPANS
BY BRIAN RAFF
Brian Raff is the marketing
director of the National Steel
Bridge Alliance. You can reach
him at email@example.com.
Recent federal-level transportation
legislation closes a small loophole—
but needs to address the big picture.
There’s always a solution in steel.
American Institute of Steel Construction
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Chicago, IL 60601
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30 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
APRIL SHOWERS bring May fowers, or so the saying goes.
At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG), it wasn’t just the fower
petals that opened this past May. The 100-year-old independent
nonproft institution also celebrated the grand opening of its long-
anticipated Visitor Center. Providing a new, modern portal to the
historic garden, the opening was a major milestone in BBG’s cam-
paign to upgrade the garden for the next century.
A 417-ton steel superstructure was chosen for the iconic 20,000-
sq.-ft building, which was required to conform to a curvilinear,
asymmetrical site and support an alluring leaf-shaped green roof.
A glass and steel envelope that controls transparency and creates
a pleasing pattern of shadows on the interior brings the landscape
inside the building, a major goal of the project.
The original BBG master plan called for the building to be placed
in the center of a 25-ft-high berm on the site’s north side, necessitat-
ing removal of the ginkgo tree allée on top of it. Architect WEISS/
MANFREDI instead proposed that the structure bisect the berm
and merge into it. This solution made the building a natural exten-
sion of the berm, in harmony with and seeming to disappear into the
living garden topography. Moreover, it preserved the mature ginkgo
trees and incorporated the berm as an organic geothermal mass for
insulating the building.
The building fts snugly into the berm and responds to the undu-
lations and constraints of the adjacent Japanese Hill-and-Pond Gar-
den to the south. Only the east side of the building, which borders
Washington Avenue, is accessible from the street, while the west side
is accessible from both the Garden and from the elevated Overlook
and Ginkgo Allée at the top of the berm.
A Balancing Act
One of the major responsibilities of Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
the project’s structural engineer, was to keep costs in line despite the
structure’s complex geometry and construction challenges—which
meant fnding innovative structural solutions that respected both
the architectural vision and economic reality.
The building’s main components are a single-story retail pavil-
ion (with basement), shaped like a half-open bud, and a double-
height, leaf-shaped exhibition and events pavilion. The two pavil-
ions are connected by a sinuous trellis-like glazed canopy. Above
the gift shop is a double-pitched copper roof, representing a giant
autumn leaf, and a single-pitched, leaf-shaped living roof garden
(280 ft long; 10,000 sq. ft) tops the events space; the roof garden
boasts more than 40,000 seasonal plants. The copper roof, which
will age to green, echoes the roof of the BBG’s landmark 1917
administration building, designed by McKim, Mead & White.
While steel was optimal for the asymmetrical geometry and for
providing a versatile column-free space layout, structural design
was still a delicate and constant balancing act to keep the project
from becoming prohibitively expensive. (Architectural concrete
was used for exposed walls and other elements, and conventional
concrete for unexposed foundation walls, slabs and footings.) For
the steel framing system, Weidlinger’s main strategies were to
simplify the building’s geometry, reduce the cantilever span of
roof rafters and reduce the total weight of the steel. Twenty-nine
straight grid lines, each with a different angle, were used in the
building’s short direction, and 10 curved grid lines were used in
the long direction.
Steel helps a new botanic garden visitor center
blend in with its natural, leafy surroundings.
BY CHENG GU, P.E., PH.D., AND
TIAN-FANG JING, P.E.
Photos: Weidlinger Associates, Inc.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 31
Straight vs. Curved
The topography of the curved roof structure became an
interplay of straight and curved steel. The aim was to produce as
smooth a curve as possible while using as many straight elements
as possible, in order to reduce cost. Twenty-nine partially exposed,
hollow structural section (HSS) rigid frames with full-penetration
welded moment connections form the backbone of the superstruc-
ture. One important, budget-conscious decision was to support the
warped roof deck with straight bent rafters rather than with arches
that followed the curvature of the roof. The spans of the rafters
range from 12 ft to 36 ft, each one with a different slope.
For the roof, a 16-gage 1½-in.-deep roof deck made the most
sense, because it was shallow enough to warp in one direction (to
produce the curved shape), but its gage was heavy enough to sup-
port the saturated soils and plants of the green roof.
A serpentine C12r25 architecturally exposed steel chan-
nel at the perimeter of the roof, highlighting the leaf shape,
was an additional challenge. The channel weaves along the
building’s edge, functioning at various points as a roof edge,
steel trellis and the stringer of a cantilevered ornamental stair.
It was coated frst with a Platt Zinc 85/15 shop primer, then
with Tnemec Epoxiline N69F shop intermediate coat and
fnally with a Tnemec 1081 Endurashield top coat. To increase
constructability and reduce cost, it was divided into 50 seg-
ments rather than 100 segments by interconnecting each one
to three HSS outriggers.
Long vs. Short
The building is 320 ft long but varies in width along its entire
length, giving it an unorthodox shape. At the building’s eastern
end, it is approximately 60 ft wide; at its western end, the two sides
gradually converge to a point. Construction sequencing was cru-
cial because access, only 4 ft in some places, was diffcult. While
the longest possible cantilevered roof rafters were preferred by the
architect, length added cost and increased the diffculty of smooth-
ing the C12 channel. In the fnal design, the spans of the cantile-
vers were scaled back to about 10 ft in an effort to be to be more
cost-effcient, without compromising aesthetics.
Precise vs. Tolerant
Another challenging structural task was attaining the required
tolerances for the C12 channel connections to the roof structure,
which consists of various regions with different cantilevers and
loads. In the initial design, precise ½-in. fat-head bolts were sup-
posed to connect the channel to the HSS outriggers. The toler-
ance adjustment was made from the steel setting blocks behind
the channel on the assumption that the channel would be the last
element to connect to the structure after the roof was fully loaded.
Cheng Gu is an associate and Tian-Fang Jing is a principal, both
with Weidlinger Associates, Inc. Gu, the project manager for the
Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, has worked with Jing on
many cable-supported fabric roofs and other long-span and special
structures in the U.S. and worldwide. Currently, they are collaborat-
ing on an upgrade of the Javits Center curtain wall and space-frame
roof. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and tian-fang.
The upper breezeway of the building.
The structure features a 280-ft-long, 10,000-sq.-ft living roof garden.
The leaf-shaped exhibition and events pavilion.
32 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
During the contractor’s bid walk-through, however, the plan was altered
to install the channel via welding, which was the steel erector’s preferred
method of installation. This required revisiting the 3D SAP models and
the roof-edge defections, resulting in a different “high-set” at the canti-
lever tips to cancel the defections under normal dead load. In the fnal
confguration, puddle welds replaced the fat-head bolts in the connection
details. As the loads of the green roof vary through dry and wet seasons, the
roof edge will defect within ¼-in., which is not visually noticeable.
HSS vs. W-Shapes
A custom-made curving glass canopy was used to create a covered
breezeway that partially shades the entry plaza. The canopy is composed of
46 ceramic, fritted, low-iron, laminated glass units, which allow natural light
to pass through it. Two types of trellis grids support the canopy: HSS8r4 lon-
gitudinal with HSS5r2 cross members for the longer sections; and HSS6r4
longitudinal with HSS4r2 cross members for the shorter ones. These were
all fully shop-welded and installed between the HSS10r6 steel outriggers that
penetrate through the glazed curtain wall. Between the HSS rigid frames for
the rest of the roof, a system of wide-fange fller beams expedite warping of
the steel deck. The beams use light W10r12 elements wherever possible and
heavy W6r25 elements when ceiling height is restricted. The majority of the
canopy’s steel members are straight.
Exposed vs. Concealed
The decision to expose more of the structure was due to budgetary rea-
sons, but there were also secondary gains. Some heavy HSS12r6 roof raf-
ters, which were originally concealed behind the architectural fnish, were
replaced by light HSS18r6r
⁄16 rafters, exposed at the bottom. The benefts
were reduced cost, a stiffer roof structure and embellishment of the leaf-
patterned ceiling with visually interesting branched ribs. The gift shop’s HSS
columns and bend rafters were also exposed, as were its hanging grids for
The building entrance during construction...
...and after completion.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 33
ducts and lighting, another aesthetic plus. The
building’s architecturally exposed HSS10r6
columns, which march east to west in a cur-
vilinear confguration, are reminiscent of the
rows of ginkgo trees on the berm.
Stand-alone vs. Integrated
An integrated approach involving close
collaboration among architects, engineers
and contractors produced a splendid jewel,
but one that is understated, well integrated
and sustainable. The overall $28 million proj-
ect construction cost was relatively modest,
considering that it also included soil removal,
site improvements, new utilities, landscaping
and green roof plantings. This investment in
building and infrastructure should increase in
social and economic value over time.
Weidlinger’s civil engineering team
also contributed to the project’s long-term
worth. Twenty-eight geothermal wells
were installed to help the building breathe
and cycle with a reduced energy consump-
tion. Three bioinfltration basins were
constructed at the front entry plaza and
rear garden plaza of the building to retain
stormwater and flter it to the adjacent Japa-
nese Hill-and-Pond Garden, facilitating the
garden’s larger ecosystem. These sustain-
able measures allowed the team to apply for
LEED Gold certifcation.
A fnal highlight of the project, which
further demonstrates its seamless integration
with the overall landscape: From the entry
plaza on Washington Avenue, the building
seems to be a simple one-story structure, but
despite its transparency, it guards a “secret.”
Following the path under the glass-lit trel-
lis toward the garden, a visitor can climb an
exterior curved staircase to an overlook land-
ing outside the events space, for a view of the
building’s double-pitched copper roof and the
Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Structurally,
the curved steel stairway is connected to the
outrigger of a pedestrian bridge that creates an
upper terrace level cutting through the events
space and exhibition gallery. Crossing this
upper breezeway is a hidden path under the
green roof that leads to the top of the newly
planted berm and Gingko Allée, and then to
the hilltop Overlook with all-encompassing
views of the 52-acre Garden.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Landscape/Urbanism, New York
Weidlinger Associates, Inc., New York
The LiRo Group, New York
E.W. Howell, New York
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34 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
THEY TRAVELED FROM ONE COAST to the other for
The University of California, Berkeley took frst place in the
21st annual ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Com-
petition (NSSBC), held Memorial Day weekend at Clemson
University, S.C. The team of structural engineering students
won with their entry, ApoCALypse. The Massachusetts Institute
of Technology team took second place, and third place went to
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. (Full
results, both overall and for each category, are available at
The win, the second in UC Berkeley’s history of competing
in the NSSBC, was a miraculous turnaround from their perfor-
mance last year, when their bridge failed the lateral load test.
“Everyone was motivated and resilient this year after what
happened last year,” said Sabrina Odah, bridge project manager
for the UC Berkeley team. “We didn’t let that failure break us.
We all had the sense that this was our year.”
“I’m proud of this team of hard-working, enthusiastic stu-
dents who designed and constructed their bridge very smartly
and effciently and had an excellent preparation for the national
competition,” said Marios Panagiotou, an assistant professor of
structural engineering in UC Berkeley’s Civil and Environmen-
tal Engineering (CEE) department and faculty advisor for the
team. “They deserved the best and I am happy they got it.”
NSSBC, a joint effort between AISC and the American Society
of Civil Engineers, started as a regional competition in the upper
Midwest in the mid-1980s and grew into a national competition by
1992. The teams—there were 47 this year, compiled of more than
550 students—are narrowed down from nearly 200 teams.
To reach Clemson, these teams had to be among the best
in 18 conference competitions around the country—and even
the world, as teams from Canada, Mexico and for the frst time,
China, were selected for the national competition. They were
judged in six categories: construction speed, stiffness, lightness,
economy, display and effciency; the best combined score across
all six categories wins. (UC Berkeley took the top spot in two
categories: construction speed and economy.) Every year, the
design parameters change slightly to meet the Problem State-
ment, which this year was to design and build a new bridge to
provide vehicle access to a lodge, as well as to support utili-
ties under the deck; clearance under the bridge was necessary
to prevent damage by fash foods. This year’s entries were re-
quired to be 23 ft long and capable of carrying 2,500 lb.
On Friday afternoon, the teams participated in the display
portion of the competition, and all of the bridges were assem-
Geoff Weisenberger is the
senior editor of MSC. You can
reach him at weisenberger@
Photos: Courtesy of Clemson University
BY GEOFF WEISENBERGER
Cal-Berkeley’s steel bridge team
wins the 21st annual NSSBC.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 35
bled for public display and judging. This segment provided a
chance for student teams to display and share their innova-
tions, as well as learn how other teams approached the design
and fabrication of their bridges.
“I was surprised that even though all teams are using the same
set of rules, each team had a unique solution to the problem,”
said Scott D. Schiff, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering at
Clemson and the faculty advisor for the Clemson team and
Clemson Chapter of SEA of South Carolina.
On Friday evening, the National Rules Committee (which
develops and modifes the competition rules each year) hosted
a captains’ meeting to provide one last opportunity for teams
to get clarifcations on the rules related to the assembly or
load testing of their bridges. In parallel with the meeting, the
other members of the steel bridge teams had the opportunity
to showcase their “Fe” knowledge in a quiz bowl sponsored
by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and
Surveying. After both, the teams had a little time to relax and
enjoy a BBQ dinner and ice cream sundaes.
“Saturday’s competition is always a bit nerve-racking for
the teams,” said Schiff. “They’ve spent many months prepar-
ing for this event and any mistakes by the builders in the ‘one-
chance’ assembly of their bridge during the timed competi-
tion, or issues in the design or performance of their bridge,
can be very costly.”
This year, streaming video cameras were set up so that specta-
tors could watch the competition over the Internet. Over 2,000
people watched and commented on Saturday’s competition,
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (top) and University of
Louisiana, Lafayette (bottom) teams, during the assembly portion.
University of Akron team members race against the clock.
and more than 100 representatives from the steel industry or the
structural and civil engineering design communities were also in
attendance as either national or local sponsors of the competition,
volunteer judges to oversee the competition activity or members of
the National Rules Committee. Many of these industry represen-
tatives have been involved with the competition for years.
“This year was my return back to judging after an enjoyable
four-year term on the rules committee,” said judge Renee Cart-
er Whittenberger, P.E., a bridge engineer in Akron, Ohio and a
former NSSBC team captain herself. “I noticed that my judging
experience was much different this year as compared to my pre-
vious years judging, having now participated in the writing of
the rules. As it turns out, by 10 a.m. I had earned the reputation
as the toughest enforcer of the rules on the foor!”
The planning efforts of the Clemson University host com-
mittee, in cooperation with the National Rules Committee,
resulted in Saturday’s competition being completed in record
time. By 4:00 p.m., all teams were back at their hotels and get-
ting ready for the NSSBC Banquet and Awards Ceremony.
The banquet provided an opportunity to recognize the sponsors
of the event and the staff and volunteers that organized the compe-
tition. There were two keynote presentations, one focused on the
structural steel design of the Boeing Facility in Charleston, S.C. and
the other focused on the use of structural steel in accelerated bridge
construction. Following these presentations, the awards for both the
individual categories and the overall competition were announced.
“It’s exciting to watch the next generation of structural en-
gineers come together and work with such passion and enthu-
siasm,” said Nancy Gavlin, AISC director of education. “This
year’s bridge posed diffcult challenges that the students faced
with ingenuity and professionalism.”
“All of the competitors brought their best to Clemson, and rep-
resented themselves well,” said Matthew Cataleta, principal labora-
tory mechanician for UC Berkeley’s CEE department lab and the
lab staff advisor for the team. “At the same time that they competed
with each other, they also all seemed very open to the sharing of
their ideas and proud of the individual efforts that they made to
meet the challenges of the competition.”
For more information on the NSSBC, visit www.aisc.
org/steelbridge or www.nssbc.info.
The University of California, Berkeley team, overall winners, at
the awards banquet.
36 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
What's Cool in
THE OLYMPIC MOTTO is “Swifter, Higher, Stronger.”
And one of the many representations of this motto
at London’s 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games takes
shape in the form of a 376-ft-tall (114.5 m) spiraling red
steel sculpture that dominates the East London skyline and
offers visitors panoramic views of the city.
The sculpture, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, will house a
viewing platform, create 50 new jobs and is expected to
generate £10 million ($15.5 million) each year in revenue,
continuing the Olympic legacy after the Games close. It’s
the tallest sculpture in Britain and harnesses steel sourced
from every continent where ArcelorMittal has operations.
(As a Tier 2 sponsor of the Games, ArcelorMittal donated
£19.6 million [$30.7 million] and the 2,000 tons of steel to
create the sculpture.)
Sitting between the Stadium and the Aquatics Centre, it
will serve as a beacon of Olympic Park during the Games
(and then Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, as the area will be
known after the Games). Construction took 18 months.
Taller than Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty, the design
is the largest artistic commission in the world, and was con-
ceived and designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond.
Kapoor, known as one of the world’s leading artists, has been
recognized for his use of rich pigment and imposing yet
popular works, such as the Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Mil-
lennium Park (better known as “The Bean”) and his recent
show at the Royal Academy, the most successful exhibition
ever presented by a contemporary artist in London.
Balmond is well known for his innovative work on
some of the greatest contemporary buildings in the world,
such as the CCTV building in Beijing, as well as many
Serpentine Gallery Pavilion commissions (visit www.
serpentinegallery.org for more information).
“Anish and I were conscious from the beginning that
the ArcelorMittal Orbit would be a lasting legacy to the
city, and so we wanted to stretch the language of the icon as
far as we could go,” said Balmond. “The Orbit is a hybrid,
a network of art and structure, and its dynamic is the non-
linear. You read into it multiple narratives in space.”
The monument’s steel construction required state-of-
the-art engineering and architectural techniques that can
withstand London’s weather as well as serve millions of
visitors. “The ArcelorMittal Orbit could only be built in
steel, to give the minimum thickness and the maximum
strength,” explained Balmond. “I didn’t consider any other
material because you couldn’t make this coiling structure
with anything else.”
Cool Olympic Tower
Spiraling Above London
BY SUNNY OH, EXTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER,
38 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 39
Visitors will be able to reach the top of the struc-
ture via elevator, although they will be encouraged to
walk down the spiral staircase, which has 455 steps
and has been designed to enable the guests to expe-
rience the feeling that they are orbiting around the
structure as they descend it.
“I am absolutely delighted that construction is now
complete and I would like to thank the project team
for making this possible and for their work on what is
technically a very challenging project,” said Kapoor.
“I am looking forward to the Olympics when visitors
to the Park will be able to go up the Orbit for the frst
time, and I am delighted that members of the public
will be able to interact with the work in this way.”
After the Olympic and Paralympic Games and
following a period of transformation, the Orbit will
serve as a visitor attraction, with ticketed viewing
from the observation decks and a compelling venue
for private functions. It will be able to accommo-
date around 5,000 visitors a day, with the potential
to attract around one million people during its frst
year of operation. It will have the capacity to accom-
modate between 400–600 visitors per hour, including
full wheelchair access.
The Orbit will light up East London with its 250
color spotlights. Each can be individually controlled
to produce a stunning digital combination of static
and animated effects, including a 15-minute moving
light show every evening of the Games.
Facts about the ArcelorMittal Orbit
¢ It is the tallest sculpture in the U.K.
¢ The structure is 22 m (72 ft) taller than the Statue of
¢ If it was a vertical tower (with all the loops ﬂattened
out), it would be taller than the Eiffel Tower.
¢ Around 35,000 bolts and 19,000 liters (about 5,019
gallons) of paint were used.
¢ On a clear day, visitors to the Orbit will be able to
see more than 20 miles from the viewing platform.
¢ Four ArcelorMittal employees will carry the Olympic
ﬂame during the torch relay to launch London 2012.
¢ Forty-seven carefully chosen ArcelorMittal employ-
ees will form part of the 70,000-strong volunteer
team. These “Games Makers” will support a range
of Olympic and Paralympic events.
40 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
BUILT ON A BROWNFIELD SITE ripe for rehabilitation, the
new Olympic Park on London’s northeast side is sporting a
whole new infrastructure this summer. Millions of visitors are
expected between late July and early September for the Lon-
don 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and 23 new bridges
are among the facilities helping them make their way into and
around Olympic Park. One particularly interesting and unusual
bridge, known as L01 or the Ruckholt Road Bridge, combines
the mechanics of a tied arch with Vierendeel girder construction
to provide a highly effcient structure with a light and airy look.
Newly constructed for the Games, the all-steel Bridge L01 is
the primary northern gateway to the new Olympic Park. Elegant
in both appearance and concept, it provides a pedestrian and cycling
link from parking in the Northern Spectator Transport Mall, which
also is a key access point for coaches, taxis and disabled visitors.
The design architect, London-based Allies and Morrison,
and structural engineer Atkins, also based in London, used a
sophisticated iterative design process to create a highly effcient
structure with slender arch members.
The architectural design of the footbridge called for an
extremely slender arch spanning 137 ft, with a dense distri-
bution of steel plate hangers, or slats. Each arch rib consists
of 15¾-in.-wide by 3½-in.-thick (400-mm by 90-mm) steel
plates that were pre-bent to the curvature of the arch and
welded end-to-end. The vertical slats are 5¼-in.-wide, 1-in.-
thick (135-mm by 25-mm) plates, with the longest being 11 ft,
1¼ in. (3,385 mm). Located on 5¼-in. (135-mm) centers, the
slats connect the deck and arch through
∕16-in. (8-mm) fllet
welds at top and bottom.
The 18-ft-wide (5.5-m) steel deck consists of two 22
wide by 11¾-in.-deep (550-mm by 300-mm) edge box sec-
tions with transversely spanning “T” ribs welded to the edge
boxes at 21¼-in. (540-mm) centers to form part of the U-frame
restraining system for the arch members. The edge box sections
were fabricated from 1
∕8-in. (40-mm) plate. Each T-section
consists of two 10¾-in.-wide, 1-in.-thick plates (275 mm by 25
mm) welded together. The deck is topped with a 4¼-in.-thick
(110-mm), at minimum, concrete wearing course fnished with
resin-bound aggregate surfacing and a waterproof coating.
The original concept also had the arch member unconnected
to the deck below deck level, but the long free length of the slender
compression member proved unfeasible. A number of options for
restraining it were considered. The fnal solution: Continue the
vertical slats below the deck to restrain the arch. However, because
these would be acting in compression, a solid plate was provided
to restrain the vertical slats. For additional stability, cross bracing
between the two arches was provided below the deck.
Analysis of the bridge also showed that in some loading situa-
tions, a number of the shorter slats above the deck would be acting
in compression. Because the buckling resistance of these fat plate
elements is extremely low, a solid plate was provided to restrain the
slats in this region as well.
A 7-in.-wide, 1-in.-thick (175-mm by 25-mm) plate serves as a
handrail for the entire length of the bridge. For most of the span,
where it is below the arch, it is welded directly to the vertical slats
and offers restraint against buckling. At each end of the span, addi-
tional matching slats support the parapet rail from where it crosses
the arch to the end of the bridge.
Cool Olympic Bridge
Creative Design, Champion Performance
BY HUGH CORRIGAN, CIVIL ENGINEER, ATKINS, LONDON
L01 is the 137-ft-long (42-m) northernmost bridge in London’s new
Olympic Park. It was planned as a vital link for pedestrians heading to
and from the northern transport mall.
One of Europe’s largest cranes was brought in to lift Bridge L01 into
place over Ruckholt Road at the northern end of Olympic Park.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 41
The deck itself is integrally connected to the foundations,
which comprise reinforced concrete abutment walls on piles. In
constructing the bridge, it was set on temporary support towers
prior to placement of the top concrete section. That allowed
the ends of the edge beams to be anchored into the concrete
abutment via thrust plates and shear connectors.
From Box to Bow
The bridge design began as a basic box girder structure and
ultimately morphed into a beautiful bowstring arch bridge.
Although it was designed to current British Standards Institu-
tion standards, these provided little guidance on how to account
for buckling arched structures.
To validate and optimize the design, engineers modeled
the bridge using elastic critical buckling analysis to determine
member slenderness, as well as the structure’s global buckling
modes and susceptibility. The lateral restraint provided by the
steel deck plate was not included in the structural model, but the
section of handrail welded to the vertical slats was included.
Careful consideration was required in modeling the founda-
tions, as the bridge is integral with them, and the fxity to the
foundations and foundation stiffness had a signifcant impact
on the structural behavior. The abutment walls were modeled
using a grillage of beam members, and forces from the soil pres-
sure were applied to the structural model as an applied load.
The pile foundations were modeled using spring elements with
an appropriate stiffness.
The arch ribs are necessarily very slender and rely heavily
on the vertical slats for their stability, so one of the key issues in
the design was accurately assessing global buckling effects. The
structure was susceptible to two main modes of global buckling:
in-plane and out-of-plane. The critical mode varied, depend-
ing on the exact dimensions chosen for the main structural
components, the foundation design parameters and the load-
ing applied. The critical mode of buckling changed throughout
the design iteration process as dimensions of different elements
were varied and the arch profle was fnalized.
In its fnal form, the bridge’s in-plane buckling mode involved
the arch and deck and was critical for temperature loading on
the structure. The out-of-plane mode involved only the arch
and was critical for pedestrian loading effects.
The out-of-plane buckling of the arch is resisted by the slats
through U-frame restraint. The resistance to in-plane buckling
provided by the vertical slats is higher than might be expected for
such a slender arch profle. Although each individual slat provides
little stiffness, by acting together at 5¼-in. (135 mm) spacing they
provide signifcant restraint to the arch through the moment con-
nections at each end and force the deck and arch to act together.
Construction of Bridge L01 began in May of 2010 and was
completed this past March. The 137-ft-long, 18-ft-wide steel
structure was fabricated in Wales. Shipped in several pieces,
it was welded together on-site prior to being lifted into place.
One of Europe’s largest cranes was brought in for the lift, which
occurred in November 2010.
The parapet rail on Bridge L01
is welded to each of the vertical
slats, beyond which can be seen
the adjacent temporary bridge
erected to provide increased
capacity during the Games.
Viewed from this angle, the vertical slats connecting the
arches with the deck appear to be a solid wall.
42 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
GOETHE’S METAPHOR of architecture as “frozen music” emphasizes the
tight relationship between architecture and music in performance spaces.
And it is beautifully illustrated by the Sun Valley Pavilion, a grand perfor-
mance chamber in which the structure becomes a musical instrument itself.
The Pavilion is located on the southwestern end of the central campus
at the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho, considered one of America’s preeminent
ski resorts. When we were invited to design our latest music pavilion at
Sun Valley, we understood that the Sun Valley Summer Symphony and
the Sun Valley Resort wanted a structure that combined the seasonal and
ephemeral quality of a summer tent that they had previously rented, with a
more permanent facility that could accommodate the theatrical and acous-
tic requirements for the orchestra. In short, they wanted an outdoor feel-
ing in a state-of-the-art performance facility.
Of course, being at a ski resort means lots of snow. Having designed per-
manent and seasonal outdoor performing arts facilities for thirty years, we
immediately realized that the local snow load requirements would not allow
for a permanent tent-like fabric structure and that the facility was too big for a
smaller seasonal roof that needed to be dismantled each winter. What to do?
Inspired by the grand natural setting of valleys and mountains, we started
with the terrain and used two stone retaining walls rising to an apex, creating
a stage area that combines an intimate sense of place and melding with the
landscape. The sky and mountains are captured by a free-fowing roof, com-
prised of two parts: a seasonal luminous tensile membrane covering 1,500
seats and a permanent steel cable net with wood cladding and a copper roof-
ing, which provides cover over the stage and support facilities.
In the past, we had used fabric cable nets when we needed to take snow
loads, but 100 lb. per sq. ft, with drifting of up to 200 lb. in some areas, is a
pretty tall order. Working with the architect, Ruscitto Latham Blanton, we
started thinking of alternative materials. If we replaced the fabric with a steel
cable net and used wood to take on the high vertical loads, we felt we had a
chance. Using a series of three-cord 10-in.-diameter steel pipe trusses with
varying wall thicknesses, we created both the 70-ft-high proscenium arch and
Cool Concert Venue
Music in the Mountains
BY NICHOLAS GOLDSMITH, FAIA, SENIOR PRINCIPAL,
FTL DESIGN ENGINEERING STUDIO, NEW YORK
The steel cable net being attached to the steel framing
Pfeiffer cast connections with Galfan full-locked cable,
including adjustable clevises.
Opening-day performance of the Sun Valley Symphony in the Pavilion. ¢
Courtesy of RLB Architects
Courtesy of RLB Architects
Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
the backstage framing (fabricated by AISC
Member/AISC Certifed Fabricator Jesse
Engineering, Tacoma, Wash.) to contain the
boundary of the cable net. The trusses had
angles welded to them to accept the roof
cladding, which was applied later after the
tursses were installed. We were then able to
place sleepers on a series of metal “shoes”
attached to the cable net nodes. The shoes
consisted of galvanized formed plates on an
upstand, which were mounted to the cable
net's machined steel nodes. Above these
sleepers, a shiplap Douglas Fir cladding is
supported and patterned on the diagonal so
as to remain in straight lines and not require
The cable net consisted of 1-in.-diameter
Galfan locking stand cables within a 2-ft by
4-ft spacing (2 ft for the downward pressures
and 4 ft for the uplift). At each intersection
was a four-section wire rope clamp that
attached the cables to the metal shoes
and wood sleepers. In total the cable net
consisted of 82 individual cables.
When it came to acoustics, the wood
acted much like the inside of a violin, giving
resonance and brightness to the space. To
enhance this effect, we worked with acous-
tician Jaffe Holden and theater consultants
Auerbach Pollock & Friedlander to develop
the fnal seating layout and an overhead light-
ing grid, which was integrated into a hanging
wooden acoustic shell. This shell consisted of
lightweight steel trusses framed with adjust-
able wooden panels that can be tuned for
different acoustical applications. Sporting
a highly engineered amplifcation system,
sound emanates from the stage, passing seam-
lessly through great spans of techno-textile
membrane to the outer lawn, which hosts an
additional seating area for 2,000.
For the audience area, we designed a soft
tensile membrane roof of PVC polyester,
which is installed each year in the spring and
removed in the fall; this gives the facility the
sense of an outdoor room. The membrane
roof was designed as a tensile structure and
an extension of the cable net using undulat-
ing folded radial-wave geometry. The fabric
membrane uses steel cable edges and steel
membrane plates, which collect both the
tensile and slip loads of the membrane and
transfer them to the supporting steelwork
below. Below the fabric itself is a hanger
cable, which applies the fnal prestress to the
membrane resisting the upward wind pres-
sures. The tensile roof is designed to require
no support structures, giving all of the 1,500
seats an unobstructed view of the stage.
By using the steel cable net and the ten-
sioned membrane as two interdependent
elements, the entire roof structure works
together as a new milestone in the develop-
ment of a tensile architecture.
View of shiplap fir attached to wooden sleeper and steel truss, with steel cable net below.
View from the lawn of the Pavilion at night.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 43
Interior view of the performance stage and
overhead acoustic shell.
Fabrication of steel trusses with jig at Jesse
Engineering in Tacoma, Wash.
Courtesy of RLB Architects
Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
Courtesy of Sun Valley Resort
Courtesy of Jesse Engineering
44 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
A Classic, Reinvented
BY C.J. RILEY, P.E., PH.D., ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, AND
SEAN ST.CLAIR, PH.D., P.E., ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR,
DEPARTMENT OF CIVIL ENGINEERING, OREGON INSTITUTE
OF TECHNOLOGY, KLAMATH FALLS, ORE.
LAST OCTOBER, AISC's Steel Sculpture turned 25. Since its
beginnings in 1986 this teaching sculpture has been installed, in
varying forms, at more than 130 locations around the world (see
MSC 10/2011, p. 20). The original purpose of the sculpture (above,
inset), as designed by Duane Ellifritt, was to help engineering stu-
dents better understand structural steel by exemplifying the many
methods of steel framing and their corresponding connections.
For more than fve years, the Civil Engineering Depart-
ment faculty at Oregon Institute of Technology wanted to add
one of these sculptures to the school’s campus in Klamath Falls.
Knowing that their students could beneft greatly by seeing and
touching—and in some cases deconstructing and constructing—
various connections, the faculty sought funding sources to build
the sculpture and began collecting components.
While some small commitments and in-kind donations were
made over the course of a few years, the windfall support to com-
plete the project came from a very timely source. Owens Hall, the
building that houses the Civil Engineering Department, was due for
deferred maintenance in the form of asbestos abatement and seismic
retrofts at the same time that federal stimulus funds became avail-
able. As this resulted in a much larger capital project, it triggered
Oregon’s Percent for Art program, which required that 1% of the
project’s budget be spent on public art in or around the building.
The program required a rigorous process coordinated by a
representative of the Oregon Arts Commission—and involving a
committee of architects, educators, students and artists—that led
to the eventual selection of a local artist. Lee Imonen, a sculptor
and art teacher at Lane Community College in Eugene, Ore.,
was chosen for his experience with large, construction-style art
that focuses on its place in the community and the environment.
Imonen’s vision for the sculpture resulted in a fnal design that
would serve two purposes. The frst was to follow Ellifritt’s original
idea of teaching structural steel connections; the sculpture incorpo-
rates 24 different types of steel connections. As the connections in
the sculpture actually carry load, shear connections, moment con-
nections and splices are placed where they are most appropriate and
where analysis can also consider the load side of the equation. With
the breadth of connection types from the original Ellifritt sculpture
now provided in a format that requires structural analysis, this new
version of sculpture is an valuable tool for improving the instruction
of steel design for hundreds of civil engineering students at Oregon
Tech. It can also be used as a basis for analysis and design prob-
lems in courses other than steel design, such as statics, engineering
mechanics, structural analysis and even concrete foundation design.
The sculpture’s second purpose is to serve as a place-based, artis-
tic metaphor for the Klamath River basin, and virtually every ele-
ment represents something. For starters, the sculpture includes a
suspended basin that is roughly the same shape as the Klamath basin.
This suspended form is covered in a patchwork of aluminum plates
representing the rural community’s patchwork of farms and land
and the heavily engineered nature of the Klamath River watershed.
The basin has a fracture in it, symbolic of the sometimes combative
and opposing nature of the people and politics of the Klamath Basin,
as well as the volcanic history of the area that formed the shape of
Photos, except above inset: Courtesy of Oregon Tech
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 45
the surrounding earth. As with the river basin, the metal basin
serves to collect and distribute water downward (or down-
stream). Water, and who owns the rights to it, has long been
a contentious issue in the Klamath basin. Historically, conficts
over water have taken place between native tribes, farmers and
ranchers and environmentalists who wish to protect the wildlife
that depend upon the water. These three infuences are rep-
resented by the three HP14x89 structural steel columns and
W8x35 and W6x12 cantilevered beams that hold the basin and
its water aloft and in tension via ½-in. galvanized steel cables.
Each column pulls the water in its own direction, and yet each is
necessary to keep the water from being lost altogether. In terms
of equilibrium, the columns both support the basin and depend
upon it for stability. In fact, dead load moments at the base of
each column are zero as a result of Imonen’s choice of 7.5° for
the slope of the columns, based on aesthetic considerations, a
serendipitous detail confrmed by the authors during design.
Numerous other historical representations, such as wagon
wheels and logging derricks, can be found in the sculpture,
honoring the region’s past while looking toward the future.
Ultimately, the entire structure is a metaphor for the
delicate balance of the area’s natural resources. It provides
an opportunity to teach not only technical topics, but also
important concepts regarding sustainability and the envi-
ronment. Steel, in this form, is not merely a structural
material with connections to be comprehended, but also a
piece of the complex ongoing experiment of society.
While the erection of the sculpture was relatively simple,
it involved a number of different groups. The main structural
members were lengths of HP14x89 donated by Hamilton
Construction of Springfeld, Ore. (an AISC Member Fabrica-
tor). Imonen split and re-welded them to give them the tapered
look and provide another opportunity to discuss the challenge
of connecting steel to steel. Precision Structural Engineers, in
Klamath Falls, donated time to review and seal the construc-
tion drawings. The university’s facilities department and the
faculty members involved donated time for design, permit-
ting and inspection. Students participated in the base-plate and
foundation design and drafting, and local ready-mix companies
offered to pump and place the foundation concrete at cost. The
collaboration between students, professors, engineers, contrac-
tors and artists is what made this project such a success.
BASIN: A Steel Connections Teaching Sculpture (the
sculpture’s formal title) was installed on the Oregon Tech
campus in the summer of 2011. While it has a very dif-
ferent look and style than the original Ellifritt sculpture,
it still serves the purpose of helping students to visualize
complex steel connections—with the additional beneft
of helping them think beyond the technical and consider
more than just engineering, economy and effciency; it
encourages them to consider the social and environmental
impacts of their designs as well.
BASIN: A Steel Connections Teaching Sculpture. Inset: The AISC Steel
Top: A sketch of the sculpture. Middle: Lee Imonen, the sculpture's
The sculpture's dedication at Oregon Tech. ¢
46 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
BY SIMEON BRUNER, PRINCIPAL, BRUNER/COTT & ASSOCIATES, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
FEWDESKS WEIGH two tons.
But the front desk at Cambridge,
Mass.-based architecture frm Bruner/
Cott & Associates does.
The desk, which is made of struc-
tural steel, is the second of several pieces
of furniture that sculptor Mike Green
designed and built for the frm. Inspira-
tion came from B/CA’s work in reinvent-
ing historic mill buildings and showcas-
ing their industrial heritage.
“I wanted the desk to pay homage
to this and to the variety of textures and
forms common to construction sites
across the country,” says Green. Efforts
were made to minimize weight, doubling
edges and using thinner sheet where pos-
sible, without sacrifcing the visual impact
of the structural steel. Nevertheless, struc-
tural reinforcements were required for
the building to safely support the two-ton
desk, which is just over 4 ft tall and has a
9-ft x 10-ft workstation footprint.
The steel is a combination of new steel
and scrap steel, both wide-fange and sheet,
left over from the construction of the frm’s
new offce. The desk uses both welded and
riveted connections; some of the ¾-in. riv-
ets camoufage hidden bolt connections
(using bolts allowed the individual pieces
to ft in the elevator so that the desk could
be assembled in the offce). The desktop is
Southern Longleaf Pine reclaimed from
the Massachusetts Museum of Contempo-
rary Art, which is housed in a former fac-
tory building in North Adams. The top of
the outer section is granite.
Other pieces by Mike Green can be
seen on his website:
Photos: Mike Green
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 47
AS READERS OF MSC, you are no
doubt involved in using structural steel
to make buildings or bridges. I use it to
make tables and desks.
I'm an architect and sculptor and
have been working with steel for over 40
years. About fve years ago, I started mak-
ing furniture as custom pieces for archi-
Around that time I came upon a
24-in.-deep beam at a local steel facility
and had the idea of making table trestle
legs out of short lengths—so short I refer
to them as “slices.” Using these beam
cut-offs, the webs take compressive loads
and are positioned vertically and axially
to the length of the table. Because any
bending or vibration in the webs would
be amplifed at the tabletop edge, tension
rod stabilizers on both sides of the web
were a necessity. With their addition, the
trestle legs are rigid assemblies.
After making some prototypes for
myself and architectural clients, I patented
the stabilized beam trestle and began man-
ufacturing a series of tables that combine
steel beam trestles and hardwood tabletops.
I have my steel sawed at a nearby facilities,
where they are able to cut the 24-in. beams
to within 0.003 in. of my specifcation. I
purchase steel from service centers and
make all the prototypes in my shop and
employ area steel fabricators (such as AISC
Member Schenectady Steel) to make pro-
duction runs of the trestle components.
The length of the beam cut-off used in
each leg is determined by the bearing sur-
face needed for a strong bolted connection
between the top fanges and the stretcher
bars that tie the beam legs together. An
advantage of the design is that no low and
invasive stretcher bar is required to brace
the rigid trestle frame. In my large tables,
I use 3-in. lengths of W24r104. The web
thickness is ½ in. and the fanges are ¾
in. (This is the lightest available 24-in.
beam with 12-in. wide fanges that I know
of.) The fange width works to support a
variety of tabletop confgurations, but the
beam fange is not of suffcient width to
act as a foor support. I solved this by bolt-
ing the bottom fanges of the beam legs to
wider milled aluminum components.
Tie stabilizer rods are
stainless rounds that are threaded into the
lower fanges. The tension is adjusted by
nuts on the upper side of the top fange. By
changing the stabilizer rod tension, the top
beam fanges can be leveled—a necessity
because of asymmetries in the rolled sec-
tions. After a few prototypes, I fne-tuned
the design by canting the tension rods 1° off
vertical. Theoretically, the off-parallel layout
improves damping performance. But theo-
ries only go so far, so I opted for a tie layout
that widened toward the top, for aesthetic
reasons. In high tables, such as my Standing
Desk, I used a reverse confguration, widen-
ing the tie position on the lower fanges. I
often fnd that changing a single detail is the
key to a successful design, and these vertical
offsets were just the touch the tables needed
to move to another level.
I recently expanded my line to include
the City Desk (you can see all of my tables
at www.stollerworks.com). The stabi-
lized beam legs of these 62-in.-long tables
are 2-in. cut-offs and the desk weight is
just over 100 lb. The beam legs are tied by
break-bent 10-gauge steel stretchers that
enclose a wiring shelf, and the tabletop is
available with wiring ports, outlets and a
“pigtail” lead cord.
Under the Table
BY EVAN STOLLER, STOLLER WORKS, INC., NEW LEBANON, N.Y.
Left: Me, in my shop, where all prototypes
are made. Below: The Podium table, using
unstabilized W36 beam "slices."
48 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Bridge on Fire
BY JEFFREY THOMPSON, P.E., ASSOCIATE STRUCTURAL ENGINEER,
BURO HAPPOLD, NEWYORK
STEEL STACKS is transforming the largest privately owned
brownfeld site in the United States into an arts destination.
This new cultural and entertainment campus, at the site of
the former Bethlehem Steel plant, includes the 65,000-sq.-ft
ArtsQuest Center, which hosts live concerts and independent
flms year round, as well as the City of Bethlehem's Visitor
Center and a new outdoor music pavilion. At the center of it all
is a new sculpture that refects the site’s industrial history.
Artist Elena Colombo of Colombo Construction Corp.,
located in Brooklyn, N.Y., designed the new centerpiece. The
sculpture, called The Bridge, is an arching structure reminis-
cent of the steel bridges whose materials had been created at the
Bethlehem plant when it was still active. The design is relatively
simple: a 70-ft-long, 25-ft-tall curved steel plate (weighing 9
tons) that is tapered from 8 ft wide at the base to 3 ft wide at
the tip. A gas line supplies a blue fame along the upper portion
of the piece and recalls the fames of the former steel factory.
The sculpture curves above a newly constructed sidewalk and
roadway, with its tip pointing toward the new outdoor music
pavilion and existing steel stacks. The piece spans not only the
sidewalk, but also spans time, linking the history of Bethlehem
Steel to the present and future of ArtsQuest.
Structural engineers from the New York offce of interna-
tional engineering frm Buro Happold performed preliminary
calculations for strength and serviceability, taking into account
the scale of the proposed sculpture. Since the structure is out-
doors and exposed to winds, the dynamic performance and
overall safety of the sculpture became a concern. The engineers
realized that the artist’s design for a curved steel plate would
need reinforcement to meet the necessary strength and service-
ability requirements. This was especially important because the
gas line extends along the underside of the steel to ignite burn-
ers situated on the topside, which provide the 1-ft-high fame
along the length of the sculpture.
To stabilize the sculpture, the engineers constructed the steel
form using two parallel, arched and tapered box sections, sharing a
top and bottom fange near the base. The sections are tied together
by three vertical shear plates between inner box webs along the
length of the piece. The overall box dimensions at the base are 92
in. wide × 22 in. deep and taper as they rise, reaching 33 in. wide × 8
in. deep at the tip. Because the structure is exposed to the elements,
the engineers used ASTM A588 weathering steel.
The steel box sections are welded to a 2-in.-thick base plate
that weighs nearly 1.5 tons. The base plate is anchored to the
concrete foundation via 18 2-in.-diameter F1554 anchor bolts.
The primary concrete spread footing foundation is 16 ft wide by
21 ft long by 4 ft deep and is buried 1 ft below grade. A 24-ft by
24-ft by 8-in.-thick cantilever cast-in-place concrete slab creates
an elevated pedestrian viewing platform above the foundation.
Buro Happold performed a fnite element analysis following
the initial design in order to determine defections and moments.
The steel box structure acts as a cantilever beam that transfers
the vertical load to the foundation through bending and shear
stress. The engineers determined the depth of the steel box by
limiting the amount of defection at the tip to 8 in. under dead
loads and snow loads. They then optimized the box plate sizes to
provide the required bending capacity while respecting the local
buckling requirements for a slender fange under compression.
The bending moment is transferred to the foundation by a 2-in.-thick
steel base plate using tension in 2-in.-diameter anchor bolts and compres-
sion through base plate bearing. A cruciform-shaped shear lug embedded
8 in. into the concrete foundation supports horizontal shear forces. The
overturning moment of the sculpture is resisted by the self-weight of the
concrete spread footing below. The sculpture’s base is situated eccentri-
cally 5 ft from the spread footing centerline in order to mobilize both the
vertical reaction from the steel sculpture and the dead weight of the con-
crete pedestal into a restoring moment, partially counteracting the over-
turning moment from the sculpture itself.
Dealing with Dynamics
To verify the stability of the structure in high winds, wind-engineering frm
Cermak Peterka Petersen (CPP) evaluated the aerodynamic stability of the
structure. This was necessary due to the long length of the steel cantilever, the
artist’s request to make the piece as thin as possible and the sculpture’s proximity
to pedestrians. The wind engineers’ chief concern was the possibility of exces-
sive amplifcation of the dynamic response due to winds normal to the plane of
the arch. They evaluated the sculpture’s stability at multiple locations to account
for the tapered cross section along its length. The engineers established a mini-
mum probability of exceedance (EF) of 1.3 to compare the structure’s critical
wind speed to the 50-year design wind speed for wind-induced phenomena such
as vortex shedding, galloping, stall futter, classical futter and divergence.
As a result of the analysis, the wind engineers determined that the sculp-
ture could withstand wind speeds much higher than originally anticipated.
While some amplifed vertical vibration will likely occur due to vortex shed-
ding, the amplitude of vibrations and induced forces and stresses is small and
not likely to have any impact on the performance of the structure.
Fabrication and Erection
After the structural and aerodynamic analyses were completed, steel fabrica-
tor Amthor Steel of Erie, Pa. (an AISC Member) began the fabrication process
in February 2011. During fabrication, the box fange and web geometry were
laid out on large steel sheets and laser cut in a pattern to minimize the amount
of unused plate from each sheet. The box fange plates were then sent to the
mill for cold rolling to obtain the fnal curved geometry. In order to construct
the box, the inner webs were welded to the top and bottom fange with
continuous fllet welds on the inside face of the web. The outer web was then
connected to the fanges in the same way, working from the inside out.
The design team specifed locations for splices that join the separate pieces.
This allowed them to use the largest rolled sheet lengths available while still
limiting the total weight of each piece, making shop fabrication easier. The
separate bridge sections were spliced together in the shop using full penetra-
tion groove welds, which were ground smooth upon completion.
In July 2011, the entire bridge sculpture was shipped to the site in a
single truckload. It took less than six hours for a crane to hoist the sculp-
ture into place and for the crew to attach the sculpture’s base plate to the
Despite the challenges of producing an elegant and safe structure for
the Steel Stacks Town Square, focused coordination allowed the team to
create a sculpture that met both the artist’s aesthetic intent and the overall
budget for the $350,000 project ($200,000 of this came in the form of a
grant as part of the National Endowment for the Arts Mayors’ Institute on
City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative).
"The engineers at Buro Happold ensured the stability of the structure
without compromising my design,” said artist Elena Colombo. “They took
particular care to explain their process and involve me in all decisions, know-
ing that the line and elegance of the piece was of the utmost importance to
me—which, at times, was at odds with its structural requirements. I believe
we met at a perfect place between the left and right side of our brains. Their
assistance in creating this piece helped to turn a vision into reality.”
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 49
BY PEYMAN A. NEJAD, P.E., PH.D., DIRECTOR OF STRUCTURAL
ENGINEERING, GLOBAL CONSULTING ENGINEERING
PRACTICE, TJEG INTERNATIONAL, DUBAI, AND JEFF
SCHOFIELD, AIA, ASSOCIATE, RMJM DUBAI
IF YOU’RE GOING TO BUILD a signature tower for an
arts and exhibition center, you might as well shoot for the
Capital Gate, completed last year in Abu Dhabi, United
Arab Emirates, is the focal point of the Abu Dhabi National
Exhibitions Company’s (ADNEC) exhibition halls and Capi-
tal Centre—and with an 18° westward lean, holds the current
Guinness World Record for “world’s furthest leaning man-made
tower.” It is also the only building in the world that features two
diagrid systems: an external diagrid defning the tower’s shape
and an internal diagrid defning an atrium in the upper half of
Growing and Distorting
The 34-story, 160-m (525-ft) tower is a mixture of offces,
fve-star hotel suites and retail shopping. A 4-m (13.1-ft) foor-
to-foor height is maintained throughout the tower, with a few
exceptions, resulting in a consistent vertical arrangement of the
external structural diagrid.
As the tower rises, it grows and distorts toward the west.
The external diagrid is achieved with cross-braced frames
that extend two stories each for the full height of the tower.
It provides lateral stability (~30%) and acts as the perimeter
load-bearing element for the foor structures. The main lateral
stability element (~70%) is the central oval concrete core that
extends vertically for the full height of the tower. Between the
core and the external diagrid, two rows of steel columns rise
up to the mid-tower levels, and steel beams span between the
external diagrid and the concrete core, supporting composite
metal deck and concrete foor slabs. Since the foors follow the
diagrid as it shifts from its longitudinal axis, the outer row of
columns stops at the 13th foor and the inner row stops at the
The internal diagrid goes from the 18th foor to the roof
to form the atrium for the hotel foors and is also attached to
the core. Steel beams span directly between the external and
internal diagrids, creating column-free foor spaces, with typi-
cal spans about 12 m (39 ft) in length.
The building uses 13,000 metric tons (14,330 U.S. tons) of
structural steel in all. The framing system consists of 702 external
diagrid nodes (intersection of the members)—with the addition of 5
nodes of external dummy diagrids (for visual effect only) at the 18th
and 19th foors—and 120 internal diagrid nodes. At these intersect-
ing points, the HSS members meet with offsets in two axes, and
foor beams meet at the third axis along their surfaces. As none of
A cross-section of the tower, showing the internal and external diagrids
and the ovular concrete core (above). A view from the interior (below).
50 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Courtesy of RMJM
the panels are coplanar to one another, each node is unique and
formed with heavy, thick cruciform punched through the plates. In
order to minimize the member offsets at the nodal points, diagrid
members have been oriented by the “bisection of bisecting planes”
method (i.e., the division of diagrids into two equal or congruent
parts, usually by a line, which is then called a bisector).
The external diagrid is composed of square hollow structural
sections (HSS) 600 r 600 mm (23.6 in. r 23.6 in.). Each diagrid
member is a different length depending on the angle at which it
leans. The external diagrid members are made from welded steel
plates, 80 mm (3.15 in.) thick at the bottom foors, and progres-
sively thinning out to 40 mm (1.57 in.) at the top foors. Square
sections were chosen over circular sections to provide a fat surface
for the façade glazing mullions to attach and to keep the internal
and external diagrids in the same line. The connection node details
consist of crucifx plates welded to the intersecting cross-bracing
members and bolted to the external tie beam. Each node point
includes two frame members that extend from foor to foor, cre-
ating an “A” shaped piece that was fabricated off-site and erected
into position and welded (or bolted) on-site to the other installed
node assemblies. Each node has different end angles due to varying
geometries and dead load defections of the structure.
The internal diagrid around the atrium is made of round HSS
(400 mm [15.75 in.] in diameter and ranging in thickness from
16 mm to 32 mm [0.63 in. to 1.26 in.]) and is supported on deep
concrete beams that project from the central concrete core on
foors 17 and 18. While square HSS was used for the external
diagrid for practical purposes, aesthetics drove the selection of
round HSS for the internal diagrid. The internal node connec-
tion details are similar to those of the external diagrid.
The internal diagrid of the atrium.
The tower leans westward at 18°.
The 34-story tower is the focal point
of the largest exhibition center in
the Persian Gulf region.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 51
Photos this page: Courtesy of TJEG and RMJM
52 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Cool BIM Renovation
BIM’s Beneﬁts Proven in Providence
BY DAVID J. ODEH, P.E., VICE PRESIDENT AND PRINCIPAL,
ODEH ENGINEERS, INC.
WHILE MANY DESIGN
FIRMS are beginning to test
the waters of building infor-
mation modeling and others
are still staring at it appre-
hensively, some have jumped
Odeh Engineers, a full-
service structural engi-
neering consulting frm in
North Providence, R.I., is in
the latter group; since 2006,
the company has used BIM
technology for nearly all of
One of the frm’s latest
BIM projects is Brown University's Warren Alpert Medical School,
completed in 2011 and located in the heart of the school’s new
campus in the historic Jewelry District of Providence, R.I. The
project involved converting the original four-story, 1920s-era, cast-
in-place concrete industrial building (which was 137,000 sq. ft)
into a state-of-the art, LEED Gold (pending) medical education
building. The fnal project features two 150-seat (column-free)
lecture halls, large classrooms, anatomy labs and a new multi-story,
glass-enclosed atrium; it used 300 tons of structural steel.
The key structural issue the project presented was the need to
create open, airy spaces within a building that had closely-spaced
columns (19 ft on center in each direction) and low foor-to-foor
heights. The success of the renovation was dependent on the ability
to cost-effectively remove twelve large concrete columns (with drop
capitals) at the ground level to support the new program, without
diminishing the structure’s lateral and gravity load carrying capac-
ity. Odeh, with its design-build team partners Ellenzweig Architects
of Cambridge, Mass. and general contractor Suffolk Construction
of Boston, used Autodesk Revit and Navisworks to meet this design
goal, as these tools allowed them to explore multiple design options
by displaying all aspects of the structure and illustrating the struc-
tural issues. This in-depth modeling lead to a design that reduced
the demolition requirements as well as overall project cost.
In schematic design, Odeh created a 3D model of the existing
structure, then evaluated three options for structural modifcations.
The frst two options called for new steel beams and columns to sup-
port the existing structure, which was to remain, and/or new com-
posite deck slabs on metal deck. However, this would have required
extensive demolition and costly temporary shoring. In addition, the
transfer girders would have been very deep and resulted in unac-
ceptably low ceiling heights in the auditorium spaces.
So, Odeh developed and modeled a third option that involved
building new full-story-deep steel transfer trusses within the exist-
ing second foor space. Combined with the idea of “pre-loading”
the trusses by jacking them against the dead load of the upper foors
of the building, Odeh demonstrated that this option could achieve
the desired open space and ceiling heights for classrooms—with far
less demolition and almost no shoring. Leveraging the data in BIM,
the team quantifed the cost and schedule benefts of this approach
and created 3D animations and renderings to illustrate the feasibil-
ity of the design to the client.
The truss system uses W14 chords and HSS web members that
were small enough to thread through the existing building win-
dow openings and connect together with feld-welded through
plate connections. The new trusses bear on new W14 columns that
extend down through the existing foors to new mat foundations.
Once the completed trusses were in place, they were connected to
the tops of the existing concrete columns to be removed. Hydraulic
jacks were used to pre-defect the trusses downward, thus transfer-
ring the load of each column to the truss. With the trusses carrying
the load of the upper foors, the ground-foor columns could be
safely removed without any further defection of the upper foors.
The truss design yielded a 25% savings in weight when com-
pared to the other design options considered. The owner also real-
ized substantial savings in cost and schedule due to the elimina-
tion of the shoring required for the other options. The fnal cost
was $28.8 million, not including optional owner-directed changes,
compared to a budget of $29.6 million, and the project was com-
pleted in 18 months, on schedule.
View of the new atrium and grand
stair structures created by enclos-
ing the courtyard of the building.
The Warren Alpert Medical School project involved trans-
forming 1920s industrial space into a modern medical
One of Odeh’s 3D models of the medical school, created in
Autodesk Revit and showing new steel trusses.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 53
3.Pre-defned variables. Using
these, the user is able to design
new variables and specifc check-
ing rules to ft his/her needs.
This approach is used when
the above two are not suffcient
and was originally intended to
“teach” the program what to do.
for more information.
CASTALIA SRL, MILAN, ITALY, has been
developing structural steel-related software
since 1991. In 2008, the company released
CSE (Connection Study Environment), a
program that designs and checks steel con-
nections, and is now preparing to distribute
it outside of Italy for the frst time.
CSE is able to study, design and check
connections created by freely placing com-
ponents. This means that the program is
not using specifc, preprogrammed connec-
tions, but rather uses a general model that
is able to manage virtually every possible
Starting from a standard fnite ele-
ment model, which can be imported or
built inside the program, CSE recognizes
equal connections and lets the user con-
struct whatever connections they wish and
position bolts and welds where needed. A
database of typical connections is available
(presently including 270 families of con-
nections such as fn plates, end plates, base
plates, etc.), which the user can upgrade
by recording parameterized construc-
tion rules. Parameterized connections can
then be later built by just a few clicks and
adapted on-the-fy to suit the needs of the
project (i.e., dimensions are customizable).
The program also includes tools for
designing and checking generic connec-
tions. Broadly speaking, these checking
tools belong to three families.
1. Automatic checking rules. There
are several: weld and bolt resistance
and slip resistance checks, block tear,
contact bearing, net cross-sections
checks, anchorage and bearing no-
tension surface checks for bolt layouts
in bending, etc. The program is able
to automatically compute forces act-
ing inside joiners, starting from mem-
ber forces applied to member ends.
2. Elastic or elastic-plastic FEM
checks. CSE can prepare fnite element
models of single components, then run
them by using internal or external solv-
ers. Mesh size and quality may be pre-
set. This approach is further extended
to the connections as a whole.
Choose Your Own Connection
A complex, multiple-member connection,
rendered in Connection Study Environment.
54 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
The Water Tower as Beacon
ROOTFTOP WATER TOWERS can either stand out against or
blend in with the urban landscape, depending on your perspective.
There’s one in Brooklyn that you couldn’t miss from any
angle—nor would you want to.
To be fair, it’s actually a sculpture in the shape of a water
tower. Called Watertower, it is the creation of Brooklyn-based
artist Tom Fruin. The work opened in June, serving as the U.S.
premiere for (and fourth installment in) Fruin’s Icon series of
steel-and-Plexiglas sculptures, and will stand on the roof of 20
Jay Street in the Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge
Overpass) neighborhood in Brooklyn until next June.
The “tank” portion of Watertower is constructed from about
500 sq. ft of 7-gauge steel, which is welded into about 100 arced
panels that bolt together in a 10-ft-diameter cylinder with a
conical roof. (It even includes interior and exterior access ladders
and an operable roof hatch.) Filling in the steel framework are
roughly 1,000 pieces of discarded Plexiglas, salvaged from all over
New York City, to create a vibrant patchwork of color that is illu-
minated 24/7. Sunlight takes care of the lighting during the day
and controlled light sequences, provided by internally mounted
lighting fxtures, keep things going from dusk until dawn.
Structural steel is used for the support system. From the
top down: The cylinder is mounted to eight 10-ft W6 sections,
which are supported by two W8r18 sections. The “legs” extend
down from the platform and are made from HSS3r3r
ing posts with L3r3r¼ braces, one inside and one outside, on
all four legs. The legs are mounted on four 12-ft-long W8r18
beams, topped by 8-in. by 12-in. by
∕8-in.-thick plate. These
12-ft members pierce the bulkhead roof and are connected to
∕8-in. plate (16 in. by 16 in.), which is bolted to the concrete
bulkhead foor, securing the entire structure. In all, Watertower
uses approximately 2 tons of steel and 2,000 galvanized bolts.
For more on Tom Fruin’s work, visit www.tomfruin.com.
The National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), a division of the American
Institute of Steel Construction (AISC), is dedicated to advancing the
state-of-the-art of steel bridge design and construction.
This national, non-proft organization is a unifed voice representing the
entire steel bridge community bringing together the agencies and groups
who have a stake in the success of steel bridge construction.
There's always a bridge solution in steel.
National Steel Bridge Alliance
One East Wacker Drive, Suite 700
Chicago, Illinois 60601-1802
New Intuitive Graphical User Interface
Code Checking to AASHTO 5th Edition LRFD Bridge Design
Rapid Design and Analysis for Steel Plate and Tub Girder Bridges
Customizable and Reusable XML Based Output
Material Quantity Takeoffs
Means and Methods Based Cost Estimation
f the American
voice representing the
r the agencies and groups
WHY USE SIMON?
56 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
The Short Span Steel Bridge Alliance (SSSBA) recently
launched eSPAN140, an interactive web-based design
tool for short-span steel bridges up to 140 ft. This free tool
provides bridge professionals with an all-in-one resource for
steel fabrication and erection details including rolled beam,
plate girder, corrugated steel pipe and structural plate.
Short-span steel bridges already provide time and cost
efﬁciencies through their ease of installation, use of local
crews and light weight, among other factors. The eSPAN140
design tool yields even greater efﬁciencies because it
provides standard designs and details, which help to expedite
the overall design of the structure to ultimately reduce the
overall project delivery time. In addition, eSPAN140 provides
prefabricated element solutions, available from manufacturers
throughout the country. All of these solutions are customized
based on the user's input for a speciﬁed project.
eSPAN140 is available at www.espan140.com and
requires just three steps:
1. Users create a free account (this allows the user to save,
share and edit all of the input designs for future use).
2. Users input information about a speciﬁc project, including
span length, number of striped trafﬁc lanes, skew angle
and design speed, among other requirements.
3. eSPAN140 then provides a customized “Solutions Book”
PDF based on the speciﬁc input provided. The Solutions
Book includes standard designs and details, plate girder
recommendations, rolled beam recommendations, culvert
and structural plate options, customized prefabricated
manufacturer steel solutions, durability solutions, a listing
of key industry contacts and complimentary design support
via the newly developed Bridge Technology Center. It
also includes design details such as elastomeric bearings,
bearing stiffeners, intermediate and end diaphragms and
connections and modular bridge and coating systems
provided by SSSBA member companies.
For more information, go to www.ShortSpanSteelBridges.
org or contact Dan Snyder at email@example.com.
COMSLAB Composite Floor Sytems
COMSLAB profile design technology from Bailey deliv-
ers composite floor systems for structural steel-framed
buildings that require long, clear spans and shallow but
solid and stable floor systems. The system is easy to
handle and install, and it can be supplied pre-cut or
quickly cut on-site to fit challenging floor plans.
For more information, go to www.bmp-group.com.
NASCC: The Steel Conference exhibit hall, represent the
wide range of machinery, technology, tools and other
product offerings that service the structural steel industry.
A dozen products were picked as standouts by MSC staff
and other AISC staff, and many more hold great promise
for the future.
Selection was based on manufacturers’ descriptions and
claims; no product testing or evaluation was performed.
This list does not constitute a product endorsement by
Modern Steel Construction or AISC.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 57
The Cast ConneX Scorpion Yielding Brace System (YBS)
is a special class of concentrically braced frame. Just as
with Special Concentrically Braced Frames (SCBF; AISC)
or Moderately Ductile Concentrically Braced Frames
(Type-MD CBF; CSA), the centerlines of YBS members
meet at a joint intersect at a point to form a complete
With its latest enhancements and additional functionality, Design Data’s SDS/2 Erector has
become an even more effective and essential BIM-to-ﬁeld tool than ever before. The software
now gives users the ability to create and run pertinent reports; navigate and query the model
for data; set member status and color-code the model accordingly; and transfer member status
information between the model and a cell phone or tablet, using SDS/2 Mobile.
SDS/2 Erector enables users to add crawler
cranes with ﬁxed and lufﬁng jibs, as well as tower
cranes. Crane manufacturing data can be added
and modiﬁed, with the ability to have multiple
falls. Single lift, multi-lift and assembly lifts can be
evaluated using data that pertains to the speciﬁc lift,
including the capacity limit, and lines used for the lift
can be either user selected or system determined.
Crane reports have also been enhanced to include
more information about the lifts, with improved
ﬁltering options. Also, critical lifts (as per OSHA
subpart R) are indicated in the reports and color-
coded in the model.
To help avoid site obstructions for crane
placements, 2D drawings can be added to the 3D
model, and 2D crane placement drawings can be
created for the site and for veriﬁcation purposes.
Notes can also be added to the model.
For more information, go to www.sds2.com or call 800.443.0782.
vertical truss system that resists lateral forces. YBS have
more ductility and energy absorption than SCBF/Type-MD
CBF because overall brace buckling and its associated
strength degradation are eliminated.
YBS is composed of columns, beams and bracing
elements, all of which are subjected primarily to axial
forces. Braces of YBS are composed of Cast ConneX
Scorpion Yielding Connectors connected to the end of a
conventional W-Shape or HSS member. Scorpion Yielding
Connectors have specially designed ﬁngers, which are
intended to yield under seismic loading to dissipate
energy while all other elements of the braced frame remain
Engineers employing this system select Scorpion
Yielding Connectors based on the desired activation
load for the brace, and then select a conventional
W-Shape or HSS brace element based on capacity
design requirements and on the desired axial stiffness
of the brace assembly. In doing so, the yield force and
elastic stiffness of each brace comprising a YBS can be
independently tuned with this system.
YBS was also featured in the February 2012 issue of
MSC (visit www.modernsteel.com).
For more information, go to www.castconnex.com or
Cast ConneX Scorpion Yielding Brace System
Thermal Break Pad/Connection
Fabreeka's structural thermal break pad/connection, or thermal insulation
material (TIM), is manufactured from a ﬁberglass-reinforced laminate
composite. The properties of this material provide a thermally efﬁcient,
energy-saving product for construction that prevents thermal bridging
in structural connections. TIM is a load-bearing “thermal break” used
between ﬂanged steel connections.
The product’s primary beneﬁts include its high load capacity, which
maintains structural integrity, and its low thermal conductivity, which
reduces heat loss. It also eliminates potential condensation and mold.
TIM material is supplied in sheets or cut to size per customer drawings/
speciﬁcations and is available in thicknesses of ¼ in., ½ in. and 1 in. It is
also supplied as thermal break washers for bolted connections between
external and internal steelwork.
For more information, go to www.fabreeka.com or call 781.341.3655.
The PeddiWriter from Peddinghaus employs two
independent plasma torches to mark detailed layout
information onto all four surfaces of any structural proﬁle.
Its use allows the top web, bottom web and both ﬂange
surfaces to be quickly marked using data that can be
gleaned from a DSTV or BIM-type data source.
The unit auto-
matically marks all
detail and ﬁt-up
data, replacing the
method of layout
marking with CNC
precision. All loca-
tions for plate/angle connections, welding, part identiﬁca-
tion, crane lifting points and more can be processed in a
fully CNC method. In addition, by marking on all four sides
at once, it eliminates expensive crane lifts.
The unit features advanced surface detection to monitor
any inconsistencies due to mill tolerance in the section.
This also allows the machine to maintain proper “stand
off” distance for the torch, which speeds the operation by
eliminating excessive probing.
For more information, go to www.peddinghaus.com
or call 815.937.3800.
58 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Ficep Gemini 36 HD and Excalibur 12
Ficep’s new Gemini 36 HD plate processing system is a
complete plate solution for fabricators and manufacturers
of all sizes. It handles from light to heavy plate for thermal
cutting, marking, milling, drilling, tapping, beveling and
more, all on one machine.
The Gemini can be furnished with a wide variety of
marking devices depending on your needs. Fabrication
and bending lines can be indicated with a scribing tool or
plasma marking, and identiﬁcation marks and part numbers
for fabrication can be added with a scribing tool, plasma
marker or a pin marker.
The new Excalibur 12 CNC Single Spindle Drill for drilling,
milling and scribing features an exclusive secondary “X” axis
(length axis) with improved accuracy and productivity, as it is
not necessary to unclamp, reposition and re-clamp for each
“X” axis movement. This capability permits scribing on all
four surfaces to eliminate all manual layout, and also provides
the ability to generate slotted holes, copes and large holes.
For more information, go to
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 59
Phone: 281-2ô0-9749 Fax: 281-2ô0-9771
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There’s always a safe solution in steel.
Burlington Automation’s latest PythonX Structural
Fabrication System features two robots, working
simultaneously, to process beams, channels, angles,
HSS tube and plate. The dual-robot system is capable
of cutting holes, copes, slots, bevels and notches, as
well as scribing and marking layout marks, letters and
numbers on all four sides of a structural member. The
main beneﬁts of performing all fabrication operations
on one system are the elimination of wasteful material
handling of heavy structural steel pieces, faster
processing (because cutting and scribing are done all
at once) and minimal ﬂoor space usage.
For more information, go to www.pythonx.com or
CRII Versatile Coping Robot
Daito's next-generation Versascope robot provides coping,
marking and cutting capabilities all in one machine. It
processes bolt holes, slots, ﬂange thinning, weld preps and
more in structural steel fabrication operations, and ensures
accuracy and straight cuts by automatically compensating 4°
for the natural taper of plasma.
The robot incorporates a new design and includes the
Pinch Roller and Push Bar Hybrid System for fast and accurate
material positioning, as well as the option of a line discharge
and lift-and-carry transfer system.
For more information, go to www.daito-cr2.com or call
60 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Atlas Jumbo HSS
Atlas Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group, has partnered with Nippon Steel and Sumikin Metal Products Co., Ltd. (NSMP)
and Mitsui and Co. Ltd. to supply “jumbo” hollow structural sections (HSS) to the North American market. The jumbo
sizes, which were not originally available in North America, range from 18-in. square to 22-in. square and up to 0.875 in.
in wall thickness. Atlas Tube is marketing and distributing these jumbo HSS products throughout North America.
Typically used in vertical column and diagonal bracing applications and as members of large, long-span trusses, the jumbo HSS
sections offer an alternative to open sections and built-up, welded box sections used in structures with a high load demand.
“As an engineer, you want all the tools at your disposal to effectively solve design challenges in a cost-effective and
timely manner,” says Bradlee Fletcher, a structural
engineer with Atlas Tube. “Readily available jumbo
HSS will be another option for engineers to do
just that, especially for structures with large load
demands, such as ones in high seismic areas.”
The jumbo sizes are available from Atlas’
For more information, visit www.atlastube.com
or call 800.733.5683.
Channel Stair Stringer Channels
The MC12r14.3 Stair Stringer Channels are produced at Gerdau’s steel
mill in Calvert City, Ky., and are used primarily in the manufacture of
stair frames. The section is lighter and takes up less ﬂoor space than
the C12r20.7 option, while providing ﬂange dimensions often needed
in stair framing applications but not available in the lighter MC12r10.6.
The product is less expensive for the customer since it weighs less and
has a slimmer proﬁle that allows for more available space within the stair opening. This proﬁle offers a ﬂange width of 2
in., allowing for a railing post to be fully welded all around and/or the use of a ¾-in. rod in the ﬂange. It also has a large
section modulus of 12.7 in
, resulting in more versatility in stair width and length and more strength to meet today’s load
requirements, as compared to the MC12r10.6. The steel is made to conform to ASTM A36 and is also available in other
structural grades on an inquiry basis. With the objective of becoming the supplier of choice for customers in the sector,
the continued development of the Stair Stringer Channels exempliﬁes Gerdau’s capacity to send innovative products to
For more information, visit www.gerdau.com/longsteel or call Gerdau at 800.237.0230.
ArcelorMittal's New Wide-Flange Shapes
ArcelorMittal offers the largest range of shapes in the world, including seven new wide-
ﬂange sections and 10 new equal leg angles, all of which are now included in ASTMA6-12.
The W14r808 and 873; W36r723, 802, 853 and 925; and W40r655 can replace expensive
and complicated built-up sections, especially when ordered in high-strength A913 steel
grades (65 and 70), saving both time and money. These new sizes are perfect for gravity
columns of tall and super-tall buildings, as well as long-span trusses.
The 10-in. and 12-in. equal leg “L” shapes are principally aimed for transmission line
and lattice wind towers, and can achieve signiﬁcant cost savings on fabrication and
erection. Increasing rotor shaft height signiﬁcantly increases wind energy efﬁciency
and by using truss pylons, wind towers can be built higher and more economically
as compared to tubular towers. Reducing the overall weight of the structure will also
improve logistics and transportation costs.
For more information, go to www.arcelormittal.com/sections or call 312.899.3960.
BIM, CNC, IFC, CIS/2, IPD, LEED, 3D, 4D, 5D, XD, AISC,
ERP, MIS, MRP, VDC, DB, XML…
New technology brings with it confusing acronyms—
the steel industry can help you make sense of them.
¼ September 28, 2012
¼ See the acronyms in action on SteelDay
There’s always a solution in steel. Now you know where to ﬁnd it.
is an annual event hosted by the American Institute of Steel
Construction, its members and partners. Plan your SteelDay
visits and see
ﬁrsthand why it makes sense to build with steel.
American Institute of Steel Construction
One East Wacker Drive, Suite 700
Chicago, IL 60601
62 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Existing Certiﬁed Erector Facilities
Existing Certiﬁed Bridge Component Facilities
Existing Certiﬁed Fabricator Facilities
Newly Certiﬁed Fabricator Facilities
Newly Certified Facilities: June 1–30, 2012
To ﬁnd a certiﬁed fabricator or
erector in a particular area, visit
Newly Certiﬁed Fabricator Facilities
Cox Industrial Services, Yuma, Ariz.
FINDING CERTIFIED COMPANIES
Are you looking for a Certified fabricator or erector in your local area, or perhaps even
on the other side of the country? Visit www.aisc.org/certsearch for a current listing
of Certified fabrication facilities and erection companies. The list is updated weekly,
and you can search by either city/state or zip code/radius. If you have any questions or
comments, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People and Firms
t Robe r t
P.E., has been
e n g i n e e r
a t F i n l e y
a n d w i l l
relocate to the firm’s Orlando, Fla.
office. He will be responsible for
project management and staff
supervision on complex bridge
design projects and will take
a more active leadership role in
central and south Florida.
t Autodesk, a leader in 3D design
and engi neer i ng sof t ware,
has acqui red Vela Systems,
a cl oud and mobi l e f i el d
management software provider
for the construction industry. The
acquisition is intended to help
extend the value of building
information modeling (BIM) and
proj ect data to constructi on
professionals in the field.
t 5IF University of Kentucky’s
College of Engineering annually
r ecogni z es s el ect al umni
with induction into its Hall of
Distinction, the highest level of
alumni recognition granted by
the college. Larry Whaley, a
1968 civil engineering graduate,
was the 100th member to be
inducted into the Hall. Whaley is
a founder and president/CEO of
Haynes Whaley Associates, an
86-person structural engineering
firm headquartered in Houston,
wi t h off i ces i n Aust i n and
AISC is now accepting proposals for
the 2012 AISC Milek Fellowship. The
annual award is named after William
A. Milek, former AISC Vice President
of Engineering and Research, to rec-
ognize his invaluable contributions to
AISC and the structural steel industry
as a whole. The Milek Fellowship is
a four-year, $30,000-per-year award
for university-level faculty members
who are on a tenure track but have not
received tenure anywhere yet; appli-
cants must also have a graduate-level
program. The program is designed to
contribute to the research careers of
beginning faculty who teach and con-
duct research investigations related to
structural steel, while also producing
research results beneficial to design-
ers, fabricators and erectors of struc-
For more information, visit aisc.
and applications should be sent to Tom
Schlafly at email@example.com. Applications
are due by September 15.
AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 63
Beyond-Design Events Focus of Reactor Conference
The 22nd International Conference
on Structural Mechanics in Reactor
Technology (SMiRT-22), which will be held
on August 18–23, 2013 in San Francisco,
has announced its call for papers. Abstracts
must be submitted by September 17, 2012.
The events at Fukushima Daiichi have
triggered a mandate for an assessment of
safety and reliability for all nuclear power
plants. Plant safety and reliability assess-
ment for “beyond design” events, both in
the U.S. and Europe, will be required in the
coming years. This will include all operat-
ing plants as well as those already under
licensing, design and construction. The
key input for such evaluations is the seis-
mic hazard and associated risk assessment.
Consequently, SMiRT-22 has adopted the
theme of Safety and Reliability as the focal
point for the technical program.
Papers are being solicited for the follow-
ing conference topics:
¢Mechanics of materials
¢ Fracture mechanics and structural
¢ Applied computation, simulation and
¢Characterization of loads
¢Modeling, testing and response analy-
sis of structures, systems and com-
¢Design and construction issues
¢Safety, reliability, risk and margins
¢ Issues related to operations, inspec-
tion and maintenance
¢ Fuel-cycle facilities, waste manage-
ment and decommissioning
¢Challenges of new reactors
SMiRT-22 is being organized and
hosted by the International Association
for Structural Mechanics in Reactor
Technology (IASMiRT), the American
Association for Structural Mechanics in
Reactor Technology (AASMiRT) and
Bechtel Power Corporation. For more
information about the conference, visit
In response to growing concerns from
the construction market, the U.S. Green
Building Council (USGBC) has announced
that it will postpone ballot on LEED
Rating System Development (LEED 2012)
until as late as June 1, 2013. Because of the
date change, the new version of LEED has
been renamed LEED v4.
The delay comes from a lack of readi-
ness voiced by building industry profes-
sionals, many of whom are LEED users.
USGBC will use this time to provide the
marketplace with a full understanding of
the new program prior to ballot, and will
keep LEED 2009 available for three more
years while the industry gradually moves to
“USGBC has taken a wise step back,
here,” commented John Cross, AISC’s vice
president of marketing. “LEED 2012 con-
tained many concepts that certainly raise
the bar for green buildings, but those con-
cepts were not necessarily well integrated
with each other and current industry prac-
tices. The additional year provides a real
opportunity for USGBC to not only pub-
lish the ‘greenest’ version of LEED, but
also the one that will be the most accepted
In addition to the ballot date change,
USGBC is committing to a fifth public
comment period that will run from October
2 to December 10, corresponding with
this year’s Greenbuild Conference in San
Francisco (which takes place November
14–16). Public forums and educational ses-
sions will be held to help stakeholders bet-
ter understand the next draft, and the event
will also serve as a platform to debut new
resources designed to enhance the LEED
USGBC president and CEO Rick
Fedrizzi has issued a public statement about
the LEED 2012 postponement, available
on USGBC’s website, www.usgbc.org
(direct link: http://bit.ly/NP0D8F).
LEED 2012 Postponed Until 2013,
Renamed LEED v4
Worldwide BIM Contest
The Olympics aren’t the only global com-
petition this summer. The Virtual Design
World Cup, organized by 3D software spe-
cialist FORUM 8, is an international design
contest for college-level students to com-
pete in designing their own architectural
3D models using BIM and virtual reality
The contest challenges students to
design their models based on a specific
theme. This year, the task is to design a
sustainable and self-sufficient “Marine
Ci ty” on the sea, usi ng i nnovati ve
technical and design aspects to overcome
various issues that cities face in the 21st
Graitec’s Advance Steel structural steel
detailing software is among the software
packages that participants can rely upon to
design and model their structures. In sup-
port of the competition, Graitec will pro-
vide 50 free short-term licenses of Advance
Steel for students entered in the contest.
The top winner will receive a grand
prize worth approximately $3,600, including
a scholarship. Five others will win a laptop
computer and all participants will receive
a prize. Applicants have until September
30 to register for the competition online.
To learn more about the competition and
how to enter, go to vdwc.forum8.co.jp/
Past AISC Webinars Now
AISC’s Continuing Education depart-
ment will periodically release record-
ings of past live webinars. The 1.5-hour
live webinar recordings can be found at
Included in the group of record-
ings made available on August 1 are
Welding – Special Applications by Duane
K. Miller; Design for Stability by Louis
F. Geschwindner and many more. Look
for new additions in the months ahead.
Similar to other eLearning presentations,
the recorded live webinars are free to view
and attendees are able to receive CEUs/
PDHs by purchasing and passing a quiz for
To advertise, call 231.228.2274 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
64 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
Search employment ads online at www.modernsteel.com.
AISC Quality Certification
LOSING OUT TO COMPETITION?
Need Steel Erection Certification? Call Jim Mooney
Your Quality Certification Connection
JAMES M. MOONEY & ASSOCIATES
Are you in the KNOW about the NEW?
Did you know that AISC Certiﬁcation is introducing a new Bridge
Certiﬁcation Program for fabricators this year? Visit
www.aisc.org/bridgecertification for updates on this upcoming
program, as well as to view related resources, such as articles,
press releases and AISC’s new Bridge Standard. This page will also
be periodically updated, so be sure to sign up for notiﬁcations!
As always, if you have additional questions or comments on these
or other items related to AISC Certiﬁcation, you are encouraged to
contact us at email@example.com.
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LATE MODEL STRUCTURAL
STEEL FABRICATING EQUIPMENT
Ficep 1001-D CNC Beam Drill (1) Spindle, 40”x 40”Maximum Beam, Fanuc CNC,
50’ Maximum Length, Thru-Spindle Coolant, New 2003 #19265
Peddinghaus Ocean Avenger II 1000-1 CNC Beam Drill, (1) Drill Head,
Siemens CNC, 40”x 60’ Beam Capacity, 2004 #20877
Peddinghaus PCD-1100 CNC Beam Drill, 44”x 18” Capacity, Power Conveyor,
(3) Spindle, Siemens CNC, 2008 #21811
Peddinghaus BDL1250 CNC Beam Drill,50”Max Beam,(3) Spindle,2000 #21739
Peddinghaus FDB 1500/3E CNC Plate Drill w/ Oxy/Plasma Cutting Torches,
Maximum Plate Width 60”, 1998 #17696
Peddinghaus FPB 1500/3E CNC Plate Punch w/ Plasma Cutting Torch,
Maximum Plate Width 60”, New 1998 #17634
Peddinghaus 623K Angle Punch/Shear Line, 6”x 6”x 1/2”, 80 Ton Punch, CNC ,
250 Ton Shear, 1995 #19897
Ocean DCM 18/42 Vertical Band Saw, 18”x 42”, Dual Column, Dual Miter, 10 HP,
2”Blade, 2008 #21812
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AUGUST 2012 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION 65
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66 MODERN STEEL CONSTRUCTION AUGUST 2012
DO YOU REMEMBER the exact moment when you realized
what you wanted your career to be?
Not everyone experiences such a moment, but for those
that do, it’s generally unforgettable.
For architect Nic Goldsmith, it came on the way home
from a visit to the museum in the early 1960s, when he was
eight. Goldsmith and his father were walking home from the
Museum of Modern Art in New York, and his father took him
down Park Avenue.
“At the time, Park Avenue, which had been developed
by Cornelius Vanderbilt shortly after the building of Grand
Central Terminal, was one continuous urban development of
stone-clad buildings standing like a series of grey flannel suits
marching up the street,” he recalls. “As we turned the corner,
my father pointed to two crystalline glass towers and said,
‘This is Modern Architecture.’ The buildings were the iconic
Seagram Building by Mies van der Rohe and the Lever House
by Gordon Bunshaft of SOM. I stood looking up at them in
awe and knew at that moment that I wanted to be an architect,
showing a new way forward and pioneering innovation.”
Years later at Cornell University, Goldsmith’s desire for
innovation manifested itself as an interest in the work of
designer Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller (known for his geode-
sic domes); the inventor of the tensile structure, Frei Otto;
and the Mexican concrete shell master, Felix Candela. These
designers were somewhat outside the Corbusian orthodoxy
(following Le Corbusier’s work) that the school promoted at
the time. Along with a few other students, Goldsmith started
making lightweight structures, for independent credit, which
they then built in the university gym in the middle of the
night after all the sport programs were completed. They even
designed and built a steel scaffold and tensile membrane roof
for a concert series in the university stadium for the rock
band, Deep Purple.
By the time Goldsmith graduated, the group of ambitious
students had completed six structures and Goldsmith wanted to
learn more about how the masters of this technology worked.
“So I packed up and moved to Stuttgart, Germany,
where Professor Frei Otto had an institute specialized in
the development and research of lightweight structures
(Institute for Lightweight Structures),” he says. “There, I
was asked to participate in design work at his small private
atelier, where I worked for almost three years on a series
of incredible projects, from a new Parliament Building for
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to a steel mesh structure for a new
aviary at the zoo in Munich, Germany. It was an incred-
ible experience to be able to work with such a master, and
it gave me knowledge and courage to continue my passion
Goldsmith returned to the U.S. in 1978 and joined one of
his former classmates in developing a small practice special-
izing in tents and lightweight structures. Based in New York
and originally called Future Tents Ltd., the outfit soon became
known as FTL and developed projects both for the tent rental
industry and other more architectural projects, from canopies
to park pavilions.
“As in every career, there are times of slow continuity
punctuated by big leaps forward,” Goldsmith explains. “One
of our first projects was attempting, against all odds, to win
a competition to design and build a series of canopies that
encircled the White House Ellipse to shelter tourists. From
that project, we were invited to develop a temporary per-
formance facility for the National Symphony Orchestra in
Washington, which we have continued to develop over the
30 ensuing years.”
In the 34 years since the practice started, Goldsmith
stresses how FTL has continually tried to incorporate the
notion of applied technology as a foundation for innovation.
In 1978, the firm developed the first rental tent system in the
U.S. for Anchor Industries, using a tensile structure technol-
ogy of higher prestress in the fabric, fewer poles and the elimi-
nation of ropes.
“In 1998, we developed the first integrated photovol-
taic system on a tensile fabric structure, which we devel-
oped for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and
the Smithsonian Institution,” he says. “And the Sun Valley
Pavilion (see “Cool Concert Venue,” p. 42) demonstrates the
first use, in the U.S., of a tensile membrane integrated with a
cable net and wood roof. This approach uses hybrid systems
that rely on tension rather than the more conventional con-
struction approaches of framing.”
And Goldsmith and FTL will continue to strive for firsts.
“Bucky Fuller once said, ‘You never change things by fight-
ing the existing reality. To change something, build a new
model that makes the existing model obsolete,’” he quotes.
“Today, innovation is required to solve the enormous prob-
lems we have created in our world and allows us to create a
better tomorrow; we really have no choice.”
For Nic Goldsmith, a veteran designer of
tensile structures, innovation is not a matter
of choice, but rather a matter of course.
people to know
Nic Goldsmith at FTL’s offices in New York.
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