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Big Blue Crane Collapse at Miller Park: July 14, 1990

With faster construction scheduling the need for faster steel erection has become a must, and this has resulted in the need for larger booms on mobile cranes (Feld 1996 p. 228). This was the case at the Milwaukee Brewers’ new stadium. The Brewers’ stadium was three years in the making, and involved a state of the are multi-panel retractable roof that was to be supported by curved truss assemblies. With the size of the site and the size of the roof panels, weighing between 200-450 tons and the largest being 176′ x 200′ x 16′, a large crane was a must. The crane, referred to as Big Blue, had a 340′ lattice boom w/ a 200′ jib, 2 crawler tracks, and had a 2400 kip counter weight, as seen in Fig. 3 (NIOSH 1999). Big Blue had a maximum capacity of 1040 kips, well under the weight of the final roof section to be hoisted into place (NIOSH 1999).

Fig. 4: Big Blue Crane Structure Photo Credit: NIOSH FACE Report 99-11

(Video 1: Big Blue Crane Collapse Video Credit: YouTube)

On July 14, 1999 the construction of the Milwaukee Brewers would be halted in a very disastrous series of events. On this day, there would be between 400-700 workers working on various parts of the project. Five of these workers were part of the lift crew which was under the direction of one lift supervisor. Like all of the roof sections, the section to be lifted on July 14th was constructed on the ground to limit the risk of fall hazards and to speed of the time of construction. Each lift began at a pick point to the North of the site, where the section was hoisted and checked to ensure it was properly suspended. Once that was done the section would then be swung to the west over the south end of the stadium and moved to the set point at the south end of the stadium where the section would then be lowered into place, as seen in Fig. 4 below (NIOSH 1999).

When hoisting a section this large, it requires frequent checks of the attitude of the member being hoisted. The attitude at which an object hangs depends on the location of the center of gravity in relation to the attachment points and the lengths of the lines suspending the section (NIOSH 1999). Once the section was hoisted it was noticed that the connections at the south end of the section were higher than the north end connections and this had to be fixed to ensure the section could be properly placed (NIOSH 1999). There are several ways to adjust this; move the attachment points, shortening the suspension lines, or add weight to one side to lower it. It was decided that with the time constraints and the size of the section, the best route was to add a 6500 lb. concrete block to the south end to adjust the height of the connections (NIOSH 1999). This addition made an already difficult lift even more difficult, and the perfect storm of events that would take the lives of three construction workers had just begun.

crane_tip_over_NIOSH(2).jpgOnce the 6500 lbs. was added, the lift supervisor noticed the crawlers of the front transport sinking into the ground. To do a lift like this the crane must be level, but swinging the section to the west would put the crane out of level (NIOSH 1999). The decision was then made to move the crane to more competent ground to ensure the crane stayed level. By moving the crane to a new location, the crew was then forced to change the lift plan. This new lift plan called for the section to be hoisted over the north end of the stadium rather than the south end and swung to the east to be lowered into place (NIOSH 1999). As has been explained in previous sections of this case study, wind forces can cause many significant accidents, and that was not any different today. Both the steel erection and the roof construction contractors had a strict policy that prohibited and lift operation to be done if the wind was greater than 20 mph at the top of the crane (NIOSH 1999). Once the section reached its highest point in the lift, 300 feet, the lift supervisor called for regular updates on the wind conditions. At approximately 2:30 PM a mast-mounted anemometer read wind conditions between 17-20 mph, but the lift was not halted (NIOSH 1999).

The reasons for the lift operation not being halted are left up to much speculation, but more information can be found at the Big Blue Crane Collapse case study also found on the failures wiki website. Big Blue traveled approximately 500 feet to reach the set point and came to a stop, and the section would be stabilized while it was lowered (NIOSH 1999). The section needed to be stabilized because once the crane came to a stop the section began moving in a pendulum motion, swinging Northward. The plan was to stabilize the section on the next swing when it was going southward, but the pendulum motion along with the high winds caused the crane to become unstable (NIOSH 1999). With the crane becoming unstable it further increased the swinging of the roof section and the crane then tipped north and slightly eastward. The counterweight was now not enough to bring the swinging section, the tipping crane, and the added weight used to adjust the attitude back down to stable ground, and the whole crane tipped and crashed into the stadium wall parapet which snapped the craned at about the midpoint of the boom.

With the sudden nature of the collapse, taking less than 40 seconds, as seen in Video 1 above, none of the lift operators observing the lift in hoisted platforms were able to move in time. The roof section swung into a platform hoisted on another part of the site with three workers on it, killing all three of the workers when they fell the 300′ to the ground below (NIOSH 1999). An investigation was done on the crane collapse, and showed that there were several contributing factors to the crane collapse. The combination of the side loads from the wind on both the crane and the roof section, the out of level ground conditions, and the pendulum motion of the section all contributed to the perfect storm of conditions resulting in the death of three workers (NIOSH 1999).

Many accidents are completely unavoidable, but actions must be taken to minimize the risk. It seems that some of the risk factors explained above were well covered and policies were in place to avoid them, but those policies were not completely followed during this particular lift. On top of that it seems some factors may not have been very well analyzed. Whether it was the ground conditions, the wind conditions, or overall lift plan many things could have been done to help avoid this accident. Many of these will be outlined in the Lessons Learned section of this case study below.

Projects Greater than $75 Million

NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, N.C.

Building Team
Owner/Developer: City of Charlotte; NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, N.C.
Owner’s Representative: NASCAR, Charlotte, N.C.
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners LLP, New York
Architect: Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Charlotte, N.C.
Structural Engineer: Leslie E. Robertson Associates, RLLP, New York
General Contractor: BE&K Building Group, Charlotte, N.C.
Steel Fabricator: SteelFab, Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Steel Detailer: Hutchins & Associates, Clemmons, N.C.
Steel Erector: Williams Erection Company, Smyrna, Ga.
Bender/Roller: SteelFab, Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Design-Build Contractor for Ribbon: Zahner, Kansas City, Mo.
Consultant: Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc., New York
Consultant: Jaros Baum & Bolles, New York
Photograph: Paul Warchol Photography Inc.

In approaching the challenge of designing a Hall of Fame for NASCAR, the project’s design team sought to capture the essential spirit of NASCAR and its sport in architectural form. In exploring the possibilities for expressing speed and spectacle, the team was drawn to the arena of action, the racecourse, where fans and race teams come together each race week for the spectacle of race day.

Curving, sloped forms are evocative not only of the dynamic and changing 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, as cladding and as structure, encompassing several long-span elements, architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) elements, and employing innovative approaches to connections, steel detailing, and the interface of structural steel with stone, glass, and steel as a finish material.

The Hall of Fame consists of four basic elements:
• A large glazed oval shape forming a Great Hall serves as the symbolic core of the Hall of Fame.
• A rectangular volume houses visitor services, including entry and exhibit space on upper floors.
• An expressed Hall of Honor is situated as an iconic element within the Great Hall.
• A broadcast studio enlivens the Hall of Fame Plaza, the sweeping forecourt that welcomes visitors.

The results of the teams’ explorations of speed and spectacle evolved into an architectural element – the Ribbon – 5,000 stainless steel panels that envelope the full-block building in a form that speaks to the imagery and spirit of NASCAR. Made of stainless steel in a lustrous angel-hair finish that softly reflects light and accentuates its dynamic aspect, the Ribbon is a sculpted form that changes as it wraps around the building.

Within the Great Hall, a signature element of a curved banked ramp leads the visitor from the main floor to exhibit levels above. The ramp contains a display of race cars frozen in a moment from a race, capturing in another way the speed and spectacle that is the essence of the sport.

Steel trusses are used to achieve significant spans in the project:

• A set of trusses spanning 175 feet achieve a grand column-free ballroom • A 100-foot-long, bi-level footbridge, supported by a pair of one-story-deep trusses, links the ballroom with the existing Charlotte
Convention Center.
• Two- and three-story-high trusses cantilever 30 feet over the broadcast studio.

Among the AESS elements in the project is the Vierendeel frame supporting the glass fac?ade of the Great Hall. The lateral-load-resisting system at this fac?ade also functions as the braced frame that supports the Ribbon.

The project’s structural bid set was issued six months before the 100% CD set. The steel tender was divided into multiple packages to enable steel detailing and fabrication of portions of the project to proceed before the full design was complete. A 3D model was used in the steel detailing to identify and resolve potential conflicts in the field. These efforts and effective team communication allowed the long scheduled public opening to occur on time.

5 Tips For Keeping Your Steel & Metal Building Cool Summer

Are you planning to construct a metal building but are concerned about mitigating summertime temperatures? Perhaps you live, work or hobby in an older, existing metal building and already notice the interior temperatures are rising now that summer is here. In either case, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your steel building cool during the summer months.

hot metal roof

From color and materials selection to accessories and landscaping, we’ve highlighted a handful of things you can do – both during the design phase and afterwards – to keep your metal building cool this summer. In addition to improving interior comfort for occupants, regulating interior temperatures will reduce peak season cooling expenditures and will also improve the building’s interior air quality.

  1. Add a cool metal roof. Traditional roofing materials can heat up as high at 190° F on a hot summer day. Whew! Even with a heap of high-quality insulation in the attic and exterior walls (more on that later), a good portion of that heat is bound to transfer from the roof, to adjacent building materials and right into your building. Once inside, solar heat gain will cause your HVAC system to work overtime to keep temperatures at the desired thermostat settings. You can eliminate the bulk of this heat gain by installing a cool metal roof. These roofs are light in color and have reflective coatings that send a large percentage of the sun’s UV rays back into the atmosphere and out of your home.

    In fact, this same solar heat gain is responsible for a thing called the “heat island effect” in city and urban areas, whereby heat absorbed by roofs, concrete and asphalt surfaces elevates the surrounding exterior temperatures. The more cool metal roofs there are, the less your city or urbanscape will suffer from the heat island effect.

  2. Upgrade your insulation. If you live in an old building, upgrading your insulation will help to bring your building up to current energy efficiency codes in your area. If you’re designing a new building, make sure your insulation meets the minimum suggested R-Value for your geographic location. Adequate insulation keeps heat from traveling from the outside to the inside during the summer months, and will prevent heated air from transferring outside during the winter months.

    The majority of heat gain/loss occurs through the attic so make attic insulation a priority. Check with local energy companies and municipalities. In an effort to encourage energy-efficiency, these entities often provide incentives in the form of rebates or affordable financing to make these changes feasible for the average homeowner.

  3. Harness the benefits of ventilation. Adequate ventilation is another way to keep temperatures in your attic and living spaces to a minimum, and insulation and roof ventilation go hand in hand. At the simplest level, you can use natural ventilation at night (use a programmable thermostat that will keep your A/C from cycling on when windows are open) and then close the windows during the day to keep the cool air in. This can drastically reduce the amount of time your cooling system operates. Use ventilation in your attic space to vent hot air back outside. From heat-activated models to solar powered units, there are plenty of energy-efficient ventilation systems to choose from.
  4. Add awnings, overhangs and metal canopies. If you are designing a building, we recommend researching the tenets of a passive solar home design, which gives you more total control over solar heat gain. However, even if primary conditions like lot and building orientation are not flexible for you, adding awnings, overhangs or a metal canopy will yield a noticeable difference. By extending your roof or adding awnings to west- and south-facing exposures, you will drastically reduce the amount of sun that transfers from exterior walls and windows to the interior of your home.
  5. Use landscaping to your benefit. Similarly, you can plant trees and shrubs that will shade western and southern exposed walls and windows, cooling your home’s surfaces considerably. Ideally, especially if your location experiences colder temperatures in the winter months, you should plant deciduous trees and shrubs that will drop their leaves and allow you to benefit from the sun’s rays on cold days. Make sure to mulch the soil around the plant beds that lie adjacent to your home. In addition to conserving water, a healthy layer of mulch keeps the exposed ground cooler, preventing the ground from absorbing heat and radiating it back through your structural components.

7 Ways to Economize on Steel Buildings

Building Teams need to bring real value to the table these days, so BD+C asked two expert engineers about steel construction and their tips for cutting costs when building with structural steel. Meet the experts:

Tabitha Stine, SE, PE, LEED AP, Director of Technical Marketing, American Institute of Steel Construction, Chicago

David Ruby, PE, SE, SECB, FASCE, Chairman and Founding Principal, Ruby+Associates Inc. Structural Engineers, Detroit

1. Use standard steel lengths.

Specifying standard steel lengths rather than specialty sizes seems like a no-brainer, but it’s too often ignored, says AISC’s Stine. For instance, ordering 20 20-foot sections is significantly less expensive than ordering 10 20 1/2-foot sections because it eliminates having to cut to size, scrapping extra steel, and paying for unusable remnants.

Stine says she often hears the argument that specifying 20 standard sections rather than 10 specialty sections will add costs by increasing an order’s weight. However, less weight doesn’t always mean less cost. Stine says ordering standard sizes, repeating sizes (which allows the fabricator to order larger quantities), and bundling orders usually leads to cost savings.

To save more, Stine suggests talking to your fabricator about:

  • Current market conditions, and whether it’s cheaper to order one size over another.
  • Remnant material from another job that the fabricator may be happy to unload at a good price.
  • What sizes the mills have been rolling recently: higher stock quantities generally mean lower prices.

Ruby recalled a conversation he had with the fabricator working with him on St. Vincent Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. The owner came in with last-minute design modifications that would have required changes to the structural steel package.

Ruby and the fabricator put together an order of standard sizes based on material availability that enabled the design to be reconfigured without adding to the cost of the steel.

2. Don’t pay for primed or painted steel.

Steel doesn’t need to be primed or painted unless it’s going be used as an exposed architectural element (in, say, an atrium), exposed to the elements (as in a parking garage), or set in a corrosive environment (e.g., a chemical manufacturing plant). Not only does priming and painting add unnecessary costs, it can hinder fire protection by making it difficult for fireproofing materials to adhere to the steel.

Recommendation: Make sure your bids explicitly state no primer or paint; otherwise, they may be added to the package, says Stine. That’s because steel naturally develops slight amounts of rust on a job site; even though the rust will not affect the structural integrity of the steel, it is viewed as unaesthetic, so the steel gets painted. Remember, the rust can be brush cleaned-in fact, connections must always be cleaned, notes Stine.

Priming and painting can increase steel costs enough to flip the project to another material that appears to be cheaper. “It isn’t simply painting costs,” says Ruby. “It’s also resource costs, inconvenience costs, and environmental costs. It’s a much larger picture.”

3. Use a BIM model to save money-but only if everyone on the team in on board.

Building Teams can find big savings by having a BIM model, especially for identifying design conflicts before they become big problems. The BIM model can also be shared with fabricators who would otherwise be forced to pass along the costs of creating their own model. According to Stine, most AEC firms currently utilize BIM only on their biggest projects, but she advocates using BIM on all jobs, regardless of size. Architects and engineers who can’t deliver a BIM model to the fabricator will fall behind, she says, especially during an economic slowdown where increased competition forces everyone to be more aggressive.

Caution: The entire Building Team needs to be involved in the BIM model for it to become an integral part of the process, warns Ruby. He sees structural engineers as relatively BIM-savvy compared to many contractors, especially smaller GCs working on smaller projects. If contractors aren’t contributing their experience to the model, it’s not going to be as valuable to the fabricator, says Ruby.

4. Make sure fabricators are certified.

Project costs can be reduced by specifying steel from fabricators who are certified rather than simply relying on steel to be inspected. Certification focuses on the entire process of fabrication and erection. Certified companies providing steel adhere to a set of AISC standards (which are audited by a third party), a process that weeds out problems before the steel gets to the job site. Better to nip any problems in the bud that to correct them after the fact, which adds time and expense to the project.

5. Know the details of what you’re buying. On average, says the AISC’s Stine, the total cost of structural steel represents about 10% of overall project costs; of that, the material itself accounts for 20-40%, while the other 60-80% goes to fabrication and erection. Thus, if structural steel prices were to go up 5%, the cost of the entire steel package would increase only about 1-2%.

6. Understand how to fireproof steel cost-effectively.

Reasonably priced options for achieving required fire-protection ratings include:

  • Spray-applied fireproofing. Surface prep time is minimal; steel only needs to be shop cleaned of dirt, oil, grease, and loose mill scale.
  • Gypsum board. A relatively inexpensive way to fireproof steel because the cost to upgrade conventional gypsum board to fire-resistant gypsum board is quite low.
  • Intumescent paints provide low weight-per-surface-area, high durability, and good adhesion. But aesthetic appeal is the main reason for selecting intumescent paint, which is often used on architecturally exposed structural steel.

7. Don’t be deceived by “low-cost” deals.

Don’t make decisions on steel packages based solely on lowest cost, says Ruby. That relegates steel to the role of commodity when it should be viewed as a specialty, owing to the structural engineering, fabrication, and installation knowledge required.

Moreover, so-called “lowest cost” isn’t always the case. Building Teams that see steel as a specialty item and work with fabricators to optimize a steel package (as noted above) can realize significant cost savings. When steel is viewed as a commodity, Building Teams may miss the opportunity to create a leaner, more efficient, and often less expensive steel package.

Ruby mentions a project he consulted on for Lansing (Mich.) Community College. When the job went out to bid with the steel packaged as a commodity, it came back over budget. When Ruby helped optimize the steel program, making significant modifications to the lateral system, floor system, and metal deck, the project came back under budget-and with an option for an additional floor, at no extra cost.

Choosing the Best Metal Building Supplier

The right metal building supplier will make all the difference as you design and construct your building. From the customer service and engineering expertise included in the design process, to the clear instructions, references and high-quality materials used to erect and install it, choosing the best supplier you can afford will be well worth any extra costs involved.

best metal building

Your Metal Building Supplier Matters

Most project managers, construction companies and private builders consider two things when they purchase their product:

  1. Price
  2. Quality

Unfortunately, considerations often rank in that order, meaning you may get the best (aka “cheapest”) price, but at the significant cost of quality. The problem is that cheaply fabricated and/or constructed buildings may cost less now, but those costs will typically exceed the original “amount saved” in terms of maintenance, parts failures, repairs and replacements that take place down the road. This doesn’t take other significant cost-causing events into consideration – such as injuries or fatalities resulting from a building collapse, or from a building that doesn’t hold up in a natural disaster.

Therefore, builders should first to gain a more comprehensive cost:benefit ratio. In addition to a reasonably-priced building – a reputable metal building supplier should also provide:

  • Engineering and architectural support
  • Unlimited customer service
  • Additional resources when it’s time for erection and construction
  • Superior quality building products and coatings
  • Top-notch warranties

There are three ways most building owners purchase a pre-engineered metal building system:

  1. Directly from the manufacturer. If you opt to work directly through the manufacturer, you will get the best price. However, this will also take the most time because you will want to narrow the choices to at least three to five different companies to make a thorough cost/services comparison.
  2. Using a metal building broker. This might be the best option if you don’t have much time, aren’t interested in doing the research and cost comparisons yourself, or simply feel you don’t have a enough know-how to handle the “research and development” aspects of your metal building project. A broker is, by definition, a “middle man”. He will upcharge your total cost to recoup the time and energy spent researching your options.
  3. Via the general contractor. If you are working with a reputable metal building contractor, they will be able to walk you through your options. An experienced metal building professional will be well-versed on the top metal building manufacturers, and have established relationships with a few of them. Your contractor will also be able to schedule purchase, delivery and assembly as part of the contract.

How to Choose a Metal Building Manufacturer

If you choose to do the bulk of your legwork yourself, the following can serve as a check-list of sorts as you make your way through the comparisons:

Is the supplier AC472 accredited?

AC472 accreditation takes place via a third-party inspection and compliance program, ensuring accredited members are in complete alignment with Chapter 17 of the International Building Code (IBC). The company must prove – via testing and inspections – that it has experience, personnel, equipment, organization, knowledge, procedures, capability and commitment to comply with the IBC.

It’s imperative that your building is compliant with the IBC, so you can automatically rule out any company that is not in compliance. Any supplier worth their salt will also work with your local building codes to ensure the finished product is in compliance with them as well.

Where are they located?

Location matters for several reasons. The closer the facility is to your job site, the lower your shipping rates will be and the faster your building and components will arrive. In most cases, a pre-engineered building won’t require many change orders but if there are changes or last-minute accessories that need to be ordered, closer proximity will make a big difference. Proximity will also increase the eco-friendliness of your project.

Have you read the final contract?

Verbal agreements are great, but paper contracts with itemized pricing are the only way to guarantee the price you’re given is accurate and that materials and services are exactly as you’ve discussed.

Manage Your Money Properly To Achieve Financial Freedom

A standout amongst the best approaches to enhance your life is Manage Money with Flexibility and values your existence without limits. Financial opportunity is a condition where you can do pretty much anything without being obliged with financial concern. The depiction of financial flexibility can be anything, you can be a super rich person, content with what you have or you may feel money related things are out of your obligation. Taking the right exercises will help you to perform financial flexibility. Today, I will give you a proper finance tips for you.


The first step is making a long plan to achieve financial opportunity. You should set clear objectives and evaluate your financial to ensure that you are on track. You should make an once-over of each objective you have to reach inside specific time period and specific objectives, for instance, pay off your obligation, spare cash for beginning installment and leave at a specific age. Make a point to give deadline or due date to each objective and summary an estimation of expense you necessity for each objective. You may need to utilize Quick Books facilitating for helping you to plan your financial condition properly. Along these lines, you will have the capacity to continue going and figure out how far you go.


The accompanying stride is making a financial plan. Try to arrange you’re financial properly and survey your current financial condition. Along these lines, you will have the capacity to profit and ensure that you are sufficiently saving cash for your future besides for your long terms objectives.


The accompanying stride is tackling your debt properly. Make a point to arrange you’re subsidizing to get out your debt more quickly, you can put additional exertion for getting money or you can basically learn on the most proficient strategy to illuminate your debt properly.

The next step is make sure that you are prepare for anything. Sometime you might encounter unexpected problem that required you to pour a lot of money to solve your problem. This can be difficult if you don’t have any saving or plan B. Therefore, I recommend you to save money from your income every time you get income.  Otherwise you can utilize payday loans or other loans to solve your unexpected financial problem and ensure that you repay them back according to your financial plan.

The next step is make sure that you make smart investment with your money. You will need to familiarize yourself with different kind of investment and ensure that you understand the mechanism and financial instrument on each investment. You might need to check your retirement plans and use your employer offer for your advantage. This way, your paycheck will be automatically transferred to a saving plan. This way, you will be able to save a lot of money then you will be able to take all of your money. So, what are you waiting for, check finance tips for more information about how to plan your financial properly and ensure that you are getting financial freedom.

Common Material In Mining That Companies Use

Mining, power, and several other companies use hard, vigorous, and sturdy materials to get the job done successfully. It will increase productivity and make them work more efficiently.
Why certain materials get used

The mining industry and other companies use chromium carbide plate because it gets made of a steel based plate that is abrasion resistant. The material is sometimes called CCO (Chromium Carbide Overlay) plate. The CCO plate is hard and is resistant to corrosion. It maintains its strength at extremely high temperatures. It gets used as an additive to the metal alloy. Overall, it is wear and tear resistant.

What is the thickness tolerance of the plate?

The thickness tolerance of CCO plate is guaranteed to be about plus or minus 10 percent. The material has 30 percent chrome and 5 percent carbon. It is durable enough to withstand high-temperature environments or wherever corrosive problems exist. Chromium carbide plate also gets made to absorb high impact.

How do CCO plates get used?

They get used in the surface treatment of materials made of metal. The surfaces of other metals get coated by a technique known as thermal spraying. The powder gets mixed with solid nickel-chromium. Afterward, the mixture gets heated at extremely high temperature. Then it gets sprayed on whatever is getting coated to form a protective layer.

How do you cut the material?

You can use plasma, laser, water jet, arch gauge, or an abrasive saw to cut CCO plates. You cannot use oxy-fuel to cut the plate. If you want to minimize carbon contamination, it is best to cut the plate from the base metal side. If you are reducing it to a sloping edge, you can burn the CCO plate from the hard side.

How do you machine CCO Plates?

The CCO plate is too hard for machining. Use Blanchard Grinding only to finish CCO plates. You can also use pre-machined mild steel inserts if extra machining is required.

How do you form the plates?

You can either roll the plates or cold-form them. It is advisable to use a recommended radius of more than 20 times the thickness of the plate.

How to you weld CCO Plates?

To weld CCO plates, you can use AWS E7018, E8018, or E81T1-Ni2. If you are joining hard-facing layer, you can use a hard-facing rod/wire to cover.

How do you line the plates?

You can use plug weld to line it from both the hard-facing layer side and base metal side. You can also use stud welding or a bolt with a countersunk hole. If the surface gets exposed to severe wear, you should protect it with hard-facing rod/wire.

In conclusion, CCO plates get used for mining and other companies because it is durable enough to withstand high-temperature environments or wherever corrosive problems exist. CCO plates also get made to absorb high impact. It is also worn and tear resistant.

Pre-engineered Steel Shelters Down on the Farm

Today’s modern farmers overwhelmingly choose pre-engineered metal barns and agricultural buildings. They rely on the affordability, flexibility, and durability of steel barns and farm buildings.

Family Farming: Steel Going Strong

Families have always been the backbone of American farming. In the past, a working farm often remained in a family for generations.

People assume today’s huge farm enterprises are mostly corporate operations.

Farming today is still predominately a family business. Families and individuals own over 90% of all of the 2.2 million farms in the U.S.

Corporate farms account for only 3% of total U.S. farms— and 90% of those are family owned. (Savvy family-owned farmers have incorporated to take advantage of legal benefits available to corporation agribusinesses.)

Profit-wise farmers today have increased their acreage as large-scale equipment expanded their capabilities. According to the U.S. Census of Agriculture, farms now average over 400 acres. Larger farms may include thousands of acres.

High-Tech Farming Demands High-Tech Structures

Large-scale farms require large-scale farm equipment. Expensive tractors, combines, trucks, trailers, corn pickers, backhoes, graders, harvesters and other equipment need protected storage space— and a lot of it.

Wood-framed barns and structures require rafters and interior support columns, reducing usable space.

Steel is a far stronger building material than wood. Pre-engineered metal barns and farm buildings can span 200’ or more without any interior columns or overhead rafters. Steel barns provide oodles of unobstructed space. Maneuvering huge tractors and ungainly farm equipment proves far easier in clear span metal barns and farm buildings.

Metal Barns and Ag Buildings: The Stronger, Safer, Smarter Way to Build

Steel barns comprise just one part of modern farming operations. Prefabricated steel buildings supply multiple advantages to all farm structural needs, including:

• Barns
• Calving barns
• Covered or indoor riding arenas
• Dairy barns and milking houses
• Farm equipment storage buildings or sheds
• Feed storage
• Fertilizer sheds
• Grain crop, or commodity storage buildings
• Hangars
• Hay barns and hay sheds
• Horse barns
• Horse stables
• Livestock shelters
• Metal and machine shops
• Multi-purpose farm buildings
• Offices
• Poultry houses
• Sale barns
• Storage buildings
• Truck and trailer garages

Whatever Your Farm Building Need, RHINO Is the Answer

Call RHINO today to learn more about metal barns and agricultural buildings framed with long-lasting, commercial-grade, prefabricated steel. Ask our metal building specialist for a more information and a free quote.

The Evolution of Steel Improves Future Steel Buildings

Steel has been being utilized for centuries, for anything from weapons and armor, to cook pots and utensils. Over these years, men have mastered and re-mastered the art of creating steel, as it doesn’t just come in nice convenient sheets and bolts. As the creative methods improved, so did the uses for steel. The past few decades, future steel buildings have been using this precious metal for commercial, industrial, and residential structures because of its reliability.

Steel has always been stronger then metals like copper and tin, but the steel used today has a far greater strength then the ore of yesteryear. A few years back several universities joined forces, allowing two professors to discover a way to further enhance the positive qualities of steel. It was determined that adding more of specific alloys like aluminum or cementite could increase the flexibility, durability and strength of steel, while making it lighter. These findings were published in Nature, scientific journal.

It appears when cementite is reshaped by stretching and squeezing the metal, the steel itself gets stronger. This is due to that specific alloy stiffening repeatedly, which intensifies the power of the finished product. The most unique aspect of cementite was that it responded much like our vessels and tissues do when put under pressure or stretched. Most metals and alloys do not respond in such a way, making cemetite have unusual biological characteristic similarities. Further studies in the future may lead to an even more powerful, yet flexible version of steel then we currently have.

Since steel is used in virtually all aspects of life, from medical procedures to transportation to buildings, realistically, the stronger the metal the better for us. As the material itself is improved, it only means the quality of the products it becomes, will also improve. This is great news when in reference to structures.

We, as a society, have been using steel for well over 3500 years. It is not surprising that improvements in steel’s strength have been made, especially when it comes to future steel buildings. The safety, security and stability of steel structures are a matter of pride. The evolution of steel is helping these units, regardless of size, to be built to last.

How to Choose a Metal Building Manufacturer

If you choose to do the bulk of your legwork yourself, the following can serve as a check-list of sorts as you make your way through the comparisons:

Is the supplier AC472 accredited?

AC472 accreditation takes place via a third-party inspection and compliance program, ensuring accredited members are in complete alignment with Chapter 17 of the International Building Code (IBC). The company must prove – via testing and inspections – that it has experience, personnel, equipment, organization, knowledge, procedures, capability and commitment to comply with the IBC.

It’s imperative that your building is compliant with the IBC, so you can automatically rule out any company that is not in compliance. Any supplier worth their salt will also work with your local building codes to ensure the finished product is in compliance with them as well.

Where are they located?

Location matters for several reasons. The closer the facility is to your job site, the lower your shipping rates will be and the faster your building and components will arrive. In most cases, a pre-engineered building won’t require many change orders but if there are changes or last-minute accessories that need to be ordered, closer proximity will make a big difference. Proximity will also increase the eco-friendliness of your project.

Have you read the final contract?

Verbal agreements are great, but paper contracts with itemized pricing are the only way to guarantee the price you’re given is accurate and that materials and services are exactly as you’ve discussed.

Selecting the best metal building supplier for your project will ensure your building reaps the low-maintenance and durable benefits metal buildings are known for.

Tips For Maintaining Your Steel or Metal Building

One of the benefits to owning a steel building is the ease of maintaining your structure. Because of their durability and ability to withstand the elements steel structures need very little maintenance and few repairs. If you invest a little time into properly taking care of your building it will easily withstand the test of time.  There are a few maintenance tips you should be aware of to help keep your building looking and functioning at its best, both during construction and in the years to follow. When deciding how to best maintain your building you should also be aware of all applicable local, state and federal laws that apply to building maintenance and renovation. Visit the OSHA website, and your local government’s site to read up on all maintenance and renovation codes before you begin.

While most prefabricated steel storage building kits are easy to put together, construction can still take several days. It is important to be aware of how to best maintain your steel building while beginning the initial construction so that your building is erected properly and the proper preventative maintenance takes place.

Hire a Contractor or Manual Laborer if Necessary

Steel building kits will come delivered in separate pieces, most all manufacturers fail to provide equipment or man power to help unload or move the pieces of your steel kit. As the owner it is up to you to make these arrangements to ensure the pieces your steel building can be easily moved to the construction site and pieces are not damaged in the moving process.

Make Sure all Pieces are Accounted for and in Good Condition

As you unload the pieces to your steel building it is important to make sure that pieces are accounted for, a missing piece, not matter how small, will compromise the overall stability and longevity of your building. Each shipment should come with a master inventory list from the manufacturer. Make sure you receive this list from the delivery crew upon arrival and use it to cross check all pieces have arrived as your building is being unloaded, as some kits such as garage buildings, come with many pieces. Also make sure to go through and thoroughly inspect each piece upon arrival. After items are taken off the truck most manufacturers have a very small window of time in which faulty parts can be replaced penalty free. The further along in the building process you are the harder it is to remove and replace individual pieces.

Check the Insulation

Metal building insulation maintenance

Insulation is one of the most important components for maintaining a proper temperature within your steel building. Damaged or weakened insulation can allow harmful moisture to build up in your steel structure, as well dramatically decreasing the effectiveness of your building’s cooling and heating system driving up energy costs. Insulation that is wet, torn or damaged in any way will allow moisture to seep into your building and condense in the insulation decreasing its effectiveness and also potentially causing rust buildup. More Options for Steel or Metal Building Insulation.

Properly Store Materials

Throughout the construction process it is important to make sure that all project pieces and tools are properly stored and cared for. If you live in area prone to rain, extreme heat or unpredictable weather conditions make sure all building pieces and insulation are fully covered and secured from unwanted movement.

Tips for Maintaining your Steel Building After Construction

Once your structure is built it is important to establish a maintenance schedule to routinely check for damage, make repairs if necessary and keep your structure clean.

Perform Bi-annual Maintenance Checks

From the beginning establish a maintenance schedule along with maintenance records. Perform these check twice a year, or after any additional construction, renovations or extremely severe weather. Create an organized system for maintenance records, recording the dates of inspections, any repairs made and all warranty and assembly information. Adding additional information, such as photos of renovation work or repairs, and the names and contact information for all contractors and workers will be helpful is you ever have a question or issue with a previous repair. This information may also be required to meet government safety regulations.

Protect your Building from Precipitation

Excessive buildup of snow or rain on or around your steel building can potentially damage the foundation and the structure. Prolonged exposure to moisture can create rust buildup, cause shifts the foundation, or actually damage and bend your buildings panels if the weight of the buildup is heavy enough. It’s important to redirect as much precipitation as possible away from your building. Arched buildings, like the quonset hut, or buildings with slanted roofs will naturally allow for rain and snow to run off the top of your building, but the sides and foundation of your building are still exposed. If you live in an area with heavy precipitation consider adding gutter and down spouts to your structure. A well constructed drainage system can easily direct heavy water flow away from the foundation of your building. If large amounts of water still pool around the base of your building, consider landscaping or altering the terrain around your building to ensure water properly drains a safe distance away.

Immediately make Minor Repairs

While small hole in steel panel, or crack in the paint may not seem that harmful it is important to make these minor repairs as soon as any damage is spotted. Water can find its way into these openings and heat and prolonged exposure to the elements can quickly magnifying the size of any weakness in your building’s surface. Be sure to fill all holes, and use primer and paint to repair scratches. Repair minor scratches in your translucent skylight panels with a thick coat of refinisher.

Wash your Building Annually

Washing your building routinely prevents the buildup of fungus or other harmful blemishes on your building’s surface. Mix any type of gentle household cleaning product, or ammonia, with warm water and use the mixture to remove dirt with a soft-bristled brush or low-pressure power washer. If something a little stronger is needed to remove mildew and fungus add a cup of bleach to the mixture.

CTBUH Awards ‘2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide’ to Bosco Verticale

The Bosco Verticale tower in Milan was awarded “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide” by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

CTBUH awards “2015 Best Tall Building Worldwide” to Bosco Verticale

Designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, the building design was applauded for its “extraordinary implementation of vegetation at such scale and height,” CTBUH said in a statement, adding that “the building supplants traditional cladding materials with screens of greenery such that the plants act as an extension of the tower’s exterior envelope, creating a distinct microclimate.”

Boeri was recognized and given the award during the 14th Annual CTBUH International Best Tall Building Awards Symposium, Ceremony, and Dinner, held Nov. 12 at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in Chicago.

The residential towers were inaugurated in October 2014. Horticulturalists and botanists gave their input during the building’s design and construction process.

Bosco Verticale, which translates to vertical forest, was selected from the four 2015 regional winners: One World Trade Center in New York, CapitaGreen in Singapore, and the Burj Mohammed Bin Rashid Tower in Abu Dhabi.

Another design by Boeri implementing a similar approach to the combination of greenery and a vertically built environment is La Tour des Cedres, a mixed-use tower which was recently approved by the city of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Benefits of Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings

It’s no surprise that steel is an incredibly durable material. Steel is strong and steady, and 100% recyclable, which means it’s also environmentally conscious. There are many reasons steel makes for an ideal building material, and this article explores three of the main benefits these types of structures provide.

Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings

1. Durability: Steel buildings are made to withstand everything Mother Nature can throw at them. The material is extremely tough, and therefore it is appropriate for most environments. Steel is easily formed into any shape, and can be flawlessly incorporated with most other building materials, all the while being able to brave virtually all environmental elements. Heavy winds and rains, extreme heat, snowfall, etc, you can rest assured that your steel building is equipped to handle all extremes. They are fire-resistant as well, and this is especially important when considering what you’ll be storing within your structure. The uses for these buildings are endless, however many people use them for the storage of planes, cars, equipments, and other very valuable possessions. You should be confident that your treasures are being protected, and with steel buildings this is guaranteed.

2.  Speed and Cost Advantages: Pre-Engineered Steel buildings can be made easily and cost-effectively. Because you’re purchasing a building that has essentially already been made, you only pay for the materials that are used. There are common components within each type of steel building, meaning that the creation of one doesn’t require intensive planning and precious time (and money). Pre-engineered buildings are simple and quick to erect because of their pre-engineered state. This means that all components have been previously prepared and are waiting to be instated. This saves on labor (and therefore costs), and greatly decreases the time it takes to set up. To ensure these are optimized, purchase your building from an experienced manufacturer, who will provide a qualified crew to assist in your production.

3. Environmentally Conscious: Care of the environment should be on everyone’s agenda, especially with revelations in recent years. Steel itself is entirely recyclable, and therefore the impact it has on the environment is much less than it’s alternatives. Because it’s a renewable resource, it’s much more considerate to use than non-reusable resources, like wood. Professional companies will design their structures to minimize the amount of material and waste, and can also incorporate leftover material from other projects. Because of the long lifespan of a steel building, it’s unlikely there will be any need for an update or an additional structure. Steel buildings are often able to be transported again and repurposed at a different location.

Investigation of the July 27, 2011 Systems-engineered Metal Building Collapse in San Marcos, TX

1. Executive Summary

A structural failure investigation was carried out on the systems-engineered metal building that collapsed on July 27, 2010 at 209 Thermon Dr., San Marcos, TX. The building was under construction during the collapse which killed one worker and injured another.

An engineer from the Office of Engineering Services (OES) in the Directorate of Construction (DOC) at OSHA’s National Office in Washington, DC visited the incident site on August 8 and 9, 2011 to inspect the collapsed systems-engineered metal building and discuss the circumstances surrounding the collapse with the compliance officer from the Austin Area Office and the general contractor. The inspection included taking measurements of the collapsed systems-engineered metal building, examining the failed connection between the footing and the primary framing columns, collecting test samples of base plates, anchor rods, bolts, washers, and nuts, and taking photographs of the collapsed systems-engineered metal building.

The systems-engineered metal building was designed and manufactured by the Metallic Building Company. The general contractor on the project was Bailey-Elliott Construction of Austin, TX and the subcontractor responsible for the erection of the systems-engineered metal building was Jetika Steel Erectors.

In conjunction with the field observations and laboratory tests, we reviewed the manufacturer’s drawings, the installation manual developed by the Metallic Building Company, foundation drawings prepared by the foundation engineer, current construction industry practices applicable to the design, manufacturing and erection of systems-engineered metal buildings, and the 29 CFR 1926 OSHA Construction Standard applicable to the erection of systems-engineered metal buildings.

The engineer’s field observations at the incident site revealed that neither temporary bracings necessary for the safe erection of systems-engineered metal buildings nor permanent wall bracings required to resist lateral loads as shown in the manufacturer’s drawings were installed.

The laboratory results indicated that the properties of the materials used for the fabrication of the systems-engineered metal building’s structural elements and the fasteners used to connect the metal building to the foundation slab satisfied the requirements specified in the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) Standard.

We concluded from our investigation that the subcontractor responsible for the erection of the systems-engineered metal building did not follow the guidelines indicated in the manufacturer’s drawings and the procedures specified in the installation manual developed by the manufacturer to safely erect and maintain the structural stability of systems-engineered metal buildings during construction.

Had the erector followed the procedures specified in the installation manual developed by the Metallic Building Company with respect to temporary and permanent bracings and had the erector complied with the OSHA regulations pertaining to the erection of systems-engineered metal buildings, he would have avoided the collapse of the systems-engineered metal building and thereby prevented the resulting loss of life and injuries.

2. The Incident

On July 27, 2010 at around 12 p.m., a systems-engineered metal building collapsed at 209 Thermon Dr., San Marcos, TX, killing one worker and injuring another. The building was under construction at the time of the collapse and it was intended to be a new manufacturing building for Thermon Manufacturing Company. Thermon manufactures heat-tracing products that are used in oil, gas and refining industries.

On August 3, 2011, the OSHA Regional Administrator for Region VI asked the Office of Engineering Services (OES) of the Directorate of Construction (DOC) at OSHA’s National Office in Washington, DC, to provide engineering assistance in investigating the collapse and determining the causes of the incident.

An engineer from the Office of Engineering Services (OES) in the Directorate of Construction (DOC) visited the incident site on August 8 and 9, 2011 to discuss the circumstances surrounding the collapse with the compliance officer from of the Austin Area office and the general contractor on the project.

The engineer inspected the collapsed building, took measurements of the systems-engineered metal building, examined the failed connection between the footing and the primary frame columns, collected test samples of base plates, anchor rods, bolts, washers and nuts, and took photographs of the systems-engineered metal building collapse.

The systems-engineered metal building was designed and manufactured by Metallic Building Company. The general contractor on the project was Bailey-Elliott Construction of Austin and the subcontractor responsible for the erection of the systems-engineered metal building was Jetika Steel Erectors. Jetika Steel Erectors was hired by Bailey-Elliot Construction to erect the structure.

The DOC’s investigation included:

  • Review of the manufacturer’s drawings developed by the Metallic Building Company (see Ref. 1).
  • Review of the foundation drawings prepared by the foundation engineer (see Ref. 2).
  • Examining the photographs obtained from the incident site during our site visit.
  • Review of the current industry practices applicable to the design, manufacturing, and erection of systems-engineered metal buildings (Refs. 4-to-13).
  • Evaluating the laboratory results of the test samples collected during our site visit in order to determine the actual properties of the material used to manufacture the systems-engineered building components.
  • Review of the requirements in 29 CFR 1926 the OSHA Construction Standard applicable to construction of systems-engineered metal buildings (Ref. 3).
3. Background Information

Systems-engineered metal buildings are widely known in the building trades as “pre-engineered buildings”. The Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), an association of companies engaged in designing, manufacturing and marketing systems-engineered metal buildings, uses the term “metal-building systems” to describe these buildings (see Ref. 11).

Systems-engineered metal buildings are comprised of rigid frames (moment-resisting frames) spanning the short direction of the building; purlins, girts, sidewall bracings to resist lateral loads in the direction perpendicular to the frames; vertical bracings located in endwalls primarily to resist lateral loads acting in the direction parallel to the frames; and roof diaphragm; and a system of horizontal braces that help to distribute loads among the lateral load-resisting elements (see Figure 1).

Systems-engineered metal buildings are products of steel-building systems manufacturers that are chiefly engaged in the practice of designing and fabricating these structures. Manufacturers that produce these buildings were in the past certified under the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Metal Building Systems Certification Program, AISC FCD-90 (Ref. 11). The AISC Quality Certification Program served as a pre-qualification system for structural steel fabricators. The purpose of the AISC Quality Certification Program was to confirm to the construction industry, builders, and owners that a certified structural steel fabricating plant has the personnel, organization, experience, procedures, knowledge, equipment, capability, and commitment to produce fabricated steel of the required quality for a steel building (Ref. 11).

On April 8, 2008, the International Accreditation Services (IAS) Accreditation Committee approved the new Inspection Programs for Manufacturers of systems-engineered metal buildings (Ref. 11). This third-party accreditation program for the inspection of systems-engineered metal building manufacturers was based on the requirements of Chapter 17 of the International Building Code (Ref. 4). The program provided code officials with a means to approve the inspection programs of manufacturers involved in the fabrication of systems-engineered metal buildings. The IAS currently administers the systems-engineered Metal Building Certification Program and issues the accreditation certificates (IAS AC472) that are fully endorsed by MBMA.

The three main components of a systems-engineered metal building, i.e., the structural system, the wall system, and the roof system are designed to behave as an integrated system under gravity and lateral loads. The structural components of systems-engineered metal buildings are designed by a licensed professional engineer experienced in the design of these structures (Ref. 11).

In properly functioning conventional buildings, loads are transferred between various building elements by a system of load transfer called a load path. Contrary to the conventional building design, the key factor in systems-engineered metal building design is that the structure must be designed as a system. The members are designed as if they are located in the completed building, with all supports and bracings in place to maintain stability of the structure (Ref. 11).

The following loads are considered in the design of systems-engineered metal buildings (see Refs. 4 & 11):

  1. Dead loads due to the actual weight of the building system, such as rigid frames, wall and roof members.
  2. Collateral loads due to the weight of additional permanent materials other than the building system, such as sprinklers, mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing, partitions, and ceilings.
  3. Floor live loads due to loads induced on the floor system by the use and occupancy of the building.
  4. Roof live loads due to loads that are produced by workers during maintenance.
  5. Snow loads due to the weight of snow, assumed to act on the horizontal projection on the roof of the structure.
  6. Seismic loads due to the lateral load acting in any direction on a structural system due to the action of an earthquake.
  7. Wind loads due to the load caused by the wind from any horizontal direction.
  8. Dynamic live loads due to loads induced by cranes and material handling systems.
  9. Thermal loading due to a variation in temperature.

The load transfer from the systems-engineered metal building to the foundation occurs through anchor rods. The design of the foundation and the anchor rods is not the responsibility of the systems-engineered metal building manufacturer (see Ref. 11). Typically the systems-engineered metal buildings manufacturer will specify the quantity, diameter and spacing of anchor rods for a specific condition based on the allowable forces that are to be transferred to the foundation. But, the anchor rod setting, embedment, and foundation reinforcement details are the responsibility of the project engineer. The project engineer designs the foundations for the most critical load effect and thereby completes the final link of the load path to the foundation (Refs. 7, 8, & 11).

The AISC, Code of Standard Practice for Steel Building-Erection (see Ref. 6) requires grouting and leveling (using leveling nuts or leveling plates or shims) during erection to stabilize base plates, align column bases, and for uniform distribution of the column loads to the foundation. Contrary to this practice, columns of a systems-engineered metal building are usually placed directly on top of concrete foundations. The MBMA common industry practices specify grouting and leveling as work usually not included in the erection of systems-engineered metal buildings.

Cast-in-place steel anchor rods are classified as headed, threaded with nut, and hooked (see Ref. 6). The strength of steel anchors depends on material properties, size, edge distance, embedment depth, spacing between steel anchors, and concrete strength of the foundation. The design capacity of an anchor is very sensitive to edge distance. When an anchor rod is placed too close to the edge of a concrete element, it is very difficult to develop the required force. Therefore, to avoid a splitting failure of concrete, adequate edge distance has to be provided.

Hooked anchor rods (J- or L- bolts) made from high strength steel do not develop their full design strength. The AISC (American Institute of Steel Construction) Manual, 13th edition, stated that high-strength steels are not recommended for use in hooked bolts because bending with heat might materially alter their strength (see Ref. 6). The AISC Manual specifies that hooked anchor rods should be used only for axially loaded members subject to compression. Hooked anchor rods subjected to tensile loading, as a result of crushing inside the hook, fails by pulling out of concrete before developing its full tensile strength, an undesirable type of failure. The AISC Manual recommends the use of headed anchor rods for tensile loading over hooked anchor rods. Hooked anchor rods are commonly used by contractors because a larger diameter hooked anchor rod is cheaper than a smaller diameter headed rod of equivalent capacity.

The 2009 IBC, International Building Code (Ref. 4), specifies design procedures for anchor rods subjected to tension and shear. The American Concrete Institute Standard, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (ACI 318-08) and Commentary, Appendix D, lists detailed design guides for anchoring steel elements to concrete (see Ref. 5).

Systems-engineered metal buildings are most vulnerable to collapse during erection when all components are not yet installed (Ref. 14). Therefore, it is most important at the time of construction to ensure that all temporary and permanent bracings called for in the installation manuals and manufacturer’s drawings are properly installed at all construction stages. Serious precautions shall be taken by the erectors so that all components of the structure interact with each other to provide the required level of structural stability and safety.The erection methods used for systems-engineered metal buildings depend on the type and size of the building, the equipment used for erection, the experience level of the crews, and the individual site conditions (Refs. 7-to-12).

Temporary bracings are needed for squaring, plumbing, and securing the structural framing. The AISC manual (Ref. 6) requires that temporary bracings shall be provided wherever necessary to support the loads to which the structure may be subjected during construction and shall be left in place as long as required for safety (see Appendix). Loads during erection of systems-engineered metal buildings include wind loads acting on the exposed framing, impact loads from construction equipment and/or adjacent members while being erected. Not only temporary bracings but also proper tightening of all fasteners is necessary for structural stability during erection.

The ASCE 37-02 (American Society of Civil Engineers Standard – Design Loads on Structures During Construction) states that structures shall be stabilized during construction to resist wind loads with full regard to all intermediate stages of construction (Ref. 13). Systems-engineered metal buildings are designed as an enclosed building under wind loading. However, the projected areas of exposed frames and roof members during construction might be larger than that of an enclosed building, thus receiving more wind load. Therefore, it may be necessary to check the stability of an open structure subjected to wind load during construction. The ASCE 37-02 standard stipulates that for certain hazardous construction operations, it might be appropriate to apply a minimum wind pressure of 10 psf (see Appendix).

Manufacturers in most cases do not furnish erection drawings and they simply cite the variability of the erection procedures, local conditions, and the erector’s expertise (Ref. 11). Therefore, it is necessary for the project engineer and the owner to discus proper erection procedures that address the necessary temporary bracings before the construction document is finalized in order to maintain structural stability during construction (Refs. 7-to-11).

Erection plans show temporary supports such as guys, braces, false work, and cribbing or other elements required for the erection operation. The erector is responsible for furnishing and installing these elements. Some systems-engineered metal building standards and technical manuals explicitly require erection plans for the construction of systems-engineered metal buildings and specify that erection drawings must be implemented by the erector/contractor (Ref. 10). Several systems-engineered metal buildings have collapsed in the past due to inadequate temporary erection bracings (see Ref. 14). Therefore, it is the duty of the general contractor or erector (subcontractor) to prepare a site-specific erection plan to successfully erect systems-engineered metal buildings without collapse, injury and/or death (Refs. 7-to-11).

4. Description of the Collapsed Systems-engineered Metal Building

The systems-engineered metal building in San Marcos, TX, consisted of four buildings (see Ref. 1). These were: Buildings A, B, C, & D (see Figure 2). Building A was approximately 300′ long and 150′ wide. Building B was approximately 76′ -10″ long and 20′ wide. Building C was approximately 54′ by 42′. Building D was approximately 35′ long and 7′-6″ wide.

The structural framing of building A consisted of 11 primary (rigid) frames and 2 standard endwall frames with “beam and post” type construction spanning in the north-south direction (see Figure 2). Building A was comprised of 10 bays with a bay spacing of 25′ and 2 bays with a bay spacing of 24′-8″ in the east-west direction. The symmetrical primary frames spanned 150 ft. with an eave height of 24 ft. (see Fig 3). None of the column interior flange braces specified in the manufacturer’s construction drawings (see sheet number R2 in Ref. 1) was installed prior to the collapse of the building.

The rafters of the primary frames consisted of 4 roof beams that were connected using 8 – ¾”N by 2″ long A325 bolts. The rafters were joined to the columns by 14 – 1″N by 2½” long, 14 – 1″ N by 2¾” long or 16 – ¾”N by 2½” long A325 bolts (see Ref. 1). None of the rafter bottom flange braces specified in the manufacturer’s construction drawings (see sheet number R3 in Ref. 1) was installed prior to the collapse of the building.

Cold formed Z-section sidewall girts at spacings of 5′-8″, 5′-4″, and 5′-7″ were specified in the manufacturer’s construction drawings (see Ref. 1). Some but not all of the sidewall girts were installed prior to the collapse of the building (Figure 12).

The construction drawings showed for Building A four 1/2″ diameter x-braces for the north sidewall (see drawing E9 in Ref. 1), four 3/8″ diameter x-braces for the south sidewall (see drawing E10 in Ref. 1), one 1/4″ diameter x-brace for the east endwall (see drawing E12 in Ref. 1), and one 1/4″ diameter x-brace for the west endwall (see drawing E13 in Ref. 1). The drawings indicated for Building B one 1/4″ diameter x-brace for the south sidewall (see drawing E15 in Ref. 1) and for building C one 1/4″ diameter x-brace for the north sidewall (see drawing E11 in Ref. 1). These permanent braces were provided by the manufacturer to resist lateral loads. None of these braces was installed prior to the collapse of the building (see Figure 12).

The roof of the systems-engineered metal building had a low-profile slope of 1½ –to-12. The manufacturer’s drawing indicated 1/4″, 5/16″, & 3/8″ diameter x-bracings between the roof framing lines D & E and K & L (see sheet number E5 in Ref. 1). Cold-formed Z-section purlins at a spacing of 5′ were specified to support the roof panels. None of the x-braces indicated in the roof framing plan was installed and not all purlins were put in place prior to the collapse of the building (see Figure 12).

Base plates were fillet welded to the columns of the primary frames by the manufacturer before they were delivered to the site. The columns were connected to the foundation slab using six anchor rods. The posts of the endwalls had fillet welded base plates at their base and were connected to the foundation slab using four anchor rods at the site (see Ref. 1).

5. Structural Failure Investigation

The systems-engineered metal building was designed and manufactured by the Metallic Building Company. The company was accredited by the International Accreditation Service, Inc. (see Figure 4). Accreditation Criteria for Inspection Programs for the manufacturers of systems-engineered metal buildings (AC472) is recognized under Section 1704.2.2 of the 2009 International Building Code (Ref. 4). The Building Code used for the design of the systems-engineered metal building was the 2009 International Building Code (Ref. 4).

The manufacturer’s drawings specified the following design criteria (see manufacturer’s drawing sheet number E1 in Ref. 1):

• Occupancy Category II
• Roof dead load
Superimposed dead load
2.25 psf (Building A)
2.85 psf (Building B)
2.58 psf (Building C)
2.33 psf (Building D)
Collateral loads
5.00 psf (Building A)
0.50 psf (Building B)
3.00 psf (Building C & D)
• Roof live load 20.00 psf (reduction allowed)
• Snow load
Ground snow load (pg)
5.00 psf
Snow load important factor (I)
1.00 psf
Flat roof snow load (Pf)
3.50 psf (Building A)
5.00 psf (Buildings B, C, & D)
Snow exposure factor (Ce)
Thermal factor (Ct)
• Wind load
Basic wind speed
90 mph
Wind important factor (I)
Wind exposure category
Internal pressure coefficient (GCpi)
• Seismic load
Seismic design category
Soil site class
D (stiff soil)
Mapped spectral acceleration short periods (Ss)
0.090 g
Mapped spectral acceleration for a 1-second (S1)
0.031 g
Design spectral response acceleration (Sds)
0.096 g
Design spectral acceleration for a 1-second (Sd1)
0.050 g

The Metallic Building Company specified the following notes as a builder/contractor responsibility in the manufacturer’s construction drawings (see sheet number E1 in Ref. 1):

  • The Builder is responsible for applying and observing all pertinent safety rules and regulations and OSHA standards as applicable.
  • The Builder/Contractor is responsible for all erection of the steel and associated work in compliance with the Metal Building Manufacturers drawings. Temporary supports, such as temporary guys, braces, false work and other elements required for erection will be determined, furnished and installed by the erector (AISC Code of Standard Practice Sept. 86 Section 7.91. & Mar. 05 Section 7.10.3).
  • The metal building manufacturer is not responsible for the design, materials and workmanship of the foundation. Anchor rod plans (F1-to-F5) prepared by the manufacturer are intended to show only location, diameter and projection of the anchor rods required to attach the metal building system to the foundation. It is the responsibility of the end customer to ensure that adequate provisions are made for specifying rod embedment, bearing values, tie rods and other associated items embedded in the concrete foundation, as well as foundation design for the loads imposed by the Metal Building System, other imposed load, and the bearing capacity of the soil and other conditions of the building site (MBMA 06 Sections 3.2.2. and A3).
  • Material properties of steel bar, plate and sheet used in the fabrication of built-up structural framing members conform to ASTM A529, ASTM A 572, ASTM A1101 SS, or ASTM A1011 HSLAS with a minimum yield point of 50 ksi.
  • Material properties of hot rolled structural shapes conform to ASTM A992, ASTM A529, or ASTM A572 with a minimum specified yield point of 50 ksi.
  • Hot rolled angles, other than flange braces, conform to ASTM A36 minimums.
  • Hollow structural shapes conform to ASTM A500 grade B; minimum yield point is 42 ksi for round HSS and 46 ksi for rectangular HSS.
  • Material properties of cold-formed light gage steel members conform to grade 55, with a minimum yield point of 55 ksi.
  • All bolted joints with A325-09 Type 1 bolts are specified as snug-tightened joints in accordance with the “Specification for Structural Joints Using ASTM A325 or ASTM A490 Bolts, June 30, 2004.” Pretensioning methods, including turn-of-nut and calibrated wrench are NOT required.
  • Anchor rods are A36 or A307 material unless noted otherwise.
  • X-Bracing is to be installed to a taut condition with all slack removed. Do not tighten beyond this state.
  • This project is designed using manufacturer’s standard serviceability standard.
  • This metal building system is designed as enclosed.

The installation manual developed by the Metallic Building Company stated that (see Ref. 7):

  • The construction drawings show the buildings as engineered and fabricated according to the information given to the Manufacturer. The building construction drawings will always govern with regard to construction details and specific building parts. However, it may be necessary for the engineer of record (not the Manufacturer) to prepare installation sequences drawings.
  • The Manufacturer disclaims any responsibility for damages that result from use of the installation manual since the actual installation operation and conditions are beyond the Manufacturer’s control. Only experienced, knowledgeable installers with trained crews and proper equipment should be engaged to do installation.
  • It is emphasized that the Manufacturer is only a manufacturer of metal buildings and components and is not engaged in the installation of its products. Opinions expressed by the Manufacturer about installation practices are intended to present only a guide as to how the components could be assembled to create a building. Both the quality and safety of installation and the ultimate customer satisfaction with the completed building are determined by the experience, expertise, and skills of the installation crews as well as the equipment available for handling the materials.
  • The Metal Building Manufacturer’s Association, “Code of Standard Practice” shall govern with respect to fabrication tolerances, installation methods, and all field work associated with the project in question. The installer should familiarize himself with the contents of this document.

The following installation procedures were specified as a general guide in the installation manual developed by the Metallic Building Company (see Ref. 7):

  • Plan to install a braced bay first.
  • It is the responsibility of the installer to provide temporary installation bracing until the structure is complete.
  • Remove temporary bracing only after all paneling has been installed.
  • Install wind bracing. Diagonal bracing in metal buildings is critical! Additional temporary bracing is needed to stabilize the structure during installation. All bracing should be installed to a taut condition removing all slack.
  • Finish installing flange braces (i.e., rafter flange braces) to purlins as soon as the purlin has been installed.

The manufacturer designed the primary frames assuming hinge-connections at column bases, i.e., no bending moment was assumed to be transferred from the columns to the foundation. The manufacturer’s drawings specified ASTM A325 bolts to connect the rafters to the columns of the primary frames. Permanent x-braces were specified in the manufacturer’s drawings to resist lateral loads (see Ref. 1). However, our site visit revealed that neither the permanent braces called for in the drawings nor the temporary bracings specified in the installation manual were put in place at the time of the collapse of the systems-engineered metal building.

The unfactored reactions due to the service loads specified in the design criteria for the primary and endwall frames were shown in the construction drawings (see sheet numbers F6 to F7 in Ref. 1). The construction drawings stated that it is the responsibility of the foundation engineer to apply the load factors from the applicable building code, in order to design the foundation. The foundation was a post tensioned slab on grade. A36 or A307 anchor bolts were recommended to connect the columns to the foundation (see Ref. 1).

The sizes of the base plates of the primary framing columns specified in the manufacturer’s drawings were 1′-4″ long by 8″ wide, 1′-3″ long by 8″ wide, 1′-2″ long by 8″ wide, and 1′-1″ long by 8″ wide. The thicknesses of the base plates indicated in the manufacturer’s drawings were 0.625″ and 0.750″. Six anchor rods having diameters of 1″ or ¾” and with a minimum projection of 3″ above the slab on grade were specified to anchor the base plates of the primary framing columns to the foundation. A 4″ center to center spacing of anchor rods was specified in the drawings (see manufacturer’s drawing F4, details B, C, D, & E in Ref. 1). The foundation engineer specified a minimum length of 18″ for the anchor rods (see Ref. 2). The minimum center-to-center spacing of cast-in-place anchors required by ACI 318-08 (see Ref. 5) is 4da (4da = 4″, where da= 1.0″ is the diameter of anchor rods used). Therefore, the 4″ spacing provided by the foundation engineer for the anchor rods was found to be adequate.

The sizes of the base plates of the endwall framing posts (columns) indicated in the manufacturer’s drawings were 10.5″ long by 6″ wide and 8.5″ long by 6″ wide. The thickness of the base plates was 0.375″. Four anchor rods having a diameter of 5/8″ and a minimum projection of 2″ above the slab on grade were specified to anchor the base plates of the endwall framing posts to the foundation. The manufacturer’s drawing showed 3″ center to center spacing of anchor rods (see drawing F4, details H, K, & J in Ref. 1). The minimum center-to-center spacing of cast-in-place anchors required by ACI 318-08 (see Ref. 5) is 4da (4da = 2.5″, where da = 5/8″ is the diameter of anchor rods used). Therefore, the 3″ spacing provided by the foundation engineer for the anchor rods was found to be adequate.

The construction drawings indicated an edge distance of 4″ to the center of the anchor rods in the north-south direction for the primary framings. The drawings showed an edge distance of 2½” to the center of the anchor rods in the north-south direction and an edge distance of 4″ to the center of the anchor rods in the east-west direction for the endwall framing. The minimum edge distance required for untorqued cast-in-place anchors (J-bolts are not likely to be torqued) by ACI 318-08 is the same as the minimum concrete cover required for reinforcement. The minimum concrete cover required for reinforcement by ACI 318-08 for concrete exposed to earth is 2″. Therefore, the edge distances provided for the anchor rods were found to be adequate.

The foundation drawings called for post tensioned mat foundation, a minimum concrete cylinder compressive strength at 28 days of 3000 psi, and tendons to be ½” in diameter – 270 ksi low relaxation strands. The mat foundation was a 6″ thick post tensioned slab monolithically cast with 12″ wide by 24″ deep post tensioned beams spaced approximately 25′ center to center in the east-west direction and approximately 18′, 25′ & 32′ in the north-south direction (see foundation drawings F01 & F02 in Ref. 2).

We observed during our site visit that the anchor rods of the north primary framing columns pulled out from the foundation with insignificant breakout of the portion of the surrounding concrete (see Figure 13). The anchor rods at the south primary frame columns were observed to be failed in tension. Figure 14 shows when a column was being cut to obtain samples that can be used for testing the plates and fillet weld connections. The anchor pullout mode of failure in the north primary frame columns was believed to be caused by the lateral torsional buckling of the rafters that had no flange braces followed by the failure of the south primary frame columns at their base (see Figures 15-to-18).

OSHA regulations for steel erection require a minimum of four bolts in all columns except for “posts”. Our site visit revealed that there were six bolts for the primary framing columns and four anchor bolts for the endwall posts. The OSHA Standard states that construction loads shall not be placed on any steel structural frame work unless such frame work is bolted, welded or otherwise adequately secured and these loads shall be placed within 8 feet (25m) of center line of the primary support member. Our site visit confirmed that there were some unsecured or unfastened purlins between the primary frames on the rafters (see Figure 19).

Rigid frames of systems-engineered metal buildings offer little lateral resistance perpendicular to their plane unless fixed at their bases. Stability in this direction is provided by sidewall permanent bracings consisting of steel rods or cables. Our site visit revealed that neither temporary bracings nor permanent wall bracings shown in the manufacturer’s construction drawings were installed. Figures 5-to-12 showed the progress of the construction of the systems-engineered metal building without temporary and permanent bracings. The 150 ft. – long rafters without intermediate vertical support, no bottom flange braces, and no cross bracing at roof level were marginally stable under dead weight alone. A slight lateral load that may have occurred at any time during erection was sufficient to create lateral torsional buckling of the rafters and thereby the collapse of the rigid frames (see Ref. 11).

It was believed that the rafters with no flange braces and no temporary bracings laterally buckled and caused one or more south side columns of the primary framing to tilt out in the direction of the west side, thus leading to the breaking of the simple non-moment resisting connection at the base of the columns (see Figure 18). The lateral displacement of the rafters may have been caused by lateral load, uplift from wind, or/and impact load from equipment or adjacent members while being erected. Once one of the columns failed at its base, then the other columns on either side of the failed column located on the south side of the building buckled and snapped their base connections leading to the pullout of the anchor bolts in the north side columns (see Figures 15-to-17). This failure indicated that the erector did not follow the procedures stated in the installation manual provided by the manufacturer to the general contractor/erector to safely erect the systems-engineered metal buildings. Had the erector followed the procedures given in the installation manual and the manufacturer’s drawings with respect to temporary and permanent bracings, he would have avoided the collapse of the systems-engineered metal building.

Additionally, the AISC manual (see Ref. 6) and the OSHA Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry, 29 CFR 1926 (see Ref. 3) stated that structural stability shall be maintained at all times during the erection process. The erector failed to ensure the stability of the structure during construction as stipulated in the AISC manual and the OSHA Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry.

6. Conclusions

Based on our investigation, we conclude that:

  1. The collapse during construction of the systems-engineered metal building occurred because of the lack of temporary bracings in the east-west direction on the north and south sides.
  1. Structural stability of the systems-engineered metal building was not maintained during the erection process.
  1. The contractor failed to follow the erection procedures recommended by the manufacturer of the systems-engineered metal building, a copy of which was provided to the contractor.
7. References
  1. Metal Building Company Manufacturer’s Drawings. Sheet Numbers E1-E41, R1-R16, & F1-F8.
  2. Metal Building Foundation Drawings (Shop drawing and details). Sheet Numbers F01-F04.
  3. 29 CFR 1926 – Construction Industry Regulations. Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration. July 1, 2010.
  4. 2009 IBC. International Building Code. International Code Council. March 26, 2009.
  5. ACI Standard, Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (ACI 318-08) and Commentary, American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI, 2008.
  6. AISC Steel Construction Manual 13th edition, American Institute of Steel Construction, Chicago, IL, 2005.
  7. Installation Manual (R-3/12-04/10M). Metallic Building Company. NCI Building Systems, L.P., March 2004.
  8. Product and Engineering Manual. Nucor Building Systems. Waterloo, IN, 2001.
  9. Quality Pre-engineered Metal Buildings. Assembly and Safety Manual. Texas Pre-engineered Metal Buildings. April 2004.
  10. Technical Instructions – TI 809-30. Metal Building Systems. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. August 1980.
  11. Low Rise Building Systems Manual. MBMA (Metal Building Manufacturers Association). Cleveland, OH, 1996.
  12. Fisher J. M. & West M. A. Erection Bracing of Low-Rise Structured Steel Buildings, American Institute of Steel Construction. October 2003.
  13. ASCE 37-02 – American Society of Civil Engineers Standard – Design Loads on Structures During Constructions. American Society of Civil Engineers. Reston, VA, 2002.
  14. Sputo, T. & Ellifritt, D.S. Collapse of Metal Building System During Erection. ASCE Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, Vol. 5, No. 4, November 1991.
  15. VP Buildings Hardwall Application Guide. Accessed on November 5, 2011.
8. Figures

Figure 1  Typical components of a systems-engineered metal building (source VP Buildings Hardwall Application Guide  Ref. 15). For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 1 Typical components of a systems-engineered metal building (source VP Buildings Hardwall Application Guide – Ref. 15)

Figure  2  Systems-engineered Metal Building Plan Showing Anchor Rod Setting and Buildings A, B, C, & D
(see manufacturer's drawing sheet F1 of 8 in Ref. 1). For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 2 Systems-engineered Metal Building Plan Showing Anchor Rod Setting and Buildings A, B, C, & D (see manufacturer’s drawing sheet F1 of 8 in Ref. 1).

Figure 3  Typical Primary Frame for Building A (see Ref. 1). For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 3 Typical Primary Frame for Building A (see Ref. 1).

Figure  4  Metallic Building Company-Certificate of Accreditation. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 4 Metallic Building Company-Certificate of Accreditation.

Figure 5 Primary Frame Column being Hoisted to be Erected. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 5 Primary Frame Column being Hoisted to be Erected.

Figure 6  Primary Frame Column being Erected. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 6 Primary Frame Column being Erected.

Figure 7  Primary Frame Column being Bolted to the Foundation Slab. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 7 Primary Frame Column being Bolted to the Foundation Slab.

Figure 8 Columns of the North Sidewall during the First Phase of the Erection of the Systems-engineered Metal Building. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 8 Columns of the North Sidewall during the First Phase of the Erection of the Systems-engineered Metal Building.

Figure 9 North Sidewall and East Endwall Framings. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 9 North Sidewall and East Endwall Framings.

Figure 10 Columns of North and South Sidewalls and East Endwall Framing. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 10 Columns of North and South Sidewalls and East Endwall Framing.

Figure 11 Rafter being Connected to a Primary Frame Column. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 11 Rafter being Connected to a Primary Frame Column.

Figure 12 The Systems-engineered Metal Building before Collapse. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 12 The Systems-engineered Metal Building before Collapse.

Figure 13 North Sidewall Column Anchor Pullout Failure. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 13 North Sidewall Column Anchor Pullout Failure.

Figure 14 Primary Frame Column being Cut for Testing. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 14 Primary Frame Column being Cut for Testing.

Figure 15 The Systems-engineered Metal Building after Collapse. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 15 The Systems-engineered Metal Building after Collapse.

Figure 16 North Sidewall Columns Anchor Pullout Failure. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 16 North Sidewall Columns Anchor Pullout Failure.

Figure 17 South Sidewall Columns after Collapse. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 17 South Sidewall Columns after Collapse.

Figure 18 North Sidewall Columns and rafters after Collapse. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 18 North Sidewall Columns and rafters after Collapse.

Figure 19 Unfastened or Unsecured Purlins Lying on the Rafters. For problems with accessibility in using figures and illustrations, please contact the DOC at 202-693-2020.

Figure 19 Unfastened or Unsecured Purlins Lying on the Rafters.

UC Berkeley California Memorial Stadium Press Box, Berkeley, Calif.


Building Team
Owner: The University of California, Berkeley, Calif.
Architect: HNTB Architecture, Inc., Los Angeles
Architect: STUDIOS Architecture, San Francisco
Structural Engineer: Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc., San Francisco
General Contractor: Webcor Builders, San Francisco
Steel Fabricator: The Herrick Corporation, Stockton, Calif.
Steel Detailer: SNC, Compton, Calif.
Steel Erector: The Herrick Corporation,Stockton, Calif.
Consultant: Hassett Engineering, Inc., Castro Valley, Calif.
Photo: Tim Griffith

Built as a memorial to fallen alumni of World War I, California Memorial Stadium has been endured as one of the most picturesque venues in college football from its opening in 1923 to the present day. After it was discovered that the stadium was at particular risk in an earthquake, which is further exacerbated by the fact that the stadium sits directly over the Hayward Fault, the university undertook a large project to seismically retrofit as well as modernize the stadium. As a part of this project, the western stadium bowl was seismically retrofitted and modernized while keeping the existing historic perimeter concrete wall in place.

The “crown-jewel” of the project, however, is the new long-span two-story structural steel press box that floats atop the new west portion of the stadium. One of the main architectural design goals was to achieve a floating effect to the press box by reducing the number of press box supports to a bare minimum. The resulting press box structure is 375 ft long with two main spans of 100 ft long and end-span cantilevers of 33 ft.

The press box arches to follow the curvature of the existing exterior wall and is supported by four concrete cores (two at each end) and four center structural steel columns. The press box is two-stories with the first floor housing the print, radio, and TV media functions and the second floor housing a club space with views and seating facing the field as well as a dramatic 25-ft cantilevered balcony with a glass deck that faces campus with panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.

The main structure of the press box consists of a story deep space truss that is comprised of radial trusses that are supported by primary trusses which span between the concrete cores and center columns. The occupant load for the entire press box is over 1,700 people, and over 1,350 tons of structural steel were used in its construction. The overall construction cost for the project was $215 million, with the press box portion being $40 million.

Due to the close proximity of the active Hayward Fault, the seismic design of the press box and supporting concrete cores utilized several design innovations to allow for good seismic performance. The cores and press box structure were seismically separated from the surrounding bowl and allowed to move completely independent of the main bowl structure.

To alleviate large bending and shear forces and economize the design, the press box was supported on steel pins at the center of each core. These pins allow the press box to pivot on the cores and minimize damage to the steel structure. Each 7-in. diameter high-strength steel pin is sandwiched by five 100 ksi steel gusset plates. The entire press box structure is supported on 12 of these high-strength pin assemblies.

The top level club space of the press box has a 25-ft cantilever balcony framing off the main press box space truss supporting a walkable glass deck. This balcony structure is also a space truss comprised of numerous small diameter pipe sections. This balcony truss system, which includes seismic and out of plane bracing, has several multi-member joint connections with some joints connecting up to eight pipe members. Due to the complexity of these joints, coordination had to take place in a 3D platform between the fabricators and design team.

Due to the complex nature of the site and surrounding neighborhood, there was limited space on site to allow for erection and construction of the press box. To address this issue, one of the largest crawler cranes in the country (750-ton Liebherr crawler crane with 276-ft boom and 65-ft counterweight extension) was used to erect the main press box truss in five large segments. The main space truss of the press box was assembled and welded on the playing field, adjacent to the seating bowl. Carefully selected splice locations were determined to ensure each of the five truss segments would be within the cranes capacity for weight and reach. Each of the five segments exceeded 75% of the cranes capacity and therefore were considered critical picks. The largest pick of the five truss segments was 165 tons at 160-ft reach, which took the crane to over 95% of its capacity.

The modernization and seismic upgrade of California Memorial Stadium required careful coordination and collaboration between the construction team and design team to bring this state-of-the-art press box to rest elegantly on top of the renovated stadium bowl. The stadium was able to re-open on time for the 2012 football season.

4 Construction Marketing Blogs You Should Be Reading!

blog designWhile professional marketing companies have a lot to offer – namely the relief you’ll experience not having to spend hours of your own time researching, producing and posting website and social media content – they can also cost a pretty penny or two. Small- to medium-sized construction companies may not have those two pennies available in the budget, which means DIY marketing is the only option. That’s where construction-specific marketing blogs can come in handy.

You can learn a tremendous amount of information about SEO, blogging, best social media practices and other digital marketing tips by reading blogs that are put together by marketing professionals. Even better, some of the blogs out there are dedicated specifically to construction marketing tips.

4 Blogs to Enhance Digital Marketing for Your Construction Company

Don’t have time to suss out the good blogs from the bad ones? Never you mind. The folks here at Whirlwind have perused them all (well, most of them anyway), and we feel the following four blogs are worth subscribing to or bookmarking in your browser of choice.

By taking a little time to read about construction marketing online, your in-house staff can keep your website, blogs, eNewsletters and other social media campaigns focused on what works.

  1. Construction Marketing Association. Not surprisingly, the blog for the Construction Marketing Association is chock full of interesting facts, statistics and insights as to how your company’s website content and blogs can reach greater and wider audiences. They also provide a wealth of free downloads and eBooks – all tailored to the methods and practices construction companies should use to develop your buyer persona, increase their brand presence in a new market niche, or to get those coveted inbound links and citations. Interspersed with their marketing blogs, CMA also covers industry-related news and events.
  2. Construction Marketing Ideas. Looking for new ideas to get out of a marketing rut? Want to know what the best construction blogs are doing to draw new visitors to their company’s sites? Check out Construction Marketing Ideas and start reading. The blog got its start back in 2006 and 2007, at the height of the construction slump. It originated as a way to help boost the constructing industry and to provide a resource for struggling companies in the hopes that 21st century marketing practices would help them to stay afloat. Construction Marketing Ideas curates ideas from a variety of different sources and advertisers, in addition to posting content of their own. You can get insight from marketing professionals about a variety of topics. Right now, the focus on the best use of social media because, as one blog mentions, “Social media is the newest construction marketing frontier.”
  3. Construction Business Owner Marketing Blog. Construction Business Owner is just a wonderful website, period. It offers a wealth of free information and resources to owners, including tidbits on equipment, finance, management, personnel and – of course – marketing. The Marketing Section is chock full of blogs providing education and insight into all aspects of construction marketing, from networking and building a loyal clientele to SEO tactics, branding and industry collaboration. You can single-handedly tweak your website, expand your blog topics and learn how to grow your online follower base using smart social media practices by reading and applying what you learn there.
  4. Whirlwind Steel Blog.While we wouldn’t go so far as to call the Whirlwind Blog a “construction marketing blog,” we certainly strive to provide a well-rounded amount of information – a decent percentage of which is dedicated to construction marketing tips. We make it a point to post marketing tips each month, all oriented towards the construction, architecture and engineering industries. We’d love to add you to our subscription list and we hope you’ll enjoy keeping yourself in the Whirlwind loop.

Steel Buildings Buying Tips

You’ve finally decided that you need a new building. Maybe you need a new office building as your business expands. Or maybe you really have to have that indoor riding arena for your horses. Or your company needs to expand with a new manufacturing facility. Maybe you just want a nice outbuilding or barn for storage and other projects.

You’ve heard that steel buildings are a great option. You’ve heard that steel building construction can save you time and money, that metal buildings go up fast, and since they are pre-engineered, there are no surprises. They come in on budget, and are expertly engineered to meet the local building codes so the building permitting process is easy. And you can make all the design decisions yourself. But where to start? It’s not as complicated as you think.

Here a some steel building buying tips that will help the novice metal buildings buyer feel confident as a pro.

Do call your local building department and explain that you would like to build a pre engineered steel building on your lot and give them the location. Ask whether the local building codes allow for pre-engineered steel buildings. If they do, ask what the applicable metal building codes are. Remember to ask about “setbacks” and other code requirements that may prohibit the use of prefab metal buildings or any building for that matter on a given lot.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that building codes are standard. Many times the builder or steel buildings supplier will give code information based on the standards in the metal building industry. However, there are no standard steel building codes that will satisfy building code requirements across the board. A reputable steel building supplier will make sure that the building price they quote incorporates all applicable building codes.

Do check the steel buildings supplier with the Better Business Bureau and the Dunn & Bradstreet report.

Don’t be afraid to talk in depth with your steel building supplier. Describe in detail what you want the building for, whether it is for a horse barn, a church, a warehouse, or manufacturing plant. Make sure the supplier understands exactly what the final use of the building will be. The building use will influence many design decisions and ultimately the final price.

Do know exactly what you want before you order. Decide the dimensions of the building you want to build, the width, length, and height of the building. Where do you want the doors and windows? What color do you want for the walls, roof, and trim? Are there other steel building accessories you would like, such as skylights, cupolas, gutters, and downspouts? Do you need insulation for the building? Don’t assume that doors and windows, gutters and downspouts are included. Many times the framed openings for doors and windows are included, but not the doors and windows themselves, which are additional.

Do consider your options for the roof. Do you want a standing seam roof or the screw down roofing system? A screw down roofing panel is the most commonly used panel for metal buildings roofing, and if properly installed will give you many years of weather tightness.

What about roof pitch? Roof pitch describes the steepness of the roof slope. The standard roof pitch on pre-engineered steel buildings is 1:12. This is the most economical in terms of heating and cooling. Because the structural steel frames are strong enough to support the roof, in most cases a steeper pitch is not required, although you may want a steeper pitch for aesthetic reasons, for example, if you are building a church, or you like the more traditional look of a steeper pitch.

What about color? Many steel buildings have roofs of Galvalume steel, which is a silvery color, and may qualify for Energy Credit under the Federal Tax Code. Some metal building companies have a color option for the roof, which allows you to choose from an array of energy efficient siliconized polyester coating steel buildings colors that will save you even more on energy costs.

Do you like the look of stucco, stone, or brick? If you do, make sure the steel buildings supplier can provide pre-cast panels or other materials that will give the look of wood, stone, or brick to harmonize with pre-existing construction, and to satisfy the local codes, which, in some areas of the country do not allow for standard metal siding.

Do make sure you are comparing identical buildings when comparing pricing. If the price from one steel building supplier seems markedly lower, take a closer look – you may find that what they are offering at the lower price is cutting corners and you will get an inferior building in the end.

And don’t be fooled by the old saying that all metal buildings are the same!

Metal Building: 10 Tips for Finding the Best Supplier

Metal buildings are touted for their low-maintenance and durability. However, these qualities are only as good as the building’s design, product quality, and construction. Any weak links in those arenas can compromise the many benefits which brought your attention to metal buildings in the first place.Pre-engineered metal building

10 Tips for a High-Quality Metal Building

1. Translate the code. The building code, that is. Before you even break ground, make sure you are 100% educated on local building codes. While this is ultimately the general contractor’s responsibility, you will be the one who winds up shelling out the extra money, time, etc. should violations arise during building inspections – or worse, after the construction is complete.
2. Quality engineering. It isn’t 100% true that metal buildings are fantastic – the truth is only fantastic metal buildings are fantastic. Meaning, if the building isn’t engineered and designed by people who know what they are doing, the building’s overall function and design won’t be up to par. Do your research and talk to other metal building owners to find a company who is experienced, reputable, and stands behind their product in terms of customer service.
3. Quality product and craftsmanship. A good segue from Item #2 is the craftsmanship and quality of the products. Metal building technology has come a long way so the more you understand about heat emissive paints, Weather Guard roofing products, etc., the more likely you will be to invest in quality products which increase the lifespan of your building.
4. Cross the “t”s and dot the “i”s. The wonders of pre-engineered metal buildings and efficient assembly are alluring. At the same time, it’s still a construction project, there are budget and time constraints, and there are bound to be glitches along the construction path. Make sure everything is in writing, all signed paperwork has been read thoroughly, and every change along the way is professionally documented.
5. Double-and-triple-check. Once your paperwork is all in order, and you’re in contract with a metal building manufacturer, you will receive a set of “final plans”. Don’t chuck those in the file box and call it done. Go over the plans (the more reviewers the merrier) and make sure everything – doors, lights, electrical fixtures, etc. are exactly what you originally ordered.
6. Inventory-shminventory. Very few people look forward to an inventory, but it’s imperative that you and/or your crew do an immediate and accurate inventory, as soon as you can, once your products/parts are delivered. Contact the manufacturer immediately if anything seems awry.
7. No bad questions. Just like in school, there is no such thing as a bad question. Most likely, you are new at this and a good metal building company will be happy to answer and explain anything – even for the third time this week.
8. Allow room in the budget. Make sure your budget has allowed for 10-15% “mystery expenses”. It’s common for things to come up during construction, and changes or last-minute additions will probably cost money. The more prepared you are, the smoother things will go.
9. Cheap deals! Be wary of unbelievable offers on “overstock” or “cancelled buildings.” Although sometimes there are great deals, make sure the building will meet your needs.
10. Little extras. Don’t forget about the little extras, such as insulation, paint (to protect from weather/rust), gutters, trim, etc. They are vital to the overall function of your new steel building.

5 Maintenance Tips for Getting the Most from Your Steel Buildings

There is no denying that steel buildings are incredibly durable and low maintenance, especially when compared to buildings made with other materials. But even the highest quality metal sheds, garages, workshops, and other custom metal buildings should undergo routine maintenance to stay in tip-top shape. Here are some suggestions for keeping your steel building looking new and performing at its peak for years to come:


Perform routine checks

Check your metal building at least twice a year to assess for any damage caused by harsh weather, an accidental bump from a vehicle, or other causes. Also, check immediately following severe storms for dents, small holes, or other damage that could compromise steel panels.

Keep your building clean

It’s important to routinely clean your steel building (once a year or more often as needed) to prevent fungi or other materials from building up on your structure. To clean your carport, metal barn, workshop, garage, or other custom metal building, simply use a mix of ammonia or a gentle household cleaning product with warm water to remove the grime. You can do this by hand with a soft brush or use a power washer on a low pressure setting. For stubborn mildew, add bleach to your cleaning solution.

Tackle minor repairs immediately

Small holes or scratches might not seem like a big deal, but when exposed to the elements, they can grow into bigger problems. By promptly filling small holes and priming and painting scratched paint, you can stop further damage in its tracks.

Insulate to avoid condensation

If you have major temperature swings in your area, insulation can help keep an even temperature within your prefab metal building. This will minimize the buildup of condensation and help prevent rust caused by moisture.

Manage precipitation

If water is allowed to accumulate around and against your metal garage or other custom steel building, moisture can cause rust or even cause the foundation to shift over time. Adding gutters, downspouts, and overhangs are all great ways to route the water away from the building. If you are still getting standing water, try grading the perimeter to redirect water away from your structure.

If you are in a heavy snowfall area, be sure to choose an A-frame roof style with panels that run vertically to allow precipitation to exit easily. Avoid plowing snow up around the sides of your metal structure as the weight of snow building up on or against your metal garage, workshop, or shed over a long period of time can cause damage the steel panels.

Winter Maintenance Tips for Steel Buildings

Steel buildings present themselves as a sturdy and resilient option for anyone looking to build a commercial space or garage. They require a minimal amount of maintenance in comparison to other building structures and do not experience significant wear and tear in poor weather conditions.

Despite the strength of steel buildings, winter conditions require certain adjustments for all building types. Below is a discussion of steel building maintenance and some tips for keeping them in prime condition during the winter months.

Minimal Maintenance

In comparison to buildings made from other materials, steel buildings require significantly less maintenance. This stems from the fact that steel is a much more durable and resilient material even in the harshest winter weather.

Wooden building frames can warp, rot and chip. This makes wooden buildings prone to significant wear and tear in climates with cold winters or a lot of rain. Wooden buildings require regular maintenance, such as new siding and paint jobs to protect them from the elements.

Brick buildings run a high risk of corrosion when they stand in varying climates or areas of excess moisture. Vegetation buildups and water roof run-off leads to moisture that damages bricks as well as the mortar between them, according to Bobvila. These issues mean that brick buildings need to be power washed, stripped of old paint and repainted in order to maintain their strength.

Aside from removing dirt and sand from the surface, steel buildings do not require significant amounts of maintenance. Keeping gutters clean and watching for debris buildup are minimal amounts of maintenance in comparison to buildings made from the aforementioned materials.

Snow Removal Tips

Snow buildup on the roof of a steel building that is beyond its specified loading criteria can cause distress and damage. Also, the first layer of snow that touches the building tends to melt, leading to excess corrosion and the accumulation of ice. These factors make snow removal an important aspect of winter building maintenance.

One important thing to remember is that the goal of snow removal is not to completely clear the roof. Rather, you want to downsize the weight of the snow so that it returns to a level that the steel roof can support. Attempting to remove every bit of snow would require scraping that would damage the surface of the roof.

You should attempt to remove snow in a pattern that doesn’t leave one area completely cleared while another is piled up. This type of imbalance can put stress on the frame and purlins. Working from the edges of the building and moving inward while having someone else shovel their way from the middle to the edges is your best bet for even snow removal.


Adding insulation is a great investment if you plan to heat your building during the winter. While it may be costly initially, it will save you money down the road.

Traditional fiberglass blankets aren’t the most compatible option when it comes to steel walls. Instead, you should use a combination of fiberglass and reflective insulations, as cited by BuildingsGuide. Interior wall materials can be placed over this insulation easily, and this combination will eliminate condensation and serve as a radiant heat barrier. You can even choose to call a heating installation company if your building is used by people or animals all year round, like a barn or riding arena.

Steel is a low-maintenance material when it comes to building design. If you are someone who has chosen or wants to build a steel structure, consider the aforementioned tips for management during the winter months.

Metal Building Foundation Construction Tips

Level and prep the soil before pouring a metal building foundation.

Level and prep the soil before pouring a metal building foundation.

Constructed from concrete, masonry and steel, building foundations play a critical role in the safety and longevity of the structures they serve. Without a proper foundation, a structure is likely to settle or shift over time, resulting in structural damage or failure. Metal building foundations require special considerations thanks to the difference in weight and design between these buildings and traditional wood- or steel-framed structures.

Match Foundation to Conditions

You may be able to support a simple metal shed on stable soil using a basic slab-on-grade foundation, but larger buildings or more complex soil conditions require more specialized foundations. Tie-rod or hairpin systems serve as simple and effective foundation options when a slab will be used as the floor of the building. Moment-resisting foundations do not rely on a slab; they work well in structures with no slab such as agricultural buildings with dirt floors or those with deep interior pits or trenches. For example, a railroad repair facility with deep pits for workers to access the bottom of rail cars would benefit from this type of foundation. Regions with stable, clay soils could utilize trench foundations, which do not depend on a slab on grade for support. Land with poor soil conditions requires either a mat foundation or one constructed using deep piers or caissons for support.

Consider Cost

A simple slab-on-grade is the cheapest and easiest option for the smallest metal buildings, such as sheds. Tie-rod and hairpin systems are also low-cost options, while trench footing foundations cost more on average, according to Structure Magazine. Moment-resisting foundation systems, mat and deep foundations are the most expensive options when constructing a foundation for a metal building. Of course, the decision on what type of foundation system to use should not be based solely on cost. Selecting a cut-rate foundation that doesn’t meet the requirements of the structure could result in substantial long-term costs associated with repairing or replacing the foundation or the building itself.

Understand Uplift

Thanks to their light weight, metal buildings are subject to a high degree of uplift from the wind. While the foundation for the average structure is designed based on soil-bearing capacity, metal building foundations are often designed primarily to combat uplift. Even if you are familiar with foundation construction, keep in mind that metal building foundations require very different planning and design thanks to the effect of the wind. A metal building foundation can combat uplift through a heavier-than-average foundation, deeper footings or extra topsoil on top of the foundation to serve as ballast.

Know the Code

In many parts of the United States, installing a metal building foundation requires a building permit. Before you begin a project, contact your local permit department to learn about code and permit requirements for metal building foundations in your area. You will likely need to obtain stamped drawings from a licensed structural engineer outlining exactly how the foundation will be constructed and how it will support the building.

Ask the Experts

Designing and constructing a foundation for any type of building is challenging — and failure to construct the right type of foundation can have catastrophic results, including building collapse. Always consult a professional engineer for assistance with designing the right type of foundation for your metal building. A local structural engineer can calculate design loads for your project, taking into account soil conditions in your area. If you are buying a metal building kit or an engineered metal building, the manufacturer or retailer may be able to help you with planning and designing a proper foundation to support the structure.

Possible types of failures in a steel structure

 We, structural engineers design all the members of a building, whether it might be a column, beam, a tie member or a strut anything, but we design it to resist certain forces. We predict a load, calculate forces in different members and design them member to resist a particular load. But sometimes because of some undetermined or unpredicted load the forced in certain members increase to a value which it cannot withstand and the LObmember fails. But what are the different possibilities of failure? How can a member fail? Don’t worry, here is what we are going to talk about. The possible types of failures in steel structures.

Steel is a ductile material and to build a structure using steel is like setting up a huge Jigsaw puzzle. You have 1000 different members and you need to connect them and tada..!! Your structure is up. But it is not as simple as it is visible. Steel being a very strong material  leads to slender members. Now you can imagine the difficulties associated with it. Apart from being slender, each and every joint of the structure should be checked against the force that the joint is going to experience. It becomes risky and less efficient if we design every joint to be similar in a steel structure. So let’s discuss the possible types of failures in the steel structure.

1. Failure of a connection

This is one of the most critical and most frequent failure in the steel structure. We can design any steel member quite beautifully with exact precision, but to design a joint, it becomes tedious. You need to consider the load envelope and then design the joint for the maximum possible force. But generally the connection fails first in case there is an unpredicted force. Any steel member can take the secondary loads because the material is uniform and casted as a single piece, but joint behaves in a brittle fashion and takes some predicted loads but not all of it. Now let us consider a joint of a steel building.

Image credits: Pixar studios
Now, the joint above can fail because of the failure of the number of bolts or the weld length that we decide. Any underestimation in the calculating the values can lead to the failure. I remember one old saying for this kind of failure. “One bolt is no bolt..!!”. I was told by one of my professor that while designing a connection even if the forces are such that one bolt can carry the tensile or compressive loads easily you should place two bolts at that connection. Seems quite different. But give it a thought, it seems logical and wise to use two bolts. The thing is, as a structural designer, your design may be perfect and you just use one bolt for the connection. But the construction is not in your hand, the bold material is not in your hand, accidents are not in your hand. They are random and they all have certain probabilities associated with it and these probabilities add up to increase the probability of the failure of the structure. Suppose you applied just one bolt and who knows that the bolt that is going to be connected in actual life will be weak or will have rust on it? There is a possibility. So it’s always better to apply two bolts in place of a single bolt. But when you require 6 bolts, don’t make it to 7, it will be illogical. Now you know what I am talking about.
In case of weld, all you need to do is check the weld length. But then again, you need to be conservative in providing the weld length because welding is generally conducted on site. The connection is brittle and should be carefully designed.
2. Failure of Beams

Flexural failure occurs when the beam fails in bending. Or you can say then when the lateral loads on the beam increase beyond its limit then this kind of failure takes place. But these are one of the least occurring failure in steel structure and it is because we have a straight-forward formula and we need to see that which section will satisfy the criteria.

But there is one more important failure of beams. Failure due to lateral torsional buckling.

The images above shows how the lateral torsional buckling looks like. Why this happens? The reason is, this kind of failure happens when the compression flange of the beam is not restrained. When we apply load on a beam we assume that the load is applied exactly at the center of the beam, but it is not so in real scenario. The loads are present on the floor and there always in an eccentricity of the load, this eccentricity leads to a twisting moment and because the flange of the beam is not fixed, the beam twists as well as moves laterally. We should not be worried about this failure when there is a concrete deck attached firmly to the beam with the use of shear studs. But in case of a cantilever beam, this condition should always be checked because a 7 or 8 feet cantilever beam generally fails in this condition because the compression flange of the cantilever beam is not braced with the use of anything.
3. Failure in compression

Failure in compression has been discussed in one of the blogs previously. It is much more important because buildings have “Columns”.

4. Failure in Tension

This failure occurs when you stretch a material bit too far. The possibilities of this is very rare if the structure is designed properly. But let me make a point over here. In this kind of failure the member is yielded first, then the necking phase comes into the picture and then it fails at the reduced cross section. This leads to a very high strain energy and it takes a large amount of load to fail the member in tension. But wait there is a mystery over here. There are two more failures in tension that we probably will not think about. One is block shear failure and other is net section rupture. Wait..!! What? Yes, these are the most dangerous failure and happen near connection. A structural engineer need to be cautious while designing a member in tension.

a. Net section rupture.

When we design a tension member we check that the cross section of the area is sufficient or not for a particular force. Let us say that the area is A. Now, near the connection we create a bolt hole and so the area of the member reduces at that particular location as shown in the figure above. Let us consider that the area at the location of the bolt hole be 0.9A. When we check whether this area is sufficient for the applied load and find that the load is exceeding, then the member will fail at the location of the bolt hole and this is called net section rupture.
b. Block shear failure
In this type of failure the complete ose side of the connected member comes out. It is shown by the grey area in the picture above. When we pull the member it generates tension forces near the connection. The bolts will experience shear because of it and a small section of the member material will experience shear. If the stresses are high but not sufficient to fail the member at net section, then it will shear apart the member along with some amount of tension. This type of failure is bit difficult to understand but you can actually do a small experiment. Take a paper and some nails. Attach the paper with the help of nails on a wooden piece. Make sure that you do not connect the nails at the middle of the paper, connect it to either side near the end of the paper. Then pull the paper by slowly increasing the force and you will understand this failure really well.
4. Local failure

Suppose if your member is very strong and it cannot fail at global level like tension or compression or bending or anything. But then if the forces exceeds from a certain limit, then it can lead to some local failure. One of the most common local failure is local buckling of I sections.

When the stresses exceed but not enough to fail the member completely then there occurs a local failure called local buckling of beams. In this failure there are high local stresses developed at imperfect locations of the member. This local members cause the beam to show some unorthodox behaviour and fails in certain region. This causes a reduction in the stiffness of the member but it can still carry load. This kind of failure is a very good failure as it gives an indication that the structure should either be repaired or it should be demolished.
In the next blog we will talk something about designing. How should we design the structural elements.

Lee Hall III – Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.


Building Team
Owner: Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.
Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners, New York
Structural Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago
General Contractor: Holder Construction Company, Atlanta
Steel Fabricator: Steel LLC, Atlanta
Steel Erector: Williams Erection Company, Smyrna, Ga.
Photograph: Scott Frances Photography

Lee Hall III is a 55,000-sf addition to Clemson University’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities in South Carolina. The building houses academic programs in architecture, art and planning, faculty offices and student workspace. Conceived as “a building that teaches,” Lee Hall III encourages informal learning through observation of its energy efficient design and exposed functional and structural systems. Lee Hall III has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Nearly all of structural steel components in Lee Hall III are the direct manifestation of the architectural expression. This building is an open double-height space, 35 feet tall, housing a secondary internal structure of mezzanines and bridges. The structures roof is comprised of a light-weight composite concrete deck structure supported by exposed W14 steel beams. The roof rises four feet in a gentle arc to drain a planted green roof, which is punctuated by 25, 7-ft diameter skylights directly above “column trees.”

The “column trees” consciously draw attention to the structural steel; they are comprised of 10.75-in. diameter seamless steel pipes with 1-in. thick walls and 4 curving “arms” built out of flat 1.25-in. and 1-in. thick steel plate. The unusually thick-walled pipe columns (ASTM A106 pipe typically used in oil and gas-line construction) allow remarkably slender columns and enhance their dramatic elegance. The four curving “arms” at the top of each column tree support lines of continuous W14 steel beams and allow the roof directly above each column to open into a skylight.

The north and south facades of Lee Hall III are comprised of a custom insulated low-iron glazing which spans floor to roof. By directly supporting the glazing on structural steel members (in lieu of conventional aluminum extrusions), the designers developed window walls of exceptional slenderness with minimal and elegant detailing that is consistent with the aesthetic look of the primary structural steel frame.

The lateral systems for Lee Hall III, consist of exposed “X” braced pre-tension cables on the north and south facades and back-to-back WT ordinary brace frames in the east and west walls. Beyond the window walls on the north and south faces of the building, a row of super-slender “Y” column supports a steel trellis of exterior exposed W6 steel beams and perforated metal panels. Each “Y” column is fabricated from 4.5-in. diameter hollow structural section (HSS) steel tubes and is up to 35 feet tall.

Nearly all of the structural steel in Lee Hall III, functions as both a load-carrying functional system and a sculpturally expressive medium. But perhaps what is arguably most remarkable about its use of structural steel is that the highly and expressive character was achieved without any expensive or unconventional fabrication techniques, special finishes, exotic connections, nor the higher tolerance “AESS” designation typical of this type of construction.

Instead, the team worked closely to refine conventional simple connections and fabrication techniques that could be built by any steel fabricator without undo expense. All connections were fully detailed in the structural drawings so the alignment, appearance and architectural character could be evaluated and refined prior to the shop-drawing phase, thereby eliminating the fabricators connection engineering time and costs. Although the structure features a curving, warped roof, no curved steel was used in the building’s frame — the geometry is a series of simple faceted arcs which nearly matches a true curve. Variation in arc radii requires the metal deck to warp slightly as it spans. The structural drawings clearly and simply convey the geometry in two-dimensional plans, elevations and details without the need for three dimensional modeling or the use of digital files.

Further cost-reduction was achieved by responding to the fabricators concerns regarding the blanket designation of “Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel” (AESS). Rather than simply applying this requirement to all of the exposed steel, the architects and the engineer identified only those aspects of AESS that were critical to the project’s success, and defined exposed painted structural steel requirements specific to the job. Remarkably, all the architectural steel in Lee Hall III was fabricated and detailed no differently than conventional structural steel.

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.


Building Team
Owner/Developer: Forest City Ratner Companies, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Architect: AECOM, Kansas City, Mo.
Architect: SHoP Architects, New York, N.Y.
Structural Engineer: Thornton Tomasetti, New York
General Contractor: Hunt-Bovis joint venture, Indianapolis
Steel Fabricator: Banker Steel Company, Lynchburg, Va.
Steel Detailer: WSP Mountain Enterprises, Inc., Sharpsburg, Md.
Photographer: Bess Adler

The Barclays Center arena is the 675,000-sf home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. The design-build project features 18,103 seats, an 85-foot open canopy that spans the entrance, and an ice floor for hockey and other events. The arena will host more than 200 sporting and cultural events annually with seating capacity increases to 19,000 for concerts and family shows. It features 95 luxury suites, four party suites, two conference suites, four bars/lounges, four clubs, a restaurant and several street-level retail stores. The project was designed to achieve LEED Silver certification.

The iconic feature of the of the arena is the weathered Cor-ten steel lattice that wraps around the structure. Rows of steel panels envelop the exterior including an entrance canopy that cantilevers 85 feet over the plaza. The facade design with 12,000 pre-weathered steel panels and the canopy were added a month after the GMP package was released and two months before the first steel mill order was due. This required the team to incorporate the developing facade design while keeping pace with the original schedule. Nearly 1,000 tons of steel was added to support the facade, which also became a prominent design feature.

The distinctive arched roof spans more than 380 ft and is supported by a pair of 350-ft tied arch trusses spanning the long direction of the arena. The roof system geometry is complex, further complicated by the additional loads imposed by the outer facade system. The building lateral system and diaphragms were designed to resist thrust forces from the roof arches, which were minimized by use of the tension tie.

The arena’s location in a tight urban setting near a subway station and train terminal presented a multitude of challenges for the foundation system. To facilitate truck turnaround, a pair of truck elevators were designed to feed a below-grade loading dock with a large truck turntable. Building columns in this area were transferred using large plate girders spanning over the dock.

The project’s structural engineer provide structural models, connection samples, and full connection design, which allowed the team to produce models quickly, store large quantities of information and coordinate with the entire team. From its initial design, the project constantly pushed the limits of building information modeling (BIM). The complex geometry of the fac?ade and the shortened schedule meant that the team needed to coordinate in a 3D environment and provide the information to the contractor in this format as well.

The schedule was adjusted frequently and changed even from hour to hour at the peak of construction. The design team consisted of staff members across multiple offices and practice areas. Managing the team’s efforts on such a large, fast moving project made coordination critical to the project’s success. Teams in Kansas City and New York designed the roof and bowl after which the two components were integrated. Construction support services teams worked on the structural models, model delivery and connection design. Erection engineering was performed in Chicago. Achieving integration of these services in a way that is seamless to the client required extensive communication, intense collaboration and careful management.

Design staff was maintained on site full-time to accommodate changes and oversee work. Weekly coordination meetings helped identify issues early on and develop solutions proactively.

How to Select a Recreational Steel Building

Obtaining a steel building requires both information and dedication, and there are plenty of high-quality steel and metal buildings available. Individuals seeking high-grade steel structures should access affordable and trusted companies, and they should understand the necessary qualities of each selection.

High Quality Materials and Adaptability

When selecting a steel building, future owners should be sure of their selection’s virtual and desired dimensions. Achieving optimal building requirements is easy, but information pertaining to climate should be taken into consideration. Buildings with open trusses are ideal for areas susceptible to high winds and snow, and a quality steel roof contains a modular rigid frame, tapered beams, an open web truss and a clear-span rigid frame. Usually, these options are available to accommodate for both long and standard bay options, and individuals normally have the opportunity to mix and match options.

Buildings for homes, farms and businesses may be purchased directly from suppliers to reduce overhead costs associated with middle-suppliers, and comparing prices will ensure a great purchase. Many steel buildings are available with ease-of-use assembly options, and each is normally accompanied by a set of instructions.

High-Quality Steel

Sometimes, utilizing recycled trusses and steel are great for creating new trusses at lower costs, so be sure to ask about the opportunity. These trusses are often made of jig tables, and each is inspected before being applied with a rust inhibitor and primer. Other steel structures may use premium metal sheets capable of providing life-long durability, and accessing a combination of both new and recycled materials is great for budget accommodations.


As stated above, many suppliers offer pre-engineered buildings. These selections may be assembled easily, and their modular assembly removes the need for heavy equipment. Full foundations aren’t needed either, nor are welding materials. Simple instructions are often available for ease-of-assembly, and many sides are attachable with bolts and screws.

Selecting a Versatile Building

Each steel structure may be adapted to fulfill various needs, and individuals should be sure of their intentions before any purchases are made. Some buildings allow for second floor installment, and some offer space for loft storage by offering bar-joist systems. While most of these selections are composed almost entirely of steel, wood secondary framing may be preferred. This framing option creates economical and accessible buildings, and they accommodate for future alterations.


Finally, each steel structure should follow a specific design, and each should heed the requirements of loads and codes supplied by installment locations. Many designs protect the steel structure’s integrity from heavy snows and high winds, so design should be taken into consideration when selecting a building.

A selection should deliver long-lasting utility and be packaged at an affordable price. Each design should meet a user’s needs, and each structure should provide environmental and economic solutions for each individual. Remember, a steel building is useful for industrial, residential, commercial and agricultural applications, and many suppliers work with consultants, engineers and architects to provide quality products. Select a high-performance building at a low cost, and be sure to obtain the best-possible values available.

3 Construction Marketing Mistakes You Should Avoid!

Home builder and construction marketing is as complicated and layered in the virtual world as building projects are in the real world. There is layer upon layer of due diligence that must be performed before, during and after online and social media content is created and posted. Best practices must be adhered to  in order to benefit from continual returns on your initial investment, and your company’s reputation and brand are largely dependent on the finished product.

steel building marketing mistakes

Similarly, any mistakes you make in your marketing efforts can have negative ramifications for quite some time. Just as with a mistake during a construction build-out, there are certain marketing snafus that can lead to additional costs, negative brand exposure and a decrease in business. Who wants that?

Do Your Company a Favor: Avoid These 3 Common Construction Marketing Mistakes

While none of these mistakes are intentional, all are very common in small to medium sized construction  companies that simply “don’t have the time.” This is understandable, most business owners are run ragged trying to keep up on day-to-day operations, so construction marketing typically falls to the bottom of the To-Do-Lists. Unfortunately, in this hyper-connected and mobile world, online marketing is essential to growing your business and keeping it sustainable from year to year.

If you don’t have the time to address the following construction marketing mistakes, we highly recommend you invest in a reputable digital marketing firm, preferably one who is experienced in construction marketing. Now, onto the mistakes you want to avoid (or correct) to keep your business – – in business.

1) Having an Unrealistic Budget

Effective marketing is expensive, unless you have a well-rounded online marketing guru on staff. Do you think advertisers spend upwards of $4.5 million dollars for a 30-second Super Bowl halftime commercial because they feel like it? Heck, no. Marketing is typically one of the largest business expenses companies pay out. Successful small companies spend somewhere between $500 and $2,500 or more per month on digital marketing alone, companies with 50 or more employees spend closer to $5000+ for the same services. However, that expense often pays for itself and then some if you gain just one or two clients as a result. Of course, a killer marketing strategy will net much more than that.

2) Not Knowing Who Your Target Market Is

This is a simple way to cover a rather broad range of marketing subjects that include things like buyer personas and specific pain points. The reality is that while you think you are building homes or commercial for “people who want them,” the odds are that the majority of your clients – former, current and future – fall into specific categories. If you haven’t taken the time to figure out your customer demographics, there’s a good chance you are marketing to the wrong people, or not enough of the right people. When this happens, people bounce from your website and/or blog and find websites or blogs that have content better tailored to their needs.

A good way to test whether or not this is a mistake you’re making is to examine a few metrics.

  • What Are Your Bounce Rates? Examine how many people land on your site and then bounce off without clicking through to other pages. Optimal rates are below 50%. Anything higher than that indicates a disconnect between the terms/phrases people use to find you and the content they find on your site.
  • What Percentage of Your Site Visits Convert to Leads? And what percentage of those leads convert to sales? Again, if the results aren’t as high as you would have hoped for, your marketing team may need to start over and create detailed buyer personas so they can craft content that meets those buyers’ needs.
  • Does Your Content Consistent, Using Language Target Audiences Understand? Comb through your online content objectively mindset, asking yourself if the content is consistent in its tone, if it promotes your brand identity and if non-industry folks (aka: customers and potential customers) can easily understand what’s there. This simple study may send your writers back to the drawing board.

3) Not Paying Attention to the Numbers

Remember we said that due diligence is required before, during and after you post content? Examples of this include keeping track of your metrics and using A/B Testing to see what works and what doesn’t with your clients. Metrics the cold, hard numbers that tell you everything you need to know about your website and social media performance. A/B testing gives you insight into what subjects, titles, graphics, etc. work best to generate engagement, action and leads.

4 Tips to Make Your Construction Brand Stand Out from the Crowd

One of the secrets to any business’s success is for its brand, products and services to stand out from the crowd. This is no easy feat and can require quite a bit of ingenuity on the part of a marketing team or sales staff to come up with the logo, graphics, messages, and services that get to the heart of your target market’s needs.

construction brand

Construction companies are no exception and, while smaller companies may not have in-house marketing teams, there are ways to ensure your construction company (aka your “Brand”) stands out from the competitors.

5 Ways for Your Brand to Stand Out From the Competition

  1. What the heck IS your brand? Do you even know what your brand is, what it represents or the energy/feelings/adjectives you want others to have or think of when your company’s name is mentioned? Everyone wants to be reliable, trusted and professional – go outside that standard construction box and start honing in on the qualities that make your company different from others. If you don’t really know what your brand is, take a moment to read 5 Tips to Branding Your Construction Company.

    In the meantime, is there a special type of service you offer? Do you notice a few client niches that have developed along the way? These are all good places to start, detailing and expanding your view of the company’s brand. Then, have a meeting with staff and update your employee handbooks so this unique brand, image and essence become a sort of marinade – infused into your current and future employee hires. It should be a unified concept that your people, their actions, your marketing materials, your customer service interactions, etc., continually promote and exude to the general public.

  2. Use consistent branding via your website, logo and promotional materials. Years ago, there was a pretty crazy modern art installation. It was a huge glass tank, filled with crumpled, compressed, and seemingly unrecognizable pieces of trash. However, it was very easy to look inside the tank noticing, “That’s a Wheaties box! And that’s a piece of a Pepsi Can. Hey! That small corner is part of a Doritos bag!” These mainstream, corporate brands have done such a thorough job of using the same colors, logos, graphics and imagine – their brands are recognizable even when the audience sees a mere snippet of packaging.

    This is the same kind of thoroughness and continuity you should create via company colors, graphics, logos, website design, vehicle signage – aka your company’s “packaging” – so customers easily recognize you. Does your website continue the same colors, text styles, fonts, shapes and proportion as your logo? Do your company vehicles have bold, noticeable signage that continues those visual themes? How about business cards, print materials, surveys, coupons, etc.? All of these should have continuous and adaptable visual effects so customers can more easily distinguish your visual brand from others.

  3. Change your logo. You may find it’s time to change your logo, especially if your construction company was founded 15 or more years ago, when digital marketing and social media were less important in the big picture. If your logo doesn’t exemplify who you are or doesn’t work well across the marketing spectrum, start from scratch and use a trusted marketing professional to design a new one. Ideally, elements of your former logo would be included, but this might not be possible.

    A good construction company logo will give a viewer the idea that you build things, and perhaps even which types of things, without ever including the name, “construction” in the graphic. While it make take a bit of getting used to, a new logo, related graphics and a fresh, overall look will help you brand yourself  – and promote that new brand –  much quicker and more swiftly than sticking with one that hasn’t worked thus far.

  4. Re-Evaluate your marketing budget. If you said, “What marketing budget,” this tip should be placed top of your list. Experts recommend budgeting up to 10% of your company’s revenue on marketing. This figure will be slightly lower for smaller construction companies. The point, however, is that your company should be prepared to spend money to make money.

    Branding is a process, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If marketing is a foreign concept to you, it is probably worthwhile to hire a professional company – at least for the first year – to get the ball rolling.

  5. Leverage social media accounts. The more you leverage social media accounts, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, the more you will be able to connect with your customers – both past, present and future. This is key to brand development and consistency. Social media accounts are essential for modern day branding success.

Fire-proofing Your Metal School: An Essential Step

Few events are worse than that of a fire in a school full of children. Nobody sets out to build a school that will suffer devastating damage and loss of life but misunderstandings about standards, proper fireproofing, and how steel structures behave in high thermal situations can lead to painfully learned lessons.

fire proofing a metal school

Just because a school is made of metal does not make it fireproof. Fireproofing materials are needed to insulate steel beams and assemblies from metal-deforming high heat and conserve its design load capacity long enough to save both people and building.

The Impact of Heat on Steel

Metal is non-combustible which is different from being fireproof. Beams and other metal members that are perfectly sound at ambient temperature can be deformed, bowed, or bent due to the effect of heat. In fact, metal loses around 50% of its load carrying capacity when the temperature nears 1100˚F.

Metal members must be protected from heat with materials designed to insulate them from high temperatures for a specific period of time as defined by local building standards. Different parts of a building can have different fire ratings. It all depends on the use of the building, whether or not people are present, and the open space within the structure.

Another reason for these insulating properties is to keep metal from becoming heated enough to allow fire to spread or to ignite flammable materials which can occur at temperatures of only 250˚F.

Testing Standards

UL263/ASTM E119 is the regulatory document that covers fire testing and ratings. Fire ratings are given in hours and can be applied to beams, assemblies, and fire-proofing material. An important distinction between beam ratings and assembly ratings is that assembly ratings will include the performance of the roof or floor in its entirety. Beams are rated as individual members.

Unfortunately, the ASTM test is performed in the equivalent of a 14ft X 17ft room, not really representative of the typical open area in a metal school. It may not properly assess the impact of a modern day fire. (ASTM E119 was written in 1918 and only modestly updated over the years.)

The biggest misunderstanding comes into play about the definition of a fully restrained assembly versus an unrestrained assembly. In a fully thermally restrained assembly it is expected that the design load capacity will be met even when beams are distorted by heat. This is what Underwriters Laboratory (UL) defines as fully restrained. Anything else is unrestrained, even if the engineer or architect indicates most or all of a school’s assemblies appear restrained at least somewhat.

An unrestrained assembly is not expected to hold up under similar heat situations and can lead to collapse. For highest safety, treating all beams and assemblies as unrestrained will ensure that any structure will be adequately protected. The added cost is negligible.

Fireproofing Materials

Metal can be insulated against high heat in several ways.

Intumescent Paint

Structural members and panels can be finished in intumescent paint which expands to multiple times its volume and thickness when heated above 300˚F. There are two kinds of paint, one that provides a soft char which is appropriate for the interior, and one that provides a hard char and is only appropriate for exteriors.

When expanded by chemical reaction to heat, the paint becomes a stiff foam with empty cells that insulate the metal. Soft char paint will also release water vapor as the hydrates within it are spent. This causes a cooling effect that can also help slow the spread of fire.

Hard char producing paint creates a thicker, harder foam shell with a quantifiable expansion pressure. It will stand up to a fiercer fire such as that of burning hydrocarbons.

If you need or desire your fireproofing materials to be invisible until needed, intumescent paint may fit the bill.


Spray-Applied Fire Resistive Material (SFRM) protection systems are one of the most cost effective methods of fireproofing. You may have heard them called fiber sprays and they adhere and expand to cover unpainted, unprimed metal.

One big advantage is that fiber spray will easily cover detailed assemblies. But it can be difficult to get a uniform thickness and, to be honest, this stuff is not very attractive. You will probably want to limit its use to areas that are not in view.

Boards and Wool

For visible areas that require fire protection you can use manufactured board materials cut to size and installed around steel sections. Certainly this can be used in areas out of view as well. Besides being more esthetically pleasing, boards can be manufactured to specific uniform thicknesses unlike spray foam. Mineral wool can be used as a fire-resistant thermal insulation in both interior and exterior walls.


A majority of schools will never suffer a fire. But when one starts, you want to give those kids the best chance to escape along with their teachers and the rest of the staff. Fireproofing can give them that chance by staving off the effects of the heat on the structure for a predictable period of time.

Maintaining Moisture Control in Metal Panels

Water damage is one of the most common problems with any structure. And it’s sneaky; it takes time before you can see the problem. However, you have the advantage of living in the 21st century where we have figured out a few ways to keep moisture under control.

moisture control in metal

Moisture has several sources. It comes from human or animal respiration and perspiration; combustion from gas, oil, and propane space heaters; excavated earth; and freshly poured concrete. High humidity can always be found in certain types of buildings such as those built for indoor swimming pools, ice rinks, waste processing, wineries, and highway maintenance garages.

Forms of Moisture Control

Vapor Retarders

Vapor retarders keep moisture from touching insulation or other surfaces they cover. Their effectiveness is measured in perms, or water transmission rates. The lower the perm value the better it retards vapor. Anything over 1.0 can’t be considered a vapor retarder. Buildings that will routinely experience humidity over 50% require perm ratings of less than 0.05.


If you can keep air moving and mix dry air with the moist you can bring down the overall moisture content and keep water from accumulating on surfaces. Typically this is done by bringing cooler, drier air from outside through the heated building where the warmer air tends to retain moisture.


Wrapping cold water pipes or cold air ducts in insulation keeps the cooler temperature from contacting the surrounding warmer air. This is a two-fer: cold water stays colder on the way to the tap and the utility bill is reduced because the air isn’t warmed as much on the way to the AC vent.

Types of Vapor Retarders

Structural Membranes

These are rigid steel sheets or other impermeable materials and metals. With the edges and ends sealed water will not be able to reach the area behind or surrounded by the membrane.

These types of membranes include:

  • Vinyl siding added to structural substrate or sheeting
  • Concrete panels tilted up, sealed, and painted on the exterior
  • Metalized plastic laid over rigid board
  • Foam insulated panels caulked and sealed
  • Bituminous spay or trowel-on coatings on concrete or masonry

Flexible Membranes

Most of these have perm ratings of 1.0 or less. It includes plain white vinyl which is not as effective as other membranes.

  • Foil coated building paper
  • Plastic films laminated to blanket insulation

Laminated insulation can improve the appearance of the wall but it can also keep fiberglass batt from sagging, provide impact resistance, and have reflective or emissive benefits. Laminated batts are formed from a base of natural or white colored Kraft paper or aluminum foil, fiberglass scrim netting, and an external film of polypropylene, vinyl, foil, or metalized polyester.

There are also laminated batts hardened for more punishment such as those for sports facilities, treated for high UV applications, and black colored for buildings with no ceilings.

Coating Membranes

These are paints, trowel-on bituminous coatings, epoxies, and urethane films.

Installation of Vapor Retarders

Any tear, hole, or other open damage to a vapor retarder renders it ineffective. You and your installers must take care when fastening the retarder and sealing it, especially at the side and lap seams. Commonly retarders are sealed by:

  • Rolling and stapling the side laps
  • Using laps with self-sticking sides with peel off paper
  • Insulation tape (although this is not recommended due to the environment on the job site)

Any punctures or tears must be repaired using the self-adhesive repair material generally packed with the retarder by the supplier. The retardant side faces away from the protected insulation or metal member. If you are adding insulation do not leave a vapor barrier within the mass of insulation as this can create conditions for wet insulation.


This is becoming the responsibility of the contractor since ventilation systems are part of the structure itself. Ventilation requirements are calculated as air changes per hour. This is the total volume of the structure (length X width X height) in cubic feet times the number of desired air changes divided by 60 minutes.


You have a 750,000 cubic foot building and you want 5 air changes per hour.

(750,000 X 5) /60 = 62,500 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air must be moved to provide 5 air changes per hour.

Obviously there must be a way for air to both enter and exit the structure and the air flow must be evenly distributed. This can be done through the use of exhaust and air supply fans, ridge ventilators, and louvers. (Note: screening the louvers helps keep out bugs and rain.)

Summing It Up

Moisture from condensation and other sources can corrode metal members and damage metal structures. With the proper planning, vapor retarders and ventilation can be used to control the moisture within the structure and keep the panels free of damaging water. Vapor retarders only work when properly sealed and undamaged. Ventilation helps keep the air from going stale as well as controlling moisture within the structure.

Maintaining Steel Buildings During Winter

Steel buildings are commonly associated with a resilient and sturdy alternative to other garage and personal space materials. They require a small amount of maintenance, and they experience minimal degradation compared to other building structures in bad weather conditions.

Regardless of a steel building’s strength, each weather condition should be accommodated for with specific adjustments. The tips and tricks below are offered for individuals seeking to maintain building conditions during each season, particularly winter.

Small-time Maintenance

Compared to buildings composed of other materials, buildings made from steel require less maintenance. Steel is considerably more durable than other metals, and it’s resilient within cold weather.

Wooden frames may rot, warp or chip during similar conditions, and this renders wooden buildings weak within wear-and-tear climates containing rain and cold winds. Additionally, wooden buildings require a high amount of maintenance to maintain durability against the elements. Often, new paint jobs and sidings installments are needed.

Brick buildings, too, are at risk of corrosion within volatile conditions, and areas containing excess moisture may degrade a brick building. Water roof run-off and vegetation growth increase moisture, and this damages both the mortar between bricks and bricks themselves. Brick buildings must be power washed and stripped of old paint. They must then be repainted to maintain optimal strength.

Buildings composed of steel require the removal of dirt and sand, but are otherwise easily maintained. Gutters should be cleaned, and debris buildup should be removed. However, the above-mentioned maintenance routines needn’t be engaged when applying maintenance to a steel structure, as they aren’t needed.

Snow Removal

Snow builds up on building rooftops, and a steel roof packed above its specified weight allowance might buckle beneath damage and distress. Remember, initial snow layers often melt upon touching a rooftop, and excess corrosion may result due to ice accumulation. Ice removal is important to maintaining a building and winter, and snow must be removed often.

Snow shouldn’t be completely removed from a roof. Rather, its weight should be downsized to a level supportable by the steel roof. Removing every bit of snow is laborious, and it may damage a rooftop’s surface.

Snow should be removed carefully, and following a pattern ensures maximum coverage of an area. This ensures a clear area, and it removes possibilities of ice buildup upon previously-cleared areas. Failing to follow a pattern may imbalance snow’s weight upon a steel roof, and it will lead to increased stress upon purlins and framework. Work from a rooftop’s edges, and move inward while a partner shovels outward from the roof’s center. This ensures a quality and uniform removal.

Utilize Insulation

Insulation is an excellent addition to many steel structures. It provides heat to buildings during winter, and it keeps a building conditioned during summer. While insulation is costly, it will save building owners money over the long run.

Remember: Steel is considered a low-maintenance material. It’s perfect for building design, and the tips mentioned above will keep a steel building safe during winter months. Proper dress-wear and precautions should always be taken when maintaining any steel structure, and working together will always reduce work times.

Top Tips for Maintaining Your Metal Buildling

No doubt about it, metal buildings are the most durable structures you can own. They require minimal maintenance and can last for decades. But metal buildings still have vulnerabilities, most notably to moisture. Maintaining your metal building can also mean ensuring the contents are safe from the environment. Finally, a building may only be as strong as its anchor to the foundation, while roofs need special consideration regarding load conditions.

maintaining steel buildings

Below are some tips to help you keep your metal building or home in tip-top shape for the lifetime of the structure.


Metal sheeting itself is generally coated by the manufacturer to mitigate surface rust. However, the building will be vulnerable where there is an interruption in the sheeting. Windows, doors, ventilation shafts, the foundation, and the roof are all potential areas for moisture to infiltrate and damage the building or its contents.

The addition of accessories designed to direct water away from these areas provides added protection against the elements. They include:

  • Gutters
  • Downspouts
  • Overhangs

These all work to direct rainwater away from the walls and foundation of a building.

Manufacturers usually coat sheet metal in Galvalume for added protection during shipping and construction. For additional protection, painted panels are an option.


Insulation does double duty; it can keep the heat out and it can keep the heat in. Do your research to determine the type of insulation that best suits your needs and consult with the construction professionals responsible for erecting your building.

If heavy rainfall is typical, make sure the insulation comes with a vapor lock. In hot regions radiant diversion is a high priority. In all cases, check the warranty period of the insulation you install; it will differ according the material the insulation is made of.


A metal building is strong but still has its limits. In snow country roof pitch is extremely important. Wet snow is heavy and can collapse a flat or minimal pitch roof. These roofs can also collect ice that can then fall during a melt and cause damage or injury. The new Dallas Cowboys football stadium is an excellent example of the problems ice can cause; a stage hand was injured when sheets of ice fell from the roof of the stadium and fractured his skull.

Make sure the roof pitch is steep enough to keep snow, ice, and water from accumulating.

This takes care of the top of your building; now consider the bottom. No matter how strong a building is if the foundation anchors are not stable the entire building is in jeopardy. During the construction of the foundation make absolutely certain the anchors are installed correctly and according to the foundation engineering plan before proceeding with building erection.

Windows and doors should be secured for the weather also. Aim doors and windows away from prevailing winds if at all possible. Splurge for heavy, insulated glass or polycarbonate in regions of extreme heat, wind, and rain. And use weather stripping to keep moisture out.

Metal buildings are cost effective and less expensive to construct than wood. But you still want to protect your investment. Providing for the comfort of those living or working in the building and keeping the contents safe means taking these extra steps to maintain the building so it will last for years to come.

Killer Tips For Choosing Your Metal Building Supplier

A good metal building supplier is an invaluable resource for your construction project. Unless you are a metal building expert yourself, you need someone on your construction team to assist you in making decisions related to the metal building system.

This article will 1) identify some of the most basic suppliers of metal buildings in the market today and 2) provide you some questions to help screen prospective suppliers regarding their experience with, and knowledge of, metal buildings.

Purchasing a metal building is not like purchasing an automobile. A loaded Ford F150 pickup is the same vehicle regardless of the name of the car dealer selling it. Your challenge as a buyer is simple – get the very best price you can.

The challenge is not as simple when buying a metal building system. A 5,000 square foot building manufactured by two different manufacturers can have a long list of differences. The reason for the differences is that a metal building system is a custom manufactured product. Each manufacturer has its own set of standards regarding sales practices,engineering & detailing standards, material specifications, etc. Plenty of options is a good thing as long as you know the right questions to ask.

That brings us back to the importance of selecting the right metal building supplier for your project. So what are your options? In order to keep this article concise, I will limit the discussion to three basic types of suppliers – the manufacturer, contractor and broker.

Manufacturer– The metal building manufacturer is the entity that actually manufacturers the metal building system. Starting with your building size, building code, design loads and accessories, the manufacturer performs the structural engineering of the building, creates the different types of drawings required for the project, fabricates the buildings, and delivers the building to your job site.

Contractor– The Contractor purchases the metal building system from the Manufacturer and re-sells the building to you. The Contractor will also be responsible for the on-site construction of the metal building.

Broker– The Broker neither manufactures the metal building nor constructs it at the job site. The Broker simply purchases the building from the Manufacturer and re-sells it to you. The Broker is a classic middle-man.

Any of these options may be a legitimate source for your metal building system. Regardless of the supplier you choose, there are some common questions you should ask before you choose your supplier.

  • 1 – Is the metal building manufacturer AC472 accredited? This question directly addresses the quality of the manufacturer. AC472 accreditation is a comprehensive, third-party accreditation program for the inspection of metal building manufacturers. It is based on the requirements of Chapter 17 of the International Building Code® and provides code officials with a means to approve the inspection programs of manufacturers involved in the fabrication of metal building systems. An AC472 accredited company has been placed through a rigorous examination to confirm that it has the personnel, organization, experience, procedures, knowledge, equipment, capability and commitment to produce work of the required quality. Purchasing your metal building from a manufacturer that is AC472 accredited is a positive step towards improving your chances of getting a building that meets your requirements. For peace of mind, you can independently verify an accredited manufacturer.
  • 2 – Is the metal building manufacturer a member of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA)? The MBMA is the trade association of the metal building manufacturing industry and has been instrumental in defining and promoting the common interests of metal building manufacturers in the United States. There are more than forty metal building manufacturers that are members of the MBMA. So there are plenty of companies from which to choose. MBMA members are actively involved in the development of their industry and the improvement of their product and service. Isn’t that the type of company you want to purchase from?
  • 3 – What is the name of the manufacturer you are purchasing the metal building from and where is the manufacturer located? This question is directed towards the Contractor and Broker. Your metal building system may well be the single most expensive part of your construction project. There is no valid reason for the Contractor or Broker to with hold the identity of the building manufacturer. You need to know the name of the manufacturer to verify that the manufacturer is AC472 accredited and that it is a MBMA member. Knowing the location of the manufacturer is pertinent for freight reasons. If you have two manufacturers that are equal in every way except one is located across town and the other is several states away, the best choice is the one across town. Any last minute changes to your project will ship more quickly and at less expense the closer the manufacturer is to your job site.
  • 4 – How often do you work on projects that involve a metal building system? This question is mainly for the Contractor since the Manufacturer and Broker always deal with metal building systems. The point here is that if you are purchasing the metal building from the Contractor you are assuming that he will be the metal building expert on your construction project. The contractor may know everything about pouring a concrete foundation, installing stud walls, or installing the HVAC system. But you want to be sure that the Contractor has the necessary experience and knowledge to successfully guide you through the purchase of the metal building too.

Presidential Award of Excellence in Engineering

Chelsea Piers Connecticut, Stamford, Conn.

Building Team
Owner: Chelsea Piers, New York
Architect: James G. Rogers Architects, South Norwalk, Conn.
Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk, New York
General Contractor: AP Construction, Stamford, Conn.
Photo: Chelsea Piers

Chelsea Piers Connecticut is a 400,000-sq-ft adaptive reuse sports complex in Stamford, Conn., opened to the public in the summer of 2012. Chelsea Piers Connecticut (CPCT) features two NHL regulation ice rinks, enormous turf fields, a 20,000-sf gymnastics center, an aquatics center with an Olympic-size pool, tennis courts, squash courts, a trampoline center, a baseball/softball training area, and ancillary facilities.

The building housing the sports facility is a 45-year-old manufacturing plant previously used by Clairol as the facility for manufacturing Herbal Essence shampoo. The adaptive reuse saved the old building from being demolished.

Although the building square footage met the Chelsea Piers requirements, the lack of large column free spaces created a potential roadblock. Professional quality sports facilities such as swimming pools, hockey rinks, tennis courts require large column-free areas in excess of 100 feet wide. This criterion required the removal of 23 columns from the building in order to achieve the column-free zones.

Achieving this economically was the principal challenge; a method to remove the existing columns while leaving the entire roof structure in place had to be developed. 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.

The structural system devised was based upon the use of king post trusses constructed out of the in-place existing roof structure. By leaving the existing beams, which formed the top compression chords of the truss, in place and using a portion of the existing columns as the king posts, only a relatively small amount of steel had to be added to form the tension cords of the truss. Upgrading of the in-place top chord members was accomplished via composite action with the new concrete slab poured on the existing in-place metal roof deck. Steel angle members were used for the tension chords of the trusses. Although the simple and basic “off the shelf” structural members remain exposed, their aesthetically pleasing form is quite apparent. The positive effect of the forms on the facility’s architecture further testifies to the economic and sustainable accomplishments achievable from innovative engineering in which “form follows function.”

The design met all the criteria with the exception of being able to achieve a flat floor after the concrete was poured. Because the existing roof, which was supported by the new king post trusses, was slated to become additional space for the new sport facilities, a requirement existed for a very flat floor structure. The solution involved the cambering of the trusses prior to pouring the concrete slab. This was accomplished by jacking of the existing roof structure prior to the installation of the new truss members.

After the installation of the truss steel, the existing columns were cut out and removed. Upon pouring the new roof concrete, the trusses deflected precisely as designed, leaving a flat surface for the tennis courts and soccer area.

Chelsea Piers Connecticut represents an excellent example of innovative sustainable engineering for building reuse and development. An innovative design team coupled with a supportive and motivated owner, allowed this project to move forward. The result is a state-of-the-art facility serving the athletic needs of the community while forming a viable anchor business in a once abandoned industrial facility.

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


Building Team
Owner: West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation, West Hollywood, Calif.
Architect: Tighe Architecture, Santa Monica, Calif.
Structural Engineer: Gilsanz Murray Steficek, New York
General Contractor: Parker/Sarg Industries, Pasadena, Calif.
Consultant: Castle and Gray Intl. Inc., Malibu, Calif.
Photo: Art Gray

Sierra Bonita is a 50,000-sf, five-story, mixed-use affordable housing structure located in West Hollywood, Calif. It was commissioned by the non-profit West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. (WHCHC). The building is the pilot project for the city’s Green Building Ordinance, one of the first programs of its kind in the nation.

In a market sector that is accustomed to cutting corners and settling for boiler-plate design, the project successfully integrates affordability, sustainability, and style. This integration is most apparent in some of the buildings most visually striking elements – including its use of exposed structural steel — and can be found in the courtyard’s eccentric pink fiberglass wall.

The building’s 42 one-bedroom apartments are set aside for low-income residents with special needs, including the elderly, disabled, and those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. The ground floor provides office spaces for WHCHC and other non-profit groups, as well as retail space. Parking is provided at the basement and ground floor levels of the project.

The perimeter columns of this 112’x100’ building are spaced at 20 feet. To allow for the various uses, the building was designed with only four interior columns from the ground floor up. At the courtyard, floor beams connect to 60 foot long girders, which carry the forces back to columns at the corners.

Zoning restrictions limited the building height to a maximum of 50 feet. Typical apartment floor slabs are 11?2-in. metal deck with 41?2-in. normal weight concrete slabs which span 20 feet and work compositely with the W24 steel beams. These beams are cambered and span 43 feet, from the courtyard to the perimeter walls. The slab has extra reinforcing to allow the steel beams to align with partitions between units which results in apartments with higher ceilings. The deck was shored to control deflections under the wet weight of the concrete. The roof framing is lighter, as the deck supports no concrete – minimizing seismic loads and material use.

The ground and second floor slabs are more traditional, 3-in. metal deck with 31?2-in. normal weight concrete slabs spanning up to 11 feet to composite beams and girders. The second floor supports an outdoor bamboo garden and apartments.

The distinctive pink fiberglass wall at the entrance of the courtyard resembles a series of intersecting shards and is in fact based off of the eccentrically braced steel frame. This frame forms a component of the lateral resistance system in the north-south direction. It utilizes a variety of wide flange beams and tube steel bracing sizes to adequately express the randomness desired for the architecture.

In addition to the eccentrically braced frame, for north-south stability, a concentrically braced frame runs along the east fac?ade, while two segments of a concentrically braced frame run along the west fac?ade. The concentrically braced frames are comprised of W16 beams, W12 columns and tube steel braces ranging in size from 6×6 to 12×8.

For east-west stability, moment frames along the north and south faces of the building utilize W18 girders spanning 20 feet to the strong axis of W14 columns.

The building was originally designed to meet the 2001 California Building Code and later modified during construction to meet the requirements of the Los Angeles Amendments.

Canopies at the roof cantilever out and down past the north fac?ade to support photovoltaic panels, which framed out in tube steel and provide energy for the building.

Projects Less Than $15 Million

El Dorado Conference Center, El Dorado, Ark.

Building Team
Owner/Developer: El Dorado Economic Development Board, El Dorado, Ark.
Architect: Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects, Little Rock, Ark.
Structural Engineer: TME, Inc., Little Rock, Ark.
General Contractor: CDI Contractors, Little Rock, Ark.
Photo: Timothy Hursley

Successful architecture tells the unique story of a specific place, combining history with future aspirations to create a timeless quality. El Dorado, Ark., is not a sleepy southern town, but 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. As oil in Arkansas was exhausted and related industries branched out globally, a city that reached 40,000 people had shrunk to 19,000 in recent years.

To reverse this trend, Murphy Oil implemented a stunning proposal, the “El Dorado Promise,” guaranteeing every high school graduate with good grades earned a free college scholarship. The new influx of families interested in the promise created the need to attract industry and a climate for renewed civic pride, a new Boom Town. The community implemented a series of public projects to increase exposure, including The El Dorado Conference Center, which is half public meeting space and half college student services center.

Drawing from its greatest industries of past and present to the educational advancements of tomorrow, the EDCC creates a memorable architecture intended to help propel El Dorado into a regional meeting destination.

Without the flexibility of steel, however, the unique story of this place would have been impossible to tell. The conference center weaves time, place, and story together, closing a gaping hole in the urban fabric between town and college, while serving as a beacon for the renewal of Arkansas’ original Boom Town.

Located between a historic, thriving downtown square and South Arkansas Community College, the site links “town to gown.” The square and college also influenced a building party of two naturally lit public halls, one on the path to downtown, the other to the college academic quad. These interior streets work like the town square, lined with a cafe?, bookstore, and public/college meeting rooms, while serving as galleries for the college and art center. The great halls intersection serves as the living room of the community as well as “college central” for student services.

The key component of a design philosophy of celebrating the industry is the honest expression of the steel structure, and the craft of its detailing instead of the typical applied ornamentation. Every steel column, beam, bolt, and connection is exposed in the same functional fashion as would be seen on oil derricks and the steel bracing and platforms that adorned them. Student lounges float on upper level platforms with catwalk-like bridges connecting departments. Students can see, and be seen, sitting above the public paths.

The main public hall is 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 repeating structural rhythm and vertical thrust of the naturally lit space is a subtle nod to El Dorado native son architect, Fay Jones – the spirit is there without attempting to replicate the master’s work. Steel plates and channels are carefully layered to create memorable elements in a collegiate gothic manner. Wood is inlayed in bracing channels as stiffeners creating an elegant, yet simple, expression of function.

A great brick arch that spans the entire cafe/book store sits adjacent to the actual steel structure, like a masonry ruin held in place by the preeminent construction method of today – a steel structure.

A large steel bridge arch that runs the length of the public hall supports the suspended auto court canopy, reflecting the steel arched roof of the campus gymnasium (an old armory) across the street. What appear to be lime stone columns, like the town squares courthouse, are actually sun control fins, stopped short of the roof, to honestly express the lighter steel structure beyond, which allows the roof to float above. Where wood beams are used, they are still clearly supported by the steel structure.

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Va.


Building Team
Owner/Developer: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Springfield, Va.
Owner’s Representative: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District, Fort Belvoir, Va.
Architect: RTKL/KlingStubbins joint venture, Baltimore
Structural Engineer: RTKL/ KlingStubbins joint venture, Baltimore
General Contractor: Clark/Balfour Beatty joint venture, Bethesda, Md.
Steel Fabricator: SteelFab Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Steel Detailer: SteelFab Inc., Charlotte, N.C.
Consultant: Hinman Consulting Engineers, San Francisco
Photo: Paul Warchol

Situated on the outskirts of the Capital Beltway adjacent to the Accotink Creek stands the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) 2.4 million-sf campus known as New Campus East (NCE), which has not only been designed to enhance the agency’s capabilities as one of the leading intelligence organizations in the world but also to achieve a unifying, cultural transformation. This effort to foster a unified culture is expressed in the design of the nine-story Main Office Building.

Composed of two curved 900-foot long overlapping bars around a 500-foot long central atrium and elliptical auditorium, the building’s overall form is in the shape of a lens – a fitting metaphor for NGA which serves as the nation’s eyes as the primary source of geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) for the purposes of U.S. national security, defense and disaster relief.

This defining architectural expression was accomplished primarily due to the benefits of structural steel. Steel facilitated the large bay size needed for program flexibility of the typical office, reinforced the architectural concept and imagery expressed in the transparent atrium roof, west end wall and exterior V columns, and accommodated the constraints of highly complex technical anti-terrorism/force protection (ATFP) criteria and a demanding schedule.

Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Baltimore District, the project has its origins in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). RTKL Associates Inc. and KlingStubbins formed a joint venture to provide design services, including master planning and full architecture, engineering, interiors, site/civil, landscape and technology design.

At 2.2 million sf, the nine-story Main Office Building is the second largest single occupancy building in the world (after the Pentagon) and the largest federal building in the world to achieve LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

To fill the central atrium and interior of the building with light, the west end wall of the atrium was glazed with a curtain-wall system and the roof of the atrium was covered with a transparent fabric membrane. The west end atrium wall consists of a 135 foot tall by 140 foot wide curtain wall backed by a round hollow structural section (HSS) tube steel frame. Architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS) requirements were incorporated into the design, fabrication and erection of the space frame structure which served several functions. In addition to supporting the gravity loads of the curtain-wall, it supports atrium roof gravity and wind loads, and meets all mandated ATFP criteria. It also acts as a pedestrian bridge at several levels providing access and circulation between the towers.

The central atrium also serves as the main area of pedestrian circulation with a central elevator core linked by multiple bridges to each tower. Structural steel minimized the visual obstruction of these elements within the atrium and enabled them to be constructed after the towers.

The atrium roof is over 500 feet long and 45,000 sf, and consists of AESS arched steel tube members supporting an air-filled ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) fabric roof. Although it appears clear, the custom silkscreen pattern and air filled ETFE system provides significant daylight while minimizing solar gain. Being extremely lightweight minimized ATFP-related effects, and aided in reducing the tube structure size and tonnage.

The two 900 foot wings are configured to focus on the central atrium. These dramatic spaces, as well as, the atrium’s light filled amenities create a main street for the office building community. The west end atrium wall and the atrium roof structure enhance this effect.

The unique exterior design of the main office building was achieved using signature “V” columns spaced at 40 foot on center and featured along the first and second floor perimeter, providing a separation between the visually solid base and the triangulated precast facade of the upper six floors, while also continuing the diagonals of the upper facade. In addition to providing a strong aesthetic statement, the “V” columns participate in the lateral load resisting system and accommodate alternate load path/progressive collapse design.

As with every project, the main office building had its complexities with the most obvious being its size. Using innovative Early Contractor Involvement (ECI), the USACE Baltimore District awarded the construction contract early in the design process, at about 35% design, enabling the contractor to provide valuable input to the design process and facilitate fast-tracking and value engineering. In addition, the design team delivered phased procurement packages including steel mill-order and fabrication. A committed long-term partnering process between owner, designer and contractor began early in the design process, built trust and fostered a one-team environment. That collaborative effort fostered flexible and creative, attitudes by all parties, and was a key factor leading to the project being completed on budget and six months ahead of original schedule.

Why Farmers and Ranchers Choose Eco-friendly Metal Buildings

Strong, durable and recyclable pre-engineered steel barns and agricultural buildings make it easy to be “green.” The environmental benefits of metal buildings make them with favorite for rural dwellers and city dwellers alike.

This Land is Your Land

Farmers and ranchers respect the land. Their very existence depends on the earth’s bounty. Being “green” comes naturally to them.

That is just one of the many reasons so many ranchers and farmers make pre-engineered steel buildings their number one choice for barns and other ag buildings. They are confident metal buildings make the best environmental choice.

Steel: Endlessly Recyclable

Steel is by far the most recycled substance in the world.


Steel is the only building material on the planet that can be recycled countless time without losing any strength. RHINO’s metal barns and buildings contain up to 90.7% recycled steel.

Steel: Economical to Recycle

Other materials must be hand sorted for recycling. The magnetic qualities of steel make separating it simple. Using giant electromagnets, steel leaps from the solid waste stream, leaving glass, plastic, wood, and paper behind.

There is an abundance of steel to reclaim. Junked cars and ships, old railroad cars and tracks, dismantled old bridges, and discarded appliances abound. Decades from now, when your steel barn has outlived its usefulness, it too can be recycled into another generation of steel.

The steel industry is no Johnny-come-lately to the environmental bandwagon. North American steelmakers have been recycling steel for over 150 years.

Steel: Less Waste

Steel’s strength means fewer framing pieces are needed to construct a sturdy, durable structure.

Modern steel engineering software capitalizes on the inherent characteristics of steel to design the strongest possible structure— with the least amount of steel. Where wood structures typically build with studs placed 16 inches apart, pre-engineered steel buildings generally space steel columns 20-25 feet apart. Fewer pieces mean faster assembly, too.

Steel framing recycles again at the end of a structure’s lifecycle. Wood framing winds up in a landfill, adding more debris to our already overcrowded landfills.

At the end of a project, wood builders must pay to have huge amounts of leftover lumber and building materials hauled away. Efficiently designed pre-engineered steel barns and ag buildings leave little steel scrap when construction ends. Any remaining steel is sold to a metal scrap dealer for recycling.

Steel: Healthier for People and Animals

Building with untreated wood invites termites. Treating wood and surroundings with harsh chemicals discourages termites, but invites disaster. Treated wood outgasses into surrounding air to be breathed by people and their animals. Chemicals seep into the environment and water table.

Livestock often gnaws on treated wood-framed barns, ingesting chemicals and destroying the wood framing.

Mold grows rapidly in a humid environment like a wood structure full of animals. Mold and fungus create unhealthy air quality, increasing respiratory illnesses for both livestock and workers.

Often, wood framing is the initial site of ignition in a structural fire. Regardless of where a building fire begins, wood framing certainly adds fuel to the fire. Wooden pole barns and other buildings are more likely to experience fire ignited by lightning, too. In rural buildings containing hay or fertilizer, a fire can quickly become an inferno, spreading to nearby structures and endangering animals and people.

Metal barns and farm buildings resist termites, outgassing, mold growth, animal chewing, lightning damage, and fire.

Steel: Saves Trees

Every metal barn and steel building constructed means more living trees left to clean our air, removing contaminants and producing life-giving oxygen. That fact alone should be incentive enough to build with strong, durable, recycled steel.

Steel: Energy Efficiency

In areas where extreme weather requires climate-controlled farm buildings, a well-insulated metal barn saves a lot of money. The deeper walls of a pre-engineered steel barn allow room for extra-thick insulation, keeping everything snug and cozy. Utilities bills can be as 50% less in a RHINO metal building with a high R-value insulation package.

In extremely hot climates, choosing light-colored steel roofing reduces heating and cooling costs. Save an additional 7-15% with high-tech cool-coated steel roofing.

Steel: Greener Barns and Ag Buildings

Contact RHINO for more information on metal barns, steel stables, riding arenas, and other farm, ranch, and rural structures. RHINO’s experienced steel building specialists will answer any questions— and provide a fast, accurate quote.

Why You Should Build Your Home Gym with Steel

Steel buildings are now used to house everything from factories to offices. As more people recognize the advantages of steel construction, many homeowners are also using this building technology to enhance their property and boost its value. In only a fraction of the time required to build a standard cement structure, a homeowner can have a low-cost, durable steel building. These features make steel construction ideal for not only garages and workshops but also home gyms. Here are the benefits of choosing steel for your home gym and how you can create the perfect workout space made out of metal.

Convenient to Build

Steel construction is faster, cheaper and easier to build on your property. With many steel construction blueprints available, a pre-engineered solution can be chosen instead of hiring an architect to make the design. With many kits including pre-cut steel pieces and holes, a single group of construction workers can raise a steel gym far faster than they could build a cement gym. This also means that you won’t have to bear the noise and intrusion of a construction crew on your property for as long.

Major Options

Your steel gym may be pre-engineered, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t customize your design to more precisely meet your needs. A wide variety of floor plans are available to mix and match as necessary. You can have a one-room gym, separate areas for cardiovascular and strength training or even a bathroom and sauna if you so choose. If you let your steel construction provider know what you have in mind, it will be able to help make your ideas into reality.


Steel construction is incredibly durable, making it a smart investment that will serve you for years. Steel is naturally non-combustible, reducing fire risk to nearly nothing. Your steel gym will also be resistant to numerous environmental factors, such as earthquakes, strong winds, moisture and snowfall. This protection can help you keep your gym equipment in good shape for longer, especially if you keep electronic exercise machines, televisions or stereos inside your steel structure.

Plenty of Options

After your steel gym is built, you can enhance your exercise experience with a variety of features. To avoid boredom, you can install an entertainment system with television, DVD and music equipment. You can also add a sauna or steam room for detoxifying after a hard workout. To ensure that your gym is comfortable at all times of year, you can install a ventilation system with climate control. Finally, the addition of living plants to your steel gym can help keep the air cleaner indoors.

Choosing steel construction is a faster, cheaper and more reliable way to have a home gym. By building a solid structure, you will also add value to your property. Future home buyers will be likely to appreciate the eco-friendly status of steel, which is completely recyclable. In the meantime, you will have access to your own reliable workout space that requires little maintenance while offering the resilience and safety that steel readily provides.

Why are Steel Churches So Popular?

Steel buildings are an increasingly popular choice for congregations who need to build, or expand upon, their church. Construction time is considerably less than a traditional wood-framed building. Once your metal church building is up and running, you will also appreciate the energy-efficient and low-maintenance attributes that will help your congregation save money throughout your church’s long life. In addition to being economical, steel buildings are one of the most weather-proof building options available, making them both a spiritual and physical safe haven for your congregation.

Metal church building

We understand that some of the most important factors when planning a church construction project are costs and aesthetics. Pre-engineered and pre-fabricated metal buildings fit the bill for both categories, and then some. Here are reasons why steel churches are becoming so popular.

Steel church buildings are affordable.

Even though an expanding congregation means increased revenue, you still have to keep your costs to a minimum. Steel and metal components are more affordable than their brick and/or wood counterparts. Plus, your metal building can be pre-engineered and prefabricated, eliminating many of your up-front design costs. Once your prefabricated parts arrive on site, total building time will take weeks or months, rather than the months and years it can take to construct a large building.

Spacious designs make it easy for your church to expand, or re-design the interior, over time.

Because steel is such a strong building material, less support beams are necessary. This means your church can enjoy wide expanses of uninterrupted space. Your choir director can see the organist, the organist can take his/her cues from the pastor, and the congregation has plenty of room to expand. You can also incorporate meeting rooms, offices, Sunday school classes, and more. Your building’s design is up to you! Need to add on? Your steel church will easily accommodate.

The church can be as beautiful as you want it to be.

In the past, steel buildings had an industrial or agricultural look to them, which caused church builders to shy away. However, as modern technology has evolved, so have the abilities of steel buildings to replicate traditional building designs. When you work with your metal building manufacturer, you will select building components and finishes in a variety of shapes, angles, styles and color. In other words, whatever you envisioned for your new church is entirely possible with today’s metal building technology.

If you’ve already had plans drawn up by an architect or designer, simply submit them to your steel building manufacturer. They can take a look and translate your ideas for both the exterior and the interior, and figure out a way for it to be done.

A new steel church will save you money.

Steel churches are extremely durable and energy-efficient. This will make your church treasurer happy when the building saves thousands of dollars in utility bills and building maintenance that is no longer necessary. For example, a metal roof can have a warranty of up to 40 years or more!

Your church will be a safe haven in the storm.

How would you like for your church to serve as a place of refuge in a time of crisis? By design, steel and metal buildings can withstand high wind loads, which makes them resilient in the presence of high-wind storms. As long as your steel church is designed to meet your area’s weather-prone catastrophes, your congregation will be able to take shelter during storms knowing the church will be resilient to wind and water damage.

Summer Cleaning Tips for Your Steel Storage Shed for Engineer

If you skipped spring cleaning your steel storage shed, it’s not too late. It’s just warmer. And you know in your heart of hearts that your storage shed has become a black hole for all your outdoor stuff. When’s the last time you saw the back wall?

cleaning your steel buildings

Never fear, summer cleaning tips are here.

Here are some hacks and facts about cleaning and organizing your storage shed so you can go out and buy more stuff.

Get Organized

Break down the project into smaller steps if you can. It won’t seem as insurmountable as thinking about doing the whole thing. Think about what has to be done, when it can be done, and how long it will take.

Next, get your cleaning supplies together.

  • Broom
  • Mop
  • Duster
  • Pressure washer
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Your oldest clothes and shoes
  • Maybe a dust mask, too, if it has been a long time.

Make a schedule using your smaller steps and then stick to it! Schedules are meaningless if you ignore them. Plus, putting together a schedule gives you a list to cross off. This always feels good.

Need an extra pair of hands? Bribe or coerce the kids to help.

Get Started

First thing to do: get the door open without injury from falling items. OK, we hope we’re just kidding with this step.

A great first step is just wading in and pulling everything out of the shed. Lay it out in categorized piles:

  • Seasonal
  • Used often
  • Used once or twice a year
  • Too good to throw away but you never use it
  • Junk

Throw out the junk and consider selling or giving the “never use it” pile to charity or a friend. If there’s enough of it, maybe a garage sale is in order.


  1. Sweep the floor of all the dirt and debris that has collected under and around everything since the last cleaning.
  2. Wipe down the shelves and get the dirt and other stuff off them too. Wash them if needed.
  3. Wash the windows.
  4. Power-wash the floor and exterior. Caution: Make sure the floor and walls can take the flow of water. You don’t want to blow a hole in anything.
  5. Allow it to completely air dry to prevent mold. Run a fan or use a moisture collection bag if you have to. This will give you time to drink some iced tea and get off your feet.

Oh, and all that stuff you brought out? Clean it, too, before putting it back. You knew there was a catch, didn’t you?

Put Everything Back

Here, a little feng shui could come in handy. At the least, make a plan before you just throw everything back in because you’re sick of the whole project.

Obtain sturdy shelving units and/or plastic boxes (with lids) that can be safely stacked. Label all the boxes and shelves as you put things away so you can:

  • Find things again
  • Know where to put things back

Organize the small stuff first. Then put taller things to the back and heavier things on the bottom, both when stacking boxes and when putting larger items back into the shed. Mark off room for the largest items such as lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, and other lawn equipment. Hang lawn tools like rakes on a rack fastened to the wall.

Leave some room between stacks for air circulation and don’t forget to create a walkway. You don’t want to have to drag everything out to get to stuff if you don’t have to. Cover anything that isn’t boxed with a sheet or something to keep the dust and water off.

You’re Done!

Now you can collapse into that chaise lounge you found and wipe the sweat from your brow. You. Are. Done.

Until next year. Yep, there’s always a catch.

The Lowdown on Exposed Fastener Metal Roofing

Homeowners new to the idea of installing a metal roof will quickly jump to concealed fastener metal roofing options because they are concerned exposed fasteners will look unwieldy, preferring a more traditional and streamlined look.

exposed fastener metal roof

In fact, exposed fastener metal roofing is the most commonly used residential roof system. For one thing, it is the easiest – and the most affordable – to install. It is also versatile and, when installed and maintained correctly, yields a durable and dependable roof.

Exposed Metal Roof Fasteners

There are two types of metal roof fasteners: exposed and concealed. The latter are tucked away, hidden by the roofing panels themselves, making for a more time-consuming and costly installation. Exposed fasteners are, as their name implies, visible to the naked eye because they are installed on the top side of the roofing panels. Thus, the screw heads rest – exposed – on the panels.

You may also see them referred to as ” “screw-through” or “channel drain” fasteners. Some of the advantages of exposed fasteners are:

  • Quicker installation
  • Easier for do-it-yourselfers to install
  • Available for a variety of roof panel options
  • Cost efficiency

However, there are also some downsides. While a roof designed to be installed using exposed fasteners should live up to its stated warranty, exposed fasteners were originally designed for agricultural applications, as well as warehouses and industrial buildings. As a result, the fasteners are often made using cheaper materials, which can undermine the goal of metal roofing longevity.

Also, because the fasteners are exposed, they are more prone to wear-and-tear, compromising their performance. Finally, the penetrations required as the result of drilling through the roof panel create small gaps that can eventually contribute to moisture damage without proper maintenance and diligent inspections.

Benefits of Exposed Fastener Metal Roofing Systems

Here is a more detailed look at the benefits of exposed roof fasteners:

Quicker installation. Because the fasteners are drilled directly into the panels, it’s much faster work than installing standing seam roofs (sometimes, exposed fastener roofs are referred to as standing seam roofs, but they’re not. Standing seam products are designed to conceal fasteners).

Easy for DIYers. Corrugated metal roofs and other roofing options using fasteners that are exposed are the easiest for DIYers to install without the help of a licensed contractor. In most cases, building owners choose to use their preferred style of sheet metal roofing panels, which further simplifies the process because they provide the structural diaphragm, roof sheathing, and waterproofing. Outside of the ability to read and follow instructions – and owning the right tools – there are no special skill sets required.

Style versatility. The sheet metal panels that accommodate exposed fasteners come in a wide range of styles, from the widely recognized corrugated panels to more decorative or architecturally sensitive styles such as:

    • 5V Crimp (old-time residential)
    • 7.2 Panel (modern/industrial)
    • PBR (modern variation of a corrugated pattern)
    • Retro R (ideal for retrofits)

These options provide more design flexibility for those on a tighter budget or who want to perform the job themselves.

Lower overall costs. Not only are the materials for an exposed fastener roof more affordable than concealed fastener options, homeowners also save in terms of labor costs. DIYers wind up with an investment of time, rather than money. If you will be hiring a professional crew to install the roof for you, cheaper materials and reduced labor times result in a lower total project estimates.

Weaknesses with Exposed Fasteners

If you do opt to go with a residential metal roofing system using exposed fasteners, certain precautions will be necessary.

  1. Purchase the highest-quality fasteners. Because the exposed fasteners experience more wear and tear via UV rays, moisture, debris and exposure to environmental toxins, they can be outlived by the panels below them if you fail to choose your products wisely. Working with a metal roofing manufacturer who is familiar with your climate and building codes will ensure you purchase the most durable fasteners for the job. Going the cheapest route can cause your roof to have a lifespan closer to 20 or 25 years, rather than the 40 or 50 years most homeowners hope for.
  2. Use best practices when installing the screws. While it’s true that installation is relatively easy, that doesn’t mean the job can be done haphazardly. Pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. Only use the recommended screw gun for the job and be careful to create a tight seal, without using excessive pressure.
  3. Perform bi-annual inspections. While the fasteners may be exposed, it requires regular inspections to ensure they’re performing properly. Make a ritual of bi-annual inspections of the fasteners – more frequent if you live in an area with more serious weather. Tighten any screws that have loosened as a result of weathering and/or temperature-related roof expansion and contraction. Replace any screws and/or seals that look weathered or seem compromised in any way. You should also take a peek in the attic, looking for any potential leaks that may not have made themselves known in the home’s main living areas.
  4. Make repairs immediately. If your roof springs a leak or your bi-annual inspections uncover any potential issues or repairs, perform necessary repair or replacement work immediately. Failure to do so will compromise your roof’s performance, could result in more serious and long-term damage to your home’s structural components and furnishings. Delayed repairs can also void the roof’s warranty.
  5. Use adequate waterproofing barriers and insulation. If you live in an area prone to moisture or hurricanes, make sure to use an adequate waterproofing barrier below the roof system for added protection. Code-compliant insulation will also help to protect the interior of the building from moisture damage as the result of excessive condensation.

The Union Carbide Building

Union Carbide rebuilt and being torn down years later.jpgThankfully the events of September 6th were not nearly as devastating as the could been. The only person that was on site that evening, because it was a weekend, was a security guard who happened to be on the other end of the construction site at the time of the collapse (Bradburn 2011). On Eglington Avenue, the heroic and skillful actions of a bus driver saved the lives of himself and several others. The driver heard the loud crash of the structure and swerved out of harms way in just enough time to avoid the bus being crushed by the crumbling steel (Bradburn 2011). The damage caused by the Union Carbide Building collapse was luckily only materials, and a stoppage in construction. Several parked cars were crushed, and none of the original steel was salvageable even though only one of the several hundred welds failed (Feld 1996 p.147-150).

After the investigations were completed as mentioned previously, the building design was deemed sufficient, but to ensure another collapse would not happen again the consultants recommended the addition of deep horizontal trusses between columns the columns of each floor to add more lateral stability during construction and occupancy (Bradburn 2011). The designers took these recommendations into consideration, and rebuilt the structure with the newly added trusses, and the Union Carbide Building was completed and opened by July 1960. After opening in 1960, the Union Carbide operated without incident until 1990 when it was demolished to make room for new construction as seen in Fig. 2 (Bradburn 2011).

Union Carbide Building: September 6, 1958

Union Carbide collapse 2.jpg

According to Jack McCormac, author of the 4th edition of Structural Steel Design, in the past 150 years there have been many failures due to wind alone, and a large percentage of these building failures occurred while the steel frame was being erected (McCormac 2008 p. 45). One major case is the Union Carbide Building in Toronto, Canada. The Union Carbide Building, designed by Shore and Moffat, was to be a state of the art building that would house the management of Union Carbide’s Canadian operations and some of its various subsidiaries (Bradburn 2011). The building was a 180,000 square foot, 215′ x 65′ wide steel framed structure with columns at 20′ centers (Feld 1996 p.147-150). One feature of this building was the lack of interior columns to allow for maximum space.

Erection of the steel frame began in mid-June of 1958 at 123 Eglington Avenue in Toronto. On Friday September 5, 1958 all of the connections were welded completely up to the 9th floor by the end of the work day Friday. To stabilize the top two floors of the building temporary bracing was put in place, and the top two floors would be welded at the beginning of the following week (Feld 1996 p. 147-150). But the events of September 6, 1958 would halt construction and turn a quiet street in Toronto upside down. At approximately 6:20 PM a lightning storm hit Toronto with wind gusts reportedly reaching speeds greater than 90 kph (Bradburn 2011). With the strong winds and a possible lightning strike, the southwest corner of the steel frame began to sway and then the entire 1850 tons of structural steel came crashing to the ground, as scene in Fig. 1, in a scene described as, “a falling house of sticks and a folding accordion,” (Bradburn 2011).

Investigations done by the city, insurance companies, and consultants proved that the original building design was sufficient (Feld 1996 p. 147-150). The investigations proved the temporary bracing used on the upper two floors was not sufficient enough to resist the extreme conditions of the September 6th storm (Bradburn 2011). Once the temporary bracing failed the southwest corner of the building collapsed down onto the lower nine floors and the weight plus the force of the impact exceeded the rest of the frame’s load capacity, resulting in the pancaking of the entire structure. The original design called for girder to column moment connections with deep concrete spandrel beams in the longitudinal direction, but erection of the concrete beams was not started by the time of the building collapse (Feld 1996 p. 147-150). Without the concrete beams, the only bracing the 11-story columns had were the very light longitudinal tie beams at each floor in the face of the walls that did not provide nearly enough rigidity to brace the structure against the wind forces that evening (Feld 1996 p.147-150).

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


Building Team
Owner/Developer: Rice University, Houston
Architect: Thomas Phifer and Partners, New York
Artist: James Turrell
Structural Engineer: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, Chicago
General Contractor: Linbeck Construction Group, LLC, Houston
Photo: Paul Hester

The Twilight Epiphany, James Turrell Skyspace at Rice University is a permanent outdoor experiential art installation consisting of a 72’x72’ outdoor roof atop a berm-like, two-level, below-ground viewing gallery. The Skyspace was conceived by artist James Turrell to create an atmospheric experience integrating light, sound and space that complements the natural light present at sunrise and sunset. Additionally, the Turrell Skyspace is acoustically engineered for musical performances.

The use of structural steel on Skyspace allowed the artist and design team to push the outer limits of cantilever span and slenderness, all the while concealing the structure to give the impression of a roof almost magically floating in the air. The slenderness of the columns, combined with the huge cantilevers and sight lines which hide the structural depth, create an impression so dramatic that visitors are often puzzled by how the roof stands up. The roof structure as envisioned by the artist could only have been realized with structural steel.

Visitors experience the Skyspace initially from a distance, and later by passing through tunnels into the main lower viewing area, where they can sit on granite (air-conditioned) benches and peer through the bottom surface of the roof. The lower roof surface serves as a palate upon which ever-changing hues of light are projected to alter one’s perception of the surrounding sky as viewed through a 14’x14’ oculus in the center of the roof. The project has received wide-spread critical acclaim and, perhaps more importantly, inspires delight and wonder in its visitors.

The structural system for Skyspace is comprised of a 72’x72’ octa-symmetric, tapered, cantilevering frame supported by eight slender, 6-in. diameter HSS steel cantilevered (flagpole) columns. Two concentric rings of steel girders support a series of tapered double cantilevers which reach out to the inner and outer roof edges. The lateral system consists only of the eight cantilevered columns. The tapered steel roof framing is fabricated from deconstructed, then built-up and tapered, W18 and W24 sections, HSS 5×3 perimeter tubes, and tapered stiffener plates, which reach beyond the primary beams out to the edges of the roof.

Minimizing the depth of the roof framing and aggressively tapering the steel was critical to the project, because the artist carefully calculated site lines to ensure that none of the top roof surfaces are visible when viewed from the ground. The fixed restraints on the framing depth and profile, together with the large cantilevers (nearly 25 ft along the diagonals) made designing and detailing the steel framing challenging. The tapered steel beam geometry was perfectly determined to follow the upper and lower roof slopes, with a consistent and small offset from the final surface. In addition to tapering the steel wide-flange sections longitudinally, the top flange of beams perpendicular to the roof slope is canted at the same angle as the top roof surface. The steel was squeezed within a very tight architectural package, with very small tolerances.

The tapered roof geometry continues beyond primary steel several feet until the upper and lower roof surfaces meet in a “knife edge.”

For the last 2 to 3 inches of the cantilever, there is so little depth that a tapered steel plate with stiffeners is first used; and as the depth decreases, only a flat horizontal plate extends about a foot further, until finally the architectural top surface of the roof transitions to a painted steel plate that forms the final foot of the cantilever. The outer edge of this 5/16-in. painted plate was sharpened to enhance the crisp appearance of the edge. The high-performance plaster lower surface of the roof extends all the way to the tip of the knife edge. The detailing of a seamless transition from primary steel into an exposed architectural surface that is simultaneously a structural cantilever was one of the project team’s greatest challenges.

Designing the structural steel to closely match the architectural roof profiles required close coordination with the technical architects and full detailing of all connections, primary and secondary miscellaneous steel members alike. The geometry of all steel and connections were fully specified in the structural contract drawings, leaving no interpretation to the fabricator.

HL23, New York


Building Team
Owner: 23 High Line, LLC, New York
Architect: Neil M. Denari Architects, Los Angeles
Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers, New York
General Contractor: TF Nickel & Associates, Ronkonkoma, N.Y.
Photograph: Rinze van Brug Photography

Located in Manhattan’s West Chelsea District, HL23 creates a new 14-story, 42,395-sf ultra-luxury residential building. In total, the project creates 11 condominium units, 3,585 sf of ground floor gallery space and an elevated terrace/garden area. The floor plate of the building, which is smaller at the base than at the top, owes its uniqueness to the existing elevated exposed Highline Railway – retrofitted into a city park facility – located at the eastern portion of the building lot.

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.

The building’s dual-lateral support system is the most intriguing element of the structure. A steel plate shear wall (SPSW) system – unique in New York City – provided the project with the benefits of increased stiffness and smaller dimension – both tremendous benefits for this site. The SPSW system is located at the elevator and stairs in combination with a full-building perimeter braced frame system. As a true sign of synergy between form and function, the architect incorporated the perimeter lateral pipe braces into the final interior aesthetic of the residences. This required special care during the design of the exposed connections of the perimeter steel diagonal braces to perimeter steel beams. It was achieved by replacing the traditional use of multiple bolts gusset plates with end plates hidden in the concrete metal deck slab for intermediate diagonal braces and with pin-end connections for end braces.

Architectural requirements played a large part in the final structural layout, and the use of structural steel was driven by three primary factors:

• Minimizing the overall weight of the structure for the capacity of the raft foundation
• Minimizing the amount of interior columns
• Providing the perimeter diagonal architectural expression.

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 the more economical and efficient material of choice.

Floor beams are composite with the concrete slab-on-deck; however, all of the intermediate steel beams were removed to increase headroom in the living areas. This was achieved by using shored construction in many areas with a slab thickness between 6 in. and 7 in. and varying metal deck properties throughout the floor. At the upper floors, the maximum beam/girder span was nearly 30’-0”.

Due to the building’s modest height, a SPSW system was considered both-structurally effective and visually attractive. The east-west dimension of the building is very tight, and any reduction in dimension of structure was beneficial to the floor layouts. Using 3/8-in. thick plates, instead of wide-flange brace members, freed up an extra foot of usable floor area between the columns for each wall of the system. This two foot savings was an enormous achievement in a building that is 38 feet wide.

To help speed erection, the structural engineer worked with the general contractor and the fabricator to develop a system where the perimeter of the plate was continuously welded, with three of the four sides shop welded. Prefabricated shear wall panels, with integral columns and beams, were shipped to the site and spliced in the field. This process ultimately saved a considerable amount of time in erecting the SPSW system.

The second part of the dual lateral system is comprised of perimeter brace frames on each of the elevations. In addition to lateral loads, the perimeter braced frames in many locations are part of the gravity system as well. The braced exoskeleton members are 8” diameter double-extra strong pipes at the North, South and part of the East facade; HSS 10×5 tubes on the West facade and 6×4 back-to-back angles on the remainder of the East facade. All of the pipe elements are primary architectural features and exposed on the facade and in the residences. Therefore, the detailing of these elements was heavily scrutinized. In addition to standard Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS) specifications, the nodes of the system have been designed with an exposed single 112-in. diameter pin connection. The final building aesthetic merges the strength and beauty of steel into a composite whole.

Projects $15 Million to $75 Million

City Creek Center Retractable Roof, Salt Lake City

Building Team
Owner: City Creek Reserve, Salt Lake City
Architect: Hobbs + Black Architects, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Structural Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Seattle
General Contractor: Jacobsen Construction, Salt Lake City
Steel Fabricator: Ducworks, Inc., Logan, Utah
Steel Detailer: Uni-Systems, Minneapolis
Steel Erector: Uni-Systems, Minneapolis
Mechanization Consultant: Uni-Systems, Minneapolis
Photograph: Magnusson Klemencic Associates

City Creek Center is the result of a plan by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints to transform two Salt Lake City mega-blocks just south of Temple Square into a 5.5 million-sf, mixed-use development featuring retail, residential, office, and parking space. Developers wanted an urban, open-air setting, but also needed the assurance that retail businesses would be protected during inclement weather. After studying many skylight possibilities, the project’s structural engineer produced a retractable roof concept that fully met the developer’s needs.

The resulting retractable, barrel-vaulted roof is configured in two sections, each spanning one city block. Each section is 240 ft. long and 58 ft 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.

For each block, the retractable roof is comprised of three pairs of glass?covered, arching panels that cantilever 33 ft from the adjacent structures over the retail concourse. When closed, all six panels seal together and create an air and water?tight barrier. To open, the panels part in the middle and retract onto the building structure as the panels bow down out of sight from below.

Key to the bowing action are innovative whalebone-shaped ribs that support the glass roof. Each roof panel is comprised of three parallel whalebones made of curved and tapered welded steel box girders that run from the tip of each panel’s arch to the end of its back span.

The glazed portion of the three whalebone arches are joined by four purlins made of 8-in. XX-strong A106 Grade B pipe and one purlin of hollow structural section (HSS) 10-3/4 x 1-2 in. ASTM A500 Grade B tube. The purlins are designed with concealed connections that are invisible from below. The three whalebone back spans are connected with rectangular HSS ASTM A500 Grade B tubing in a K-brace configuration to provide shear stiffness between whalebones. In order to meet special finish and detailing requirements, the side and bottom whalebone girder walls were ground and filled to produce perfectly flat plane surfaces.

The whalebones were built in two sections using custom? designed fixtures and joined with a plate?welded connection to accommodate the unique geometry. The preassembled rail girders and whalebones were hoisted onto the roof, and the panels were assembled in place, stick framing whalebones, purlins, and K-braces.

Each 10.5-ton whalebone is supported by a 27-in. double-flanged steel wheel located at the bottom of the arch and two guide rollers located at the end of the back span. The wheel follows one geometric path on top of the rail girder, and the guide rollers ride an inclined track along the bottom of the rail girder. As the guide rollers travel up the incline, the roof’s cantilevered front edge dips down, causing the roof to bow down, with the wheel as the vertical rotation point.

An industrial computer located in a remote control room operates the retractable roof, which travels up to 8 ft per minute and opens or closes in approximately 6 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 mechanization engineer.

How Much Does a Pre-Engineered Metal Building Cost?

Wouldn’t it be nice if a company could provide a single, solid figure for the total building cost? The reality is there is absolutely no way to do that because there are too many variables involved with any construction project – from design and change orders to weather delays and materials selection, to name a few.

metal building cost

Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings Cost Less in the Long Run

What is certain is that when planned and designed well, and when experienced metal building manufacturers and builders are used, the cost of a metal building is almost surprising. In some cases, the total costs for a pre-engineered building is upwards of 40% less than other types of construction, due to the ease and speed of construction, and that’s without taking lifetime costs into consideration.

So, while providing an exact figure isn’t possible, it is possible to outline factors that make steel buildings affordable in the big picture.

Pre-Engineering Reduces Materials Waste & Change Orders

The pre-engineering process is a cost-saving technique. Your team will work closely with designers and the manufacturing company to create a building design that suits your needs and meets the building codes for your particular region, including the considerations required for things like excessive wind speeds, snow loads or seismic activity.

Once this design is complete, the building is engineered and its parts are fabricated to specific, quality-controlled dimensions. The result is a deconstructed metal building that is shipped to the building site, ready to be erected.

This process avoids:

  • Time spent measuring and cutting materials to size on site
  • Scrapping materials that are warped, overly knotted or malformed
  • Human error that leads to wasted materials due to mis-measurment or poor cuts

Change orders can be one of the most time-consuming and costly impacts on a construction project’s timeline and budget. With a pre-engineered building, these changes are already worked out during the design phase so the team – including the building owner – is more committed to getting the building up and running.

Shorter Build Time Means Lower Labor Costs

Labor costs are another driving force behind project budgets, so the sooner the building is complete, the better it is for those who funding the paychecks. Assuming site conditions are prime and weather is favorable, pre-fabricated metal buildings are much faster to construct than wood-framed buildings.

With an experienced crew, a metal building can be erected and closed-in within a matter of days or weeks, and the entire project can be completed within weeks or just a few months. This is more cost-efficient for everyone involved, especially those who live in more extreme climate zones with only have a short, dry season to pour a foundation and get the building closed in.

Cheaper Fuel Prices Mean Cheaper Steel

If you follow the commodities market, you know that when oil prices go up, so does the price of steel. This is because – in addition to supply and demand – shipping costs are one of the most poignant factors that affect the steel pricing.

Some companies are willing lock in steel pricing for a set window, typically 90-days, which can help you avoid the stress of fluctuating prices as you work on finishing your building design.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Lifetime Costs

When analyzing a project’s budget, it’s equally or perhaps even more important to take lifetime costs into consideration. Depending on the size of a project, this can save a building owner thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of the building’s lifetime. For example, insurance premiums for metal buildings are often notably less than those for traditionally-built structures.

Other factors to consider include:

  • Reduced maintenance costs. Because steel and metal are inherently durable and resistant to typical materials threats such as pests or fire damage, they require significantly less maintenance than most other building materials. Metal roofs and siding are often warranteed for 40-years, durable metal coatings and paint won’t have to be re-done more than once ever ten years or more. This adds up to serious savings.
  • Fewer repairs and replacement. Along with reduced maintenance requirements is a lower number of large-scale repair and/or component replacement that will be required along the way. Again, consider the metal roofing system, which will often last for 50 or 60 years with a modicum of maintenance, with a traditional asphalt shingle roof that will need to be replaced every 15 to 20 years. Because steel and metal is more resistant to pests, rot, warping and general weathering, a pre-engineered metal building will require far fewer repairs and parts replacement to perform as designed.
  • Energy savings. The price of oil affects the price of steel, and it also affects the price of fuel used to power a building’s energy systems. Cool metal roofs and reflective/emissive materials have been shown to reduce annual cooling costs by as much as 40%. Additionally, metal buildings retain a tightly sealed envelope and allow for extra insulation in the interior wall spaces, which further reduce heating and cooling costs. Finally, your metal building roof is a prime habitat for a solar power system, which will significantly reduce your need for electricity and gas.

There is no builder or building manufacturer that can tell you exactly how much a pre-engineered building will cost. What is clear though, is that a well-designed and expertly constructed metal building is a cost-efficient solution.

3 Reasons Steel Municipal Buildings are So Popular

When a community needs a new structure in today’s economy, it’s easy to come up with at  least three reasons steel municipal buildings are so popular of an option. From the affordability of new construction and long-term maintenance to the attractiveness inherent in today’s professional designs, governments would do well to invest in these simple structures that are easy to adjust to the needs of tomorrow. Consider the following when gathering quotes for new fire stations, police stations or other city structures:

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Short- and Long-term Affordability

Pre-engineered municipal steel buildings present an immediate savings over traditional construction. Not only are materials more affordable, but it takes less time and labor to put them together. Because materials are made of steel and not a less sturdy material, you lose fewer supplies to damage and manufacturer defects. Steel components are extremely durable and withstand a great deal of abuse.

Once completed, your steel municipal building will require far less maintenance and will be more energy efficient. This, combined with the low cost of insurance that is typical for steel construction, creates a pathway to long-term savings. They really do provide the total package when considering your city’s bottom line.


Steel municipal buildings are used throughout the United States as public shelters against nature’s worst weather. This sturdy material can be constructed in a way that provides adequate protection against the strong wind and rain yet is still flexible enough to navigate the twists and turns of earthquakes without falling apart. The same cannot be said for all forms of traditional construction.

These sensible metal buildings also resist the effects of mildew and mold, rot, pests and stave off rust with the right preventions in place. It’s safe to say they provide the most potential for pleasing, classic design and long-term protections against hefty repairs of any today’s other construction materials or methods.


Local and state governments have embraced the importance of sustainability. Not only does cutting waste and energy use tend to lower expenses across the board, it reduces the wear and tear we place on our natural resources. Seeing the powers that be investing in green initiatives motivates communities to follow suit. It’s essential that metal government buildings are touted as green options, and that citizens are educated on the environmental benefits.

For instance, building with steel prevents much of the waste created by traditional construction. This benefit holds true both in the factories where pre-fab constructions are designed and on-site while these elements are pieced together. Steel is also highly recyclable. At the end of your new construction’s life, it will likely be scrapped and remolded versus dumped in a landfill.

While there are a numerous reasons to make the leap toward today’s metal construction, these are just 3 reasons steel municipal buildings are so popular. Be sure to consider these benefits before starting your next community project. The convenience, safety and savings – both in resources and in dollars – are well worth the investment.

Washing Your Metal Building

Does your spring cleaning routine extend to your metal building? It should. Pressure washing a metal building is one of the easiest and quickest ways to remove accumulated grime, mineral deposits, debris and cobwebs that accumulate throughout the year. The longer dirt and grime covers your building’s facade, the more susceptible your building is to oxidation and corrosion. Also, your paint will be more likely to be irreversibly stained.

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Remember that one of the greatest benefits of building with metal components is their durability when maintained as per manufacturer’s instructions. Adhering to these recommendations can save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary maintenance over the course of the building’s lifetime. Most metal building manufacturers recommend washing your metal building at least once a year, every six months is optimal.

The following steps will guide you through DIY washing techniques to restore your metal building back to the way it looked when it was new.

Easy Steps for Pressure Washing Your Metal Building Exterior

1) Rent a Pressure Washer

You can rent a pressure washer from your local home improvement store. A pressure washer consists of a small motor, electric or gas, that is connected to a high-pressure water pump. The pump accesses water from a tank and propels it through a hose with a manually controlled nozzle. The water is pushed out with a pressure of up to 2000 per square inch. This force, combined with a proper detergent, will blast any mildew, grime, dirt, or other debris off the facade of the building and will allow you to access up to two-stories’ worth of exterior square footage.

It will also strip away any loose or peeling paint so you can repaint and/or seal areas that would have been prone to further corrosion or oxidization down the road. Always read the instruction manual carefully, and never point the nozzle at a human, pet or other animal as the force of the spray can cause injury.

2) Prepare the Building

You will need to take several pre-cleaning steps to protect landscaping and other items around the building, as well as the interior and yourself.

  • First, remove potential hazards such as outdoor furniture, container planters, ornamentation, etc. What can’t be removed should be covered with a tarp or plastic sheeting.
  • Water surrounding plant beds thoroughly before covering them so they aren’t able to absorb any potential detergent run-off.
  • Close windows and doors tightly so the spray can’t penetrate and damage interior furnishings. If you have a storage unit or self-storage style rolling doors, verify they are sealed well enough to handle exterior pressure washing without allowing water to infiltrate the space. You may find out these doors need to be washed by hand.
  • Cover light fixtures, utility meters, cable boxes, and any other exterior/electrical penetrations.
  • Switch the breakers off to any power that runs to exterior sockets and lighting fixtures.

3) Pre-Wash Techniques

Your pressure washing will be much more effective if you do a little pre-wash work to loosen up the grime and get to work on mildew. First, use a soft wall brush with a long handle, and use it to scrub the exterior walls horizontally and then vertically. This will also remove any spider webs or cobwebs, which are practically impervious to pressure washing efforts. If there is any visible mold or mildew growth, mix a bleach solution with one-part bleach and three-parts water. Use a spray bottle to spray the solution onto any visible patches, using a ladder to access hard-to-reach spaces.

4) Low-Pressure Soak

Now your exterior is ready to be pressure washed. Flush the hose and then use a low-pressure setting to spray clean water to pre-soak the surface.

5) Add Detergent

In most cases, you can add about 1/3 cup of laundry detergent to every six gallons of hot water. However, you will want to verify that this is appropriate for your particular paint or metal building sealant. If you are in doubt, contact the manufacturer or your contractor to verify which type of detergent they recommend.

6) Pressure Washing

Keep the unit on the low-pressure setting to start. For most buildings, this will be enough and will prevent unnecessary paint stripping or denting of your metal siding. Set the wand at an angle and begin washing the building Work in sections and moving the nozzle from side to side. Heavily soiled areas can be tended to using a water-powered scrub brush attachment, or you can use a regular scrub brush and work on them by hand.

7) Rinse

If you used detergent, rinse the tank and refill it with fresh water. Flush the hose and nozzle and then rinse the building facade to remove excess detergent.

Allow your building to dry in the sun and wind and enjoy your metal building’s fresh new look.

Choosing the Best Metal Building Supplier

The right metal building supplier will make all the difference as you design and construct your building. From the customer service and engineering expertise included in the design process, to the clear instructions, references and high-quality materials used to erect and install it, choosing the best supplier you can afford will be well worth any extra costs involved.

best metal building

Your Metal Building Supplier Matters

Most project managers, construction companies and private builders consider two things when they purchase their product:

  1. Price
  2. Quality

Unfortunately, considerations often rank in that order, meaning you may get the best (aka “cheapest”) price, but at the significant cost of quality. The problem is that cheaply fabricated and/or constructed buildings may cost less now, but those costs will typically exceed the original “amount saved” in terms of maintenance, parts failures, repairs and replacements that take place down the road. This doesn’t take other significant cost-causing events into consideration – such as injuries or fatalities resulting from a building collapse, or from a building that doesn’t hold up in a natural disaster.

Therefore, builders should first to gain a more comprehensive cost:benefit ratio. In addition to a reasonably-priced building – a reputable metal building supplier should also provide:

  • Engineering and architectural support
  • Unlimited customer service
  • Additional resources when it’s time for erection and construction
  • Superior quality building products and coatings
  • Top-notch warranties

There are three ways most building owners purchase a pre-engineered metal building system:

  1. Directly from the manufacturer. If you opt to work directly through the manufacturer, you will get the best price. However, this will also take the most time because you will want to narrow the choices to at least three to five different companies to make a thorough cost/services comparison.
  2. Using a metal building broker. This might be the best option if you don’t have much time, aren’t interested in doing the research and cost comparisons yourself, or simply feel you don’t have a enough know-how to handle the “research and development” aspects of your metal building project. A broker is, by definition, a “middle man”. He will upcharge your total cost to recoup the time and energy spent researching your options.
  3. Via the general contractor. If you are working with a reputable metal building contractor, they will be able to walk you through your options. An experienced metal building professional will be well-versed on the top metal building manufacturers, and have established relationships with a few of them. Your contractor will also be able to schedule purchase, delivery and assembly as part of the contract.