Shining Examples: The Best Structural Steel Buildings

NASCAR Hall of Fame

National Award – Greater than $75 Million: NASCAR Hall of Fame Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Paul Warchol Photography Inc.

The American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) has recognised 13 standout structural steel buildings at the 2013 Innovative Design in Engineering and Architecture with Structural Steel awards (IDEAS2).

Covering an array of project types, this year’s IDEAS2 winners demonstrate the flexible and effective solutions provided by structural steel on a wide variety of building projects.

The National Award for Projects Greater than $75 Million went to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. The building was designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and Little Diversified Architectural Consulting with Leslie E. Robertson Associates as structural engineers.

Curving, sloped forms are evocative not only of the dynamic and sinuous shape of the racetrack but also of the perception of speed, which is at the heart of the NASCAR spectacle.

The expression of these forms could only have been achieved through the use of steel for the cladding and the structure, encompassing several long-span elements and architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) elements. The design employed innovative approaches to connections, steel detailing, and the interface of structural steel with stone, glass, and steel as a finish material.

Steel trusses are used to achieve significant spans in the project including a set of trusses spanning 175 feet to achieve a grand column-free ballroom.

The first of two National Awards for Projects $15 Million to $75 Million went to the City Creek Center Retractable Roof in Salt Lake City, Utah. The project was designed by Hobbs + Black Architects with Magnusson Klemencic Associates as structural engineers.

Developers wanted an urban, open‐air setting but also needed the assurance that retail businesses would be protected during inclement weather.

HL23 New York

National Award – $15 Million to $75 Million: HL23 New York, N.Y. Photo: Rinze van Brug Photography

The solution is a retractable, barrel-vaulted roof configured in two sections, each spanning one city block. Each section is 240 feet long and 58 feet wide, with an S‐shape that echoes the curve of the signature City Creek. The precision‐sculpted steel and glass transparently shields patrons when closed and disappears from sight when open, connecting nature with the areas below.

An industrial computer located in a remote control room operates the retractable roof, which travels up to eight feet per minute and opens or closes in approximately six minutes. Each panel has a unique operating sequence to prevent the panels from interfering with one another as the seals engage and disengage. The roof’s curvature, along with its complex seals and intersecting panels, made the control system the most complicated ever developed by the mechanical engineer.

The second National Award went to HL23, New York, a luxury residential building designed by Neil M. Denari Architects with DeSimone Consulting Engineers.

Clad with a mega-panel glass and stainless steel curtain wall system, the project’s distinct form comes from the dramatic sloping of the south and east facades, creating a dynamic and undulating three-dimensional composition.

In New York, most residential buildings are designed using a cast-in-place reinforced concrete flat plate system to maximize floor-to-floor height. However, due to the unique geometry of the building, the sprawling architectural layouts, the quality of the soil, and the hybrid gravity and lateral load system on the perimeter of the building, steel was a more economical and efficient material for this particular project.

The winner of the National Award for Projects Less Than $15 Million was the El Dorado Conference Center in El Dorado, Arkansas, designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects with TME as structural engineers.

El Dorado is home to the world’s eighth-largest oil company, which was created with the discovery of oil in southern Arkansas at the turn of the last century.

Barclays Center

Merit Award – Greater than $75 Million: Barclays Center Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo: Bess Adler

The design philosophy focused on celebrating the industry. Every steel column, beam, bolt, and connection is exposed as they would be on oil derricks.

The main public hall reflects a repeating cross section of a derrick’s shape and bracing, creating a soaring cathedral-like space, capped with a wood shed that recalls the long timber mills of this forested region.

The Presidential Award of Excellence in Engineering went to the Chelsea Piers Connecticut in Stamford, designed by James G. Rogers Architects with WSP Cantor Seinuk as structural engineers.

The project sees the reuse of an old manufacturing plant to house a new sports facility. Although the building had ample square footage to encompass the new facility, the lack of large column-free spaces needed for sports use was a challenge and required the removal of 23 columns from the building in order to achieve the column-free zones.

The solutions selected by the project’s structural engineer were extremely creative, economical and highly sustainable, resulting in reuse of the existing roof structure, limited demolition, and limited use of new materials.

“Congratulations to the award-winning teams for projects that combine creativity, economy and technical achievement through the use of structural steel,” said AISC president Roger E. Ferch.

The other winners were:

Projects Less Than $15 Million

Merit Award: Sierra Bonita Mixed-Use Affordable Housing, West Hollywood, Calif.

Merit Award: Solar Canopy, Chicago

Merit Award: The Corner Condominiums, Missoula, Mont.

Merit Award: Twilight Epiphany (James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University), Houston

Projects $15 Million to $75 Million

Merit Award: UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium Press Box, Berkeley, Calif.

Merit Award: Lee Hall III – Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.

Projects Greater than $75 Million

Merit Award: Barclays Center arena, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Merit Award: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters, Springfield, Va.

By Justin McGar
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