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Steel Structure Trivia: How Are You Celebrating SteelDay?
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM.


With just under a month to go until SteelDay, September 28, we thought we’d get into the spirit with this month’s Steel Structure Trivia challenge. Hanging from a steel building facing the American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington, D.C., just two blocks from the White House, this sign proclaims the upcoming fourth annual SteelDay, the structural steel industry’s largest educational and networking event, celebrated nationwide. Your challenge is to tell us what your plans are for SteelDay! Haven’t signed up for an event yet? You can find one near you at


Congratulations and thank you to Brad Fletcher with Atlas Tube/JMC Steel Group in Chicago for supplying his SteelDay plans. Atlas Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group and an AISC member, is hosting a SteelDay event (click here for more info) at JMC Steel Group’s headquarters in downtown Chicago. Here is Brad’s event description:


Have you visited the John Hancock? Listened to music at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion? Flown into O’Hare Airport? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you’ve witnessed the aesthetic possibilities of hollow structural sections (HSS). Chicago laid the foundation for high-tech architecture and the use of HSS in architecturally exposed structural steel. Now, we’re proud to say structural steel is renowned as the material of choice for the future of engineering. What better way to celebrate Chicago and HSS than with an Atlas Tube SteelDay event?


Atlas Tube, the leading producer of HSS in North America, is celebrating SteelDay with an educational and networking event hosted at JMC Steel Group’s headquarters in downtown Chicago. Our SteelDay event features an HSS presentation given by structural engineer and HSS expert, Brad Fletcher. Attendees can also look forward to free lunch and the opportunity to meet and mingle with architects, engineering students and other industry peers.

Join us on September 28, 2012 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a presentation on the challenges and benefits of designing and building with HSS. If you can’t attend the event, don’t worry! We’ll be live tweeting throughout the day, so follow us @AtlasTube and @JMCSteelGroup.


To learn more about this year’s SteelDay, visit Still not sure why you should attend? Watch this video to find out!

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Live AISC Seismic Webinar: September 6
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 30, 2012 at 1:32 PM.

AISC will be hosting a live webinar next Thursday, September 6, based on the standard, Prequalified Moment Connections for Special and Intermediate Steel Moment Frames for Seismic Applications (AISC 358-10).


Presented by Michael Engelhardt, Ph.D., the DeWitt C. Greer Centennial Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin and the 1999 recipient of AISC’s prestigious T.R. Higgins Award for his paper on Reduced Beam Section Moment Connections, the webinar will cover an overview of connection prequalification and an introduction to available prequalified connections.


The 1.5-hour webinar will begin at the following times, relative to time zone:
10:30 a.m. PDT
11:30 a.m. MDT
12:30 p.m. CDT
1:30 p.m. EDT


The cost of the webinar is $185 for AISC members, $285 for non-members and $155 for students and educators. (Fees are based on a per site connection basis. Purchase one site connection and any number of members in your company or organization may view the webinar at that site connection. All attendees are eligible to receive CEUs/PDHs.)


Registrants will receive access to a PDF file of the presentation slides prior to the webinar, CEU/PDH certificates for all attendees upon completion of the live webinar (0.15/1.5 CEUs/PDHs) and complete instructions for accessing the live webinar.


Click here to register for the live webinar.


To learn more about AISC webinars, visit

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UC Berkeley Steel Bridge Team to be Honored at Cal’s Home Opener
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 29, 2012 at 4:59 PM.


The champions of this year’s ASCE/AISC National Student Steel Bridge Competition, the student team from the University of California, Berkeley, will be honored at the Cal vs. Nevada college football game on Saturday, September 1 at the newly renovated Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif. (Click on thumbnail image to enlarge photo. Photo: Courtesy of Clemson University)


The entire team will take to the field during the game and be recognized for their first-place overall National title with the following announcement:


“These 35 Civil and Environmental Engineering students brought home the 2012 Steel Bridge National Championship this past May, beating out 47 other schools for the championship. Their bridge named ApolCALypse was built at 1/10 scale, was 22.5 feet long, weighed 131 lbs. and was able to hold 2500 lbs. This is Berkeley’s second Steel Bridge National Championship since the competition began in 1992. To learn more about the great work being done in the College of Engineering, visit Let’s give a warm round of applause to the Steel Bridge National Champions!”


This year’s National Student Steel Bridge Competition was held over Memorial Day weekend at Clemson University. Coming in second and third place overall were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


More information about the competition can be found in our previous news post, here, or by visiting You can find photos from this year’s event on Clemson University’s Flickr page at

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John Wynne Barton, Jr., Dies at 85
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM.

john-barton-jr.JPGJohn Wynne Barton, Jr., 85, died peacefully at home on August 20, 2012. A longtime representative of the structural steel industry, he served on the AISC Board of Directors from 1969 to 1972 and was a former president of the Southern Structural Steel Board of Trade.


Born September 29, 1926, Barton spent two years in the U.S. Navy during World War II and went on to graduate from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Engineering degree. He was president of McMurray Structural Steel Company in Nashville until he sold the company to Ingalls Iron Works in Birmingham, Ala., in the mid-1970s.


He was active in the real estate business for a brief time and subsequently became a general contractor, operating in partnership with his son-in-law at the Barton-Riley Company until his retirement. He was also a former member and president of the Exchange Club of Nashville.


Barton is survived by his wife of almost 62 years, Carolyn Price Morrison Barton, one daughter and one son and five grandchildren.

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New Document Management System
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 27, 2012 at 5:41 PM.

Innovating Solutions LLC, an IT consulting and mobile app development company for iOS, Android and Windows smartphones introduces Innodocx, a new document management system that provides users with a secure, private Web cloud and the ability to remotely access and share files and shop drawings with the use of mobile apps and Web browsers.


Innodocx users can access their server’s existing file management structure to work with and share files remotely through Web browsers on laptop computers, tablets and mobile phones. The system also provides a centralized file repository with an administrator control point, so only users that have been granted access can view the files, and only the system administrator can add or modify files on the server.


a183ed_8075ae33713ff7e24032aa6cccf31886_srz_540_300_75_22_050_120_000_png_srz.pngFor more information about Innodocx, visit


Photo: Construction professionals can mark up drawings on the Innodocx’s iPhone/iPad app and email them from within the app.

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Sheel Shots: Happy 85th Anniversary, Adams St. Bridge!
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 24, 2012 at 5:00 PM.


Opened on August 26, 1927, Chicago’s Adams St. Bridge carries thousands of pedestrians and vehicles daily over the Chicago River. This historic deck truss bridge is also raised about 40 times annually to accommodate the spring and fall migrations of sail boats to and from Lake Michigan. Photo: Courtesy of


This Sunday marks 85 years of service for Chicago’s Adams St. Bridge. Opened on August 26, 1927, the dedication of the new fixed trunnion bascule bridge was cause for celebration. The bridge had been under construction since 1923 and replaced the last of a series of swing bridges used at this location since about 1869.


“Nearly 1,000 boats and cars joined in a parade from Grant Park preceding the ceremony and a crowd of 5,000 watched the ribbon-clipping and cheered the speeches of Mayor Thompson, Commissioner of Public Works Wolfe and Deputy Commissioner Edward F. Moore.” This was the description printed in the August 27, 1927 edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune.


After the dedication of the bridge, the city’s famous Buckingham Fountain was dedicated in a ceremony that evening.


The Adams Sadmp1-12.jpgt. Bridge was one of 12 downtown bridges built between 1913 and 1930. For bridge design, this era was significantly influenced by the 1909 Plan of Chicago, which included Beaux Arts architecture and the placement of all bridge support below the deck, giving unobstructed views of the city from the bridge. The bridge at Adams St. and its neighbor at Jackson Blvd. are the only two single deck bridges that represented the plan’s “ideal” downtown river bridge.


The key players in the design and construction of the Adams St. Bridge were Donald N. Becker, the design engineer, and Edward H. Bennett, the consulting architect. The Fitzsimmons & Connell Dredge & Dock Co. were responsible for the substructure, and Strobel Steel Construction Co. erected the superstructure.


adams_bridge_steelshot_500.jpgDue to commercial traffic on the river at the time, the bridge was raised approximately 1,500 times in its first year of service. During the mid to late 20th century, the nature of the Chicago River traffic transitioned from heavier commercial traffic to recreational traffic. Today, the bridge’s 40 or so annual bridge lifts accommodate the spring and fall migrations of sail boats to and from Lake Michigan. In total, the bridge has been raised approximately 34,000 times in its 85 years of service.


The Adams St. Bridge eventually became part of Route 66, the storied highway that began at the city’s Michigan Ave./Jackson Blvd. intersection in 1926. When Jackson Blvd. became an eastbound only street in 1955, Adams St. became the westbound section from Michigan Ave. to Ogden Ave. through the Chicago Loop.


The proximity of the bridge to Chicago’s bustling Union Station makes it a busy route for approximately 33,000 pedestrians making the daily trek to and from commuter trains and work. An estimated 9,300 vehicles also cross this bridge daily.


For more information about the Adams St. Bridge, contact Jim Phillips (who provided this commentary) at 312.540.0696 or visit his website. There you’ll find additional photos and videos about the bridge, as well as engineering drawings. At the website’s left-hand column you’ll also find multi-media pages for other Chicago Loop bridges.

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SSPC Accepting 2012-2013 Structure Awards Nominations
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 23, 2012 at 4:49 PM.

The Society for Protective Coatings (SSPC) is accepting nominations for its 2012-2013 Structure Awards. This annual awards program recognizes teams of contractors, designers, end users and coatings manufacturers for excellence on coatings projects. The awards will be presented at the SSPC 2013 Conference at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, January 14-17, 2013.


SSPC seeks nominations for all types of structures, including bridges and industrial or commercial facilities. Awards will be given in various categories and with the exception of the Longevity Award and the Military Coatings Project Award of Excellence, work on the structures must have been completed between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012.


The deadline to submit award nominations is October 15. More information on the awards program and how to submit a nomination can be found on SSPC’s website, (direct link:

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A Topping Out Tree Collection
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 22, 2012 at 4:16 PM.


Editor’s note: One of our readers, Jonathan Hamann, recently sent us his interesting take on Topping Out ceremonies:

For the last 10 years or so, every time I attend the topping out ceremony for one of my projects, I break off a twig from the topping out tree as a souvenir. I now have a sizable collection of these branches hanging in my office. People usually give me a look like I’m crazy as I snap off the branch onsite, but when I tell them what I’m doing, they usually like the idea. People who visit my office typically enjoy it as well.

(Click on the thumbnail images for an enlarged view.)

On a related note, at a project we recently completed here in Augusta, Maine, for the Maine Genertopping-out-collection_2.jpgal Medical Center, the Topping Out tree was dug up from the project site, rode atop the signed beam in the ceremony, and was then re-planted onsite. As we stress the importance of recycling on all of our projects, I think it is only fitting that the topping out tree be treated with the same mindset. All too often I have returned to a site a week after the topping out ceremony to see the tree still tied to the beam, dead and shriveled up. If someone took the time to purchase a new tree, why not plant it? Even in urban areas, I’m sure a local park would love to have a new tree. I hope more people make this effort on future projects.

– Jonathan Hamann, senior project manager, Cives Steel Company, New England Division (an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator)

A video and photos of the topping out ceremony for the Maine General Medical Center are available on the Kennebec Journal website.

Ever wonder where the “topping out” tradition came from? You can read about the origins of the practice of topping out–placing the last piece of structural steel along with a Christmas tree and often an American flag–in the pages of MSC. In the August 1995 issue editor Scott Melnick posed the question in his editorial, and published a distillation of the responses in the October 1995 issue.

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Rules Posted for 2013 Student Steel Bridge Competition
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 21, 2012 at 9:14 AM.

Are you ready for another year of exciting collegiate competition? The 2013 ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition rules are now available on the AISC website. To view the rules and other related competition information, visit

The preliminary round of bridge competition consists of 18 regional events held each year throughout the spring. The 2013 National Competition will take place at the University of Washington in Seattle, May 31 - June 1.

Check out this year’s winners in our previous news post, here.

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Steel Shots: A Floating Bridge Lift
Posted by Tasha Weiss on August 20, 2012 at 2:54 PM.


The Henry G. Gilmerton Bridge in Chesapeake, Va., is about to get wider. The original bascule span is being replaced this September with a vertical lift span, which will be floated into place. Photo: Courtesy of Modjeski and Masters


On September 5, the $135-million Henry G. Gilmerton bridge replacement project will reach a major milestone when the lift span is floated into place. Shortly thereafter, the new steel bridge will become fully operational to both highway and waterway traffic. The replacement of the original bascule span with the vertical lift span is considered the “crown jewel” for a project that has been ongoing for nearly 15 years.


The new Gilmerton Bridge will measure 1,908 ft long and 85 ft wide and accommodate up to six lanes of traffic, expanded from four. The 250-ft-long lift span will provide a 135-ft vertical clearance for ocean-going vessels. The replacement project had to be carefully executed so as not to impact the structure or foundation of a nearby rail bridge, which is about 30 ft from the Gilmerton bridge.


The project began in 1998 and was originated to ease traffic congestion, accommodate future highway expansion and provide clearance for today’s modern maritime ships. Following the replacement of the lift span, PCL, the project contractor, will finalize the approach for the new bridge before it is expected to reach completion in winter 2014.


“Floating in the bridge’s lift span is like reaching the summit of an important project that has been underway for many years,” said Lance Borden, senior associate at Modjeski and Masters. “A project of this complexity requires close collaboration with the contractor and bridge owner to ensure it is executed as seamlessly as possible. We are honored to be part of the Gilmerton Bridge replacement project, which is vital to future growth of the region.”


The original Gilmerton Bridge, owned by the City of Chesapeake, is part of the Military Highway, a four-lane roadway built in the South Hampton Roads region of eastern Virginia during World War II. The bridge was completed during that time and today carries approximately 35,000 motorists daily via U.S. Highway 13 and U.S. Highway 460.

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