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Steel Shots: First B2 Module Hoisted
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 20, 2013 at 10:08 AM.


The first steel-framed modular unit (weighing 15 tons) for Brooklyn’s B2 high-rise residential tower is hoisted into place. The B2 tower sits next to the steel-framed Barclays Center, one of this year’s AISC IDEAS2 Awards winners, at Atlantic Yards. Photo: FCS Modular


The first steel-framed modular units of Brooklyn’s B2 tower — planned to be the tallest modular building in the world when it’s completed late next year — were hoisted into place last week.


The building schedule called for the placement of three adjacent “mods,” which together will compose a single apartment. The mods were built by union labor affiliated with the New York Building and Construction Trade Council, BCTC. Mods are built fully assembled, including kitchens, bathrooms and appliances, then trucked to the construction site and hoisted by crane and bolted into place.


At 32 stories, B2 will be the world’s tallest modular high-rise building and is one of 15 buildings planned at the $4.9 billion, 22-acre Atlantic Yards site. The structure will be comprised of 4,000 sq. ft of retail space as well as 362 residential units of which almost 50% will be priced as affordable housing for low-to-middle-income residents.


Banker Steel (an AISC member/AISC certified fabricator), the steel fabricator for the project, expanded one if its Lynchburg, Va. facilities earlier this year by an additional 45,000 sq. ft to create a purpose-built workshop solely dedicated to the fabrication of these modules. It is estimated that B2 will weigh almost half as much as a traditional steel building, cost 30% less to build and take significantly less time to complete, according to Banker Steel. In addition to requiring less labor, material and erection time, this process will be safer, cause minimal disruption to the surrounding neighborhoods during construction and be environmentally friendly — estimated to reduce construction-site waste by as much as 90%.

“The immense precision and detail that we’ve put into engineering and building these modules has created a universal concept that will allow high-rise buildings to be completed in a time frame unrealized by conventional methods,” said Don Banker, CEO and owner of Banker Steel. “This design concept, exemplified by the B2 Towers, will ultimately change how we view and build residential and commercial buildings.”


B2 was designed by SHoP Architects and Arup. FCRC and Skanska USA have partnered to create a new company called FC + Skanska Modular, LLC to build the modular components in a new 100,000 sq.-ft space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.


You can watch a video (courtesy of FCS Modular) of the first steel-framed modular unit being hoisted into place at To learn more about the project, visit AISC’s B2 webpage at

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William M. Heenan, Jr., Former President of SRI, Dies
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 19, 2013 at 7:33 PM.

wmh004_sitn.jpgWilliam M. Heenan, Jr., former president of the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) and 2013 recipient of the Steel Market Development Institute’s (SMDI) Lifetime Achievement Award, died earlier this month at the age of 65.


Thomas J. Gibson, president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), of which SRI and SMDI are both business units, issued the following statement earlier this month on Heenan’s death:


“On behalf of the AISI family and our member companies, we were deeply saddened to hear of Bill’s passing. Bill was a tireless and devoted leader in the steel industry– building SRI from the ground up and establishing steel as the world’s most recycled material. We are forever grateful for the lasting impact Bill had on our industry and send our deepest sympathy to his family.”


Lawrence W. Kavanagh, president of SMDI and longtime colleague of Heenan’s, said, “Beyond work, Bill was a generous and devoted family man. He set an example for all of us by crediting every success he had to his family.”


Heenan, who had retired in recent years to Daufuskie Island, S.C., was president of SRI from 1990-2010. Prior to joining SRI, Heenan was general manager of tin mill products for the United States Steel Corp., a position to which he was appointed in 1988. He was a lifetime board member of the National Recycling Coalition, served as a board member of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., and was co-chairperson of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful.


Heenan is survived by Barbara, his wife of 43 years; two sons, Sean and Brian; and a daughter, Becky.

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NASCC: The Steel Conference Presents Special Seismic Sessions
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 19, 2013 at 2:44 PM.

Twenty years ago the Northridge Earthquake shook California and the results surprised designers throughout the U.S. AISC and the steel industry is presenting a special series of sessions at the 2014 NASCC: The Steel Conference examining the lessons learned and the state-of-the-art in seismic design.


The special sessions kick off on Wednesday, March 26 with presentations on what happened in Northridge and the development of the SAC Steel Project, presented by FEMA Technical Advisor Mike Mahoney and the University of California at Berkeley’s Steve Mahin. Other presentations during the three-day conference include:


  • The Moment Connection Details We Left Behind (and Why) — Mike Engelhardt, University of Texas at Austin
  • The Changes to Design Practice — Tom Sabol, Englekirk and Sabol
  • Revisiting W1a Indications — Duane Miller, The Lincoln Electric Company
  • Failure Analysis of Pre-Northridge Connections - Lessons Learned — John Barsom, Barsom Consulting
  • Japan’s Experience in Kobe — Masayoshi Nakashima, Kyoto University
  • The Changes that Resulted in Research — Chia-Ming Uang, University of California at San Diego
  • AISC 341 Then and Now — Jim Malley, Degenkolb Associates
  • AISC 358: Prequalified Moment Connections — Ron Hamburger, Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger
  • The Changes in Materials and Inspection — Tom Schlafly, AISC
  • The Changes in Fabrication and Erection — Bob Hazleton, Herrick Corp.
  • Column Base and Splice Details — Amit Kanvinde, University of California, Davis
  • Conventional Braced Frames — Charles Roeder, University of Washington
  • Buckling-Restrained Braced Frames — Rafael Sabelli, Walter P Moore
  • Shear Walls — Michel Bruneau, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Systems that Mix Steel and Concrete (Beyond Composite Design) — Jerry Hajjar, Northeastern University
  • System Reliability — Greg Deierlein, Stanford University
  • ASCE 41, John Hooper, Magnusson Klemencic Associates


In addition to the special seismic presentations, NASCC: The Steel Conference offers more than 100 technical sessions and 200 exhibition booths. The Steel Conference is widely recognized as the place for engineers, fabricators, detailers and erectors to learn about structural steel design and construction, to interact with their peers and to see the latest products for steel buildings and bridges. Each year more than 3,500 professionals gather. It’s a once-a-year opportunity to learn the latest techniques, see the most innovative products and network with your peers and clients. One low registration fee gains you admittance to all technical sessions (including NASCC: The Steel Conference, the Annual Stability Conference, the World Steel Bridge Symposium, the Technology in Steel Conference, and the T.R. Higgins Lecture).


The Steel Conference will be held March 26-28 in Toronto. For full information or to register, visit Registration is currently $340 but increases $10 each week until the conference, so don’t delay!






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AISC-Member Fabricators to Fabricate Steel for Tappan Zee Bridge
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 18, 2013 at 5:48 PM.

tappan-zee-bridge-rendering.jpgHigh Steel Structures Inc. (an AISC/NSBA member and AISC certified fabricator) of Lancaster, Pa., and Hirschfeld Industries (an AISC/NSBA member and AISC certified fabricator), LLP of San Angelo, Texas, have each been awarded a contract to fabricate structural steel for the approach spans of New York’s new Tappan Zee Bridge. The project is the largest design-build transportation project to date in the U.S. and one of the largest construction contracts in New York State history. (Rendering by Tappan Zee Constructors LLC and HDR Engineering Inc.)


After proposals were submitted in mid-2012, the New York State Thruway Authority awarded a $3.142 billion contract to design and build the project to Tappan Zee Constructors (TZC), a consortium including Fluor Enterprises, Inc., American Bridge Company, Granite Construction Northeast, Inc., and Traylor Bros., Inc. The design team working with Tappan Zee Constructors is HDR, Buckland & Taylor, URS, and GZA.


Shortly after the project was advertised, High Steel Structures and Hirschfeld Industries teamed together to bid the project due to the massive size and scope of the steel production.


Fluor Enterprises is TZC’s lead contractor for sourcing the structural steel. The project was divided into two steel packages: one for the approach steel, totaling nearly 100,000 tons; and another for the main span cable stay steel, totaling approximately 10,000 tons. Each fabricator will produce approximately half of the steel under separate contracts and will provide portions of both the eastbound and westbound approach spans. The main span steel package has yet to be bid.


Steel deliveries are set to begin in October of 2014 and will continue into the first quarter of 2017. High Performance Steel (HPS) plate steel is being employed in the design. The primary material supplier for the project is ArcelorMittal USA.


“The award of the Tappan Zee structural steel contract to the team of fabricators High Steel Structures Inc. and Hirschfeld Industries, with material supply by ArcelorMittal USA, validates the fact that the United States steel construction industry has the capacity, capability, and collaborative spirit to meet our nation’s infrastructure needs,” stated AISC President Roger Ferch.


“We answered our industry’s call for leadership,” Hirschfeld’s Executive Vice President, John O’Quinn said. “Together we were able to provide the owner and design-build team with all the tangibles a project of this magnitude required, while mitigating their risks. The largest design-build bridge in U.S. history will utilize the two largest bridge fabricators in the U.S. — it just makes sense.”


High Steel Structures President Brian LaBorde said, “We are looking forward to working on this historic project, which demonstrates that fabricators in the United States have the capacity and capability to fabricate and deliver the massive quantity of structural steel required for a project of this size — a win for ‘Buy America.’


Located north of New York City, the new Tappan Zee Bridge will carry the Thruway, Interstate 87, and Interstate 287 over the Hudson River between South Nyack, Rockland County, New York and Tarrytown, Westchester County, New York. According to the Thruway Authority, the first span of the new twin-span bridge is scheduled to open in 2016, and the new bridge should be complete in 2018. The bridge will be designed and constructed to last 100 years without major structural maintenance.


In separate news, High Industries Inc., the holding company for High Steel Structures, recently announced the formation of High Structural Erectors LLC, a new company that combines the field operations of High Steel Structures and High Concrete Group LLC and provides erection services to the infrastructure, commercial, institutional and industrial markets. The company began formal operations as a High Industries affiliate in October.

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AISC Board Elects New Chair and Vice Chair
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 17, 2013 at 2:29 PM.

The AISC Board of Directors elected a new Chair and Vice Chair this fall during its Annual Meeting of the Members of the Institute in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Jeffrey E. Dave, P.E., president and CEO of Dave Steel Company, Inc., Asheville, N.C., succeeds William B. Bourne III, president and CEO of Universal Steel, Inc., Lithonia, Ga., as chair of the 27-member board. James G. Thompson, CEO of Palmer Steel Supplies, Inc., McAllen, Texas, is the board’s new vice chair. Both positions carry a two-year term.  


“As past chair, I am very excited about the future of AISC,” said Bourne. “The Board has chosen two exceptional people to lead our industry over the next four years. Our next chair, Jeff Dave, is a proven volunteer, an AISC board member since 2003, and a successful businessman. He has led his company, Dave Steel, for more than 20 years and is an important part of the Virginia Carolinas Structural Steel Fabricators Association. Jeff will have great back-up with vice chair Jim Thompson. Jim has also successfully led his company, Palmer Steel Supplies, for more than 20 years and has served as a board member since 2007. Congratulations and thank you to both Jeff Dave and Jim Thompson.”


jeff-dave_sitn.jpgDave has worked in all areas of the steel fabrication business since 1985. During the past 20 years, he’s played an instrumental role in the timing and implementation of significant process and technology changes at AISC-member fabricator Dave Steel Company, a structural steel fabricator since 1929 with AISC certified facilities in Asheville, N.C., and Chesnee, S.C., and an engineering office in Cincinnati. He was COO of the company from 1992 to 2004, and since then has served as president and CEO.


“Our industry will continue to experience quick advancements in the opportunities to use models throughout the design process, and use models throughout the fabrication process,” commented Dave on his new position. “As we push the edge of this technology, and its use on steel construction projects, it will be very important for all to exercise due diligence in transitioning from research - to case studies - to normal use and implementation on projects. One of my goals during my tenure as Chair is to make sure this transition process occurs in a manner that assures we continue to achieve our mission of increasing the market share of steel by making structural steel the material of choice on construction projects.”


Dave graduated from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. In his early career he worked for several years at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va. He also worked for a structural engineering firm on contract at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va., and an engineering firm in Raleigh, N.C. He’s remained very active with various industry boards and associations as well as several local community boards. Since 1989 he’s served on the Board of Directors of the Virginia Carolinas Structural Steel Fabricators Association, including a term as president. He joined the AISC Board in 2003 and since has served three years as chair of the Certification Committee and a two-year term as vice chair. Dave’s grandfather, Joseph Dave, served on the AISC Board from 1959-1965, as well as his uncle, Bernard Dave, from 1970-1976.


jim-thompson.jpgThompson has more than 30 years of experience in steel fabrication and erection. His expertise includes sales, estimating, production management, operations management and administration management. He joined Palmer Steel Supplies, an AISC-member fabricator and AISC certified fabricator, as a management trainee and promptly ascended to general manager in 1975. That same year he was promoted to vice president and in 1984 he achieved the office of president. He currently serves as CEO after passing on the presidency of the company to his son, Palmer, who is now the third generation of family management.


He grew up in numerous locations in the U.S. and Europe and in 1969 he graduated from Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. While at TCU he was enrolled in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and at graduation was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He immediately entered pilot training and after 53 weeks earned his wings. He served on active duty for the next four years as an instructor pilot in Mississippi and Texas. Following his departure from the USAF, he moved to McAllen, Texas, and began his career at Palmer Steel Supplies.


Thompson joined the AISC Board in 2007 and has also been active on several local community boards.


View a list of all of the AISC Officers and Board of Directors.

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Steel Shots: Double-Duty
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 16, 2013 at 10:48 AM.

Proving that innovative engineering (and steel) can overcome specific weight, the above photo shows the Polytechnic Institute of New York University’s student steel bridge from this year’s ASCE/AISC Student Steel Bridge Competition supporting the university’s student concrete canoe from this year’s ASCE Concrete Canoe Competition. The Student Steel Bridge Competition challenges student engineers from across North America to build their own small-scale pre-designed and fabricated steel bridges and tests the load-bearing capacity of the actual bridges built to this year’s specifications. (Click on the photo for a close-up view of the steel bridge fabrication, performed by the students.) Photo: AISC



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Larger than Life
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 13, 2013 at 2:01 PM.

The gigantic struggle of maintaining—cleaning, painting and repairing—the largest structures on earth is an awesome one, and it deserves recognition. That’s the goal of a collection of photos via Gizmodo titled “21 Views of Workers Struggling with Megastructures.”


Click on the link to view awe-inspiring images of these astonishing structures (many of which are steel!) and the workers who keep them looking good.

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Live AISC Effective Design of Steel Buildings Webinar Dec. 18
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 12, 2013 at 4:29 PM.

AISC will host a live webinar next Wednesday, December 18, on “Effective Design of Steel Buildings.”


Effective design encompasses not only the calculation of loads and sizing members, but also considers harmonizing the design with the fabrication and erection of the structure. Additionally, the design must consider both the work that precedes the steel structure and the work that follows after the structure is in place; this comprehensive design approach is central to a well-crafted structure.


This live webinar will address the keys to an effective design and include an in-depth look at tolerances, important connection design considerations and how to incorporate them into your design.


The 1.5-hour webinar will begin at the following times, relative to time zone:
10:30 a.m. PST
11:30 a.m. MST
12:30 p.m. CST
1:30 p.m. EST
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.


Register for the live webinar.  
To learn more about AISC webinars, visit

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Michigan Tech Scientists Build 3D Metal Printer
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 11, 2013 at 6:02 PM.

michigan-tech_3d-metal-printer.jpgUntil now, 3D printing has been a polymer affair, with most using the machines to make all manner of plastic consumer goods, from tent stakes to chess sets. However, a new 3D printer, developed by Michigan Technological University’s Joshua Pearce and his team, can create objects out of steel. The detailed plans, software and firmware are all freely available and open-source, meaning anyone can use them to make their own metal 3D printer. (The photo at left shows Michigan Tech’s open-source 3D metal printer in action. Photo: Chenlong Zhang)


Pearce is the first to admit that his new printer is a work in progress. So far, the products he and his team have produced are no more intricate than a sprocket. But that’s because the technology is so raw. “Similar to the incredible churn in innovation witnessed with open-sourcing of the first RepRap plastic 3D printers, I anticipate rapid progress when the maker community gets their hands on it,” said Pearce, an associate professor of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. “Within a month, somebody will make one that’s better than ours, I guarantee it.”


Using under $1,500 worth of materials, including a small commercial MIG welder and an open-source microcontroller, Pearce’s team built a 3D metal printer that can lay down thin layers of steel to form complex geometric objects. Commercial metal printers are available, but they cost over half a million dollars.


His make-it-yourself metal printer is less expensive than off-the-shelf commercial plastic 3D printers and is affordable enough for home use, he said. However, because of safety concerns, Pearce suggests that for now it would be better off in the hands of a shop, garage or skilled DIYer, since it requires more safety gear and fire protection equipment than the typical plastic 3D printer.


In previous work, his group has already shown that making products at home with a 3D printer is cheaper for the average American and that printing goods at home is greener than buying commercial goods.


In particular, expanded 3D printing would benefit people in the developing world, who have limited access to manufactured goods, and researchers, who can radically cut the cost of scientific equipment to further their science, said Pearce. “Small and medium-sized enterprises would be able to build parts and equipment quickly and easily using downloadable, free and open-source designs, which could revolutionize the economy for the benefit of the many.”


“I really don’t know if we are mature enough to handle it,” he added cautiously, “but I think that with open-source approach, we are within reach of a Star Trek-like, post-scarcity society, in which ‘replicators’ can create a vast array of objects on demand, resulting in wealth for everyone at very little cost. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to make almost anything.”


The work is described in “A Low-Cost, Open-Source Metal 3-D Printer,” to be published in IEEE Access (DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2013.2293018). The coauthors in the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Lab are Gerald C. Anzalone, a lab supervisor and research scientist in Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Chenlong Zhang and Bas Wijnen, Ph.D. candidates in materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech; Paul Sanders, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering; and Pearce.

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Construction Spending Spikes to Four-Year Peak
Posted by Tasha Weiss on December 9, 2013 at 5:49 PM.

An unusual surge in public construction in October pushed total construction spending to its highest level since May 2009 despite a dip in both private residential and nonresidential activity, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials urged lawmakers in Washington to make water and surface transportation investment a top federal priority.


“Nearly every category of public construction increased in October, according to the preliminary Census figures, although for the first 10 months of 2013 combined, public spending continues to lag the 2012 year-to-date total,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “Meanwhile, residential spending slipped for the month but still showed strong year-to-date gains, and nonresidential spending remained stuck in neutral.”


Construction put in place in October totaled $908 billion, 0.8% higher than in September. But figures for August and July were revised down below levels that initially exceeded the current October estimate. The total for the first 10 months of 2013 was 5.0% above the year-to-date mark for the same months in 2012.


Public construction spending jumped 3.9% for the month but trailed the 2012 year-to-date total by 2.8%. The two largest public components were mixed: highway and street construction increased 0.6% in October and 0.3% year-to-date, while educational construction leaped 8.5% for the month but fell 8.5% year-to-date, Simonson said.


Private residential spending slid 0.6% for the month but still climbed 17% year-to-date. New single-family construction decreased 0.6% in October but soared 30% in the first 10 months of 2013 compared with 2012. New multifamily spending advanced 2.2% in October and 46% year-to-date.


Private nonresidential spending edged down 0.5% for the month and up 0.8% year-to-date, Simonson observed. The largest private nonresidential category, power—including oil and gas as well as electricity—plunged 5.7% and 5.8% over the two time periods. But the next three niches in size—manufacturing, commercial (retail, warehouse and farm), and office—rose for the month and year-to-date.


“Construction will likely display varied patterns in the next several months,” Simonson said. “Multi-family construction will keep burgeoning but single-family homebuilding may stall. Private nonresidential spending should benefit from more power, energy and manufacturing work. Public construction remains threatened.”


Association officials said Congress and the administration should keep public construction from returning to its recent slump by quickly completing Water Resources Development legislation that has already passed both houses and passing a new surface transportation bill next year that funds repairs to deteriorating highway, bridge and transit infrastructure. They added that any new transportation bill must include provisions to adequately fund the nearly depleted federal Highway Trust Fund.


“If Congress can act in a bipartisan way on transportation funding as it did on the Water Resources bill, it can avoid a cliff-like drop in highway spending,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer.

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