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59 Tips to a Pipe Dream
Posted by on January 15, 2008 at 1:44 PM. | No Comments »

The list of 59 tips published for a more economical design were very well thought out.  The unfortunate thing is that the vast majority of these will be completely ignored by the structural design industry.  The steel detailing and fabrication industry has pleaded for decades to get Engineers and Architects to understand the positive impact that these tips can have on a project.  The reality is that the quality of design drawings has declined significantly.  Each new project requires more RFI’s than the previous one.  Until designers realize that detailers and fabricators have "real world" knowledge of connection design and fabrication, the deterioration of quality, comprehensive and complete design documents will continue.

Working with Frank Gehry
Posted by on January 15, 2008 at 1:10 PM. | No Comments »

In response to Scott Melnick’s insightful “Editor’s Note” (January MSC p. 6), our experience with Gehry and Associates has been limited but positive. The architect’s design for the Jay Prizker Pavilion trellis (an elaborate, open canopy) called for 570 tons of steel pipe as large as 20” in diameter to be curved in two planes with multiple radii. Long before the design was finalized, engineers at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill consulted us about curving the steel pipe. Although Chicago Metal could have followed the original design concept, our architecturally trained estimator suggested that each arch be curved in only one plane and that the radii—ranging from 100’ to 1000’—change at each nodal junction. This design change simplified the geometry for curving, for fabrication and for erection, thereby reducing cost and construction time without compromising aesthetics or function. Gehry and Associates agreed to the change and even added their own twist: each arch has a slight sideways tilt. John Zils of SOM said Chicago Metal’s advice “was a significant contribution to the project.” As the result of the cooperation and teamwork of all parties, the work was performed with such precision that the structural steel fabricator, Acme Structural; the erector, Danny’s Construction; and the general contractor, Walsh Construction, all remarked how “the trellis pieces went together so well.”


George Wendt, President

Chicago Metal Rolled Products, Chicago IL


For additional examples of architects, engineers and contractors working together, please see the May 2006 issue of MSC, “Ask the Experts.”

Gehry’s new Lewis Library at Princeton
Posted by on January 11, 2008 at 9:12 PM. | No Comments »

I have been involved with the inspection of the building envelope at the new Lewis Library at Princeton University. The initial steel fabricator there failed. It appeared to me that the fabricator attempted to use the CATIA modle for detailing connections.

     I am primarily employed as a Structural Steel Special Inspector. In this instance I was an outside observer employed by the University.

     In this case the fabricator did not appear to try to migrate the archetectural information from the CATIA model into a viable structural program. This has been a clasic error where the fabricator just trusts the Architects, and Engineers drawings do their connection detailing for them. In my structural experience (I was the primary inspector on Philadelphia Eagles Stadium, and Phillie’s Ball Park.)

     While the basic problem may be in trying to convert design formats. I have found that in many cases the fabricator just does not see the need to put the design information into a shop presentation. The most serious problems I have encountered have been on Arcetectural Drawings issued to the shop.