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AIA Finds New Leading Indicator in Construction Research
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 30, 2014 at 12:02 PM.

designing-construction-future.jpgBy measuring the movement of design contracts in the monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is now able to trace the path of resources into the design and construction industry from the earliest conceptualization until it results in finished projects. This new indicator is being spotlighted in an AIA economic research white paper, Designing the Construction Future.


“We have been tracking new project inquiries – bids, general solicitations, interview invitations – which tend to be rather subjective, so we began looking for a more precise way of estimating future levels of billings activity at architecture firms,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Ph.D., Hon. AIA. “We determined that the most accurate predictor of future design workloads is the monthly change in the volume of new design contracts.”


Design contracts are the agreements between the client and architecture firm on the scope of, and compensation for, new design projects. Similar to how construction contract awards act as a leading indicator of future construction spending, design contracts are expected to provide a comparable glimpse of future billings and design activity. Trends in the dollar volume of design contracts end up filling an important gap between trends in project inquiries and actual design billings.


The AIA began collecting data on design contracts in October 2010 and with over three years of data there is enough information to seasonally adjust the index. Preliminary analysis suggests that a change in firm billings follows a change in design contacts by approximately six months.

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Live K-factors Webinar May 8
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 28, 2014 at 5:26 PM.

So you want to use K-factors? AISC will host a live webinar next Thursday, May 8, which will detail the Effective Length Method vs. the Direct Analysis Method.


With the introduction of AISC 360-05, Specification for Structural Steel Buildings, the direct analysis method with K = 1.0 for frames in which sidesway is not prevented was introduced. To understand the significant benefit to the designer in taking K = 1.0, this webinar will discuss what is meant by a rational method of analysis as required by the 1963 Specification, as well as consider the K-factor alignment charts first introduced in the Commentary to the 1963 Specification, and will show comparisons between values obtained through the alignment chart and those obtained through rational methods of analysis. Results from design examples implementing the effective length method, that is K by a rational analysis, and the direct analysis method will be discussed and recommendations on selecting the appropriate method will be given.


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 CEUs/1.5 PDHs) and complete instructions for accessing the live webinar.
To register for the live webinar and to learn about other AISC webinars,

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Steel Structure Trivia: The Unisphere Turns 50
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM.


This month marks the 50th anniversary of the 1964-1965 New York World’s fair, which opened on April 22, 1964 in Flushing Meadows - Corona Park in the borough of Queens, NYC. Commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age, the Unisphere was conceived and constructed as the theme symbol of the fair. Rising 140 ft, the stainless steel structure is the world’s largest geographical globe and weighs 350 tons. It was donated by U.S. Steel and constructed by the American Bridge Company. Photo: J. Miers


Your trivia question is: What do the three large orbit rings of steel encircling the Unisphere represent?



The three large orbit rings of steel encircling the Unisphere represent the tracks of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space; John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth; and Telstar, the first active communications satellite. Congratulations to our winners: Marlon Delos Reyes, qc steel structure inspector for Samsung Saudi Arabia Ltd; and Nep Viajar, civil/structural engineer for Fluor Corp., Houston.


Travel back in time and read an article all about the steel at the World’s fair from the 1964 second quarter edition of Modern Steel Construction.





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Bill McEleney Promoted to NSBA Managing Director
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 24, 2014 at 4:27 PM.

bill-mceleney-headshot_300.jpgBill McEleney, a respected marketing engineer with nearly two decades of experience in the steel bridge community, has been promoted to Managing Director of the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA), a division of AISC. McEleney has worked as a Director and Regional Director with NSBA since 1997 and prior to that spent 10 years as a Regional Engineer with AISC’s Market Development Department.


“Bill has long been respected as the voice for steel bridges in the bridge design and construction communities and brings his extensive experience and knowledge to lead our steel bridge market development and technical initiatives,” said Roger Ferch, NSBA executive director and AISC’s president. “His leadership and vision will have a great impact on the growth of NSBA and collaboration with our members and industry partners on the development, promotion and construction of cost-effective steel bridges in the U.S.”


McEleney was intimately involved in the development of the AASHTO/NSBA Steel Bridge Collaboration and currently serves on its Steering Committee. A joint effort between AASHTO and NSBA, with representation from state DOTs, FHWA, academia and the various industries related to steel bridge design, fabrication and inspection, the Collaboration provides a forum where public and private professionals can work together to improve the quality and value of steel bridges. McEleney also served as a member of the ASCE Steel Connections Committee and the AREMA Steel Bridges Committee 15.


“NSBA is looking forward to building on the foundation established since its inception in 1996,” said McEleney. “We expect to expand the scope of our fundamental technical activities while increasing our direct interaction with members of the bridge design and development community, as well as the general public and their elected representatives.”


To learn more about NSBA, visit You can also follow NSBA on Twitter @SteelBridges.

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New Large-Head Fasteners For Steel Decking
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 23, 2014 at 11:08 AM.

Simpson Strong Tie now is offering the new patent-pending Strong-Drive XL Large-Head Metal Screw. Engineered as a one-for-one screw replacement option for pins and 5/8-in. welds in steel decking, it enables installers to keep the same spacing and substitute screws for pins and welds.
The Strong-Drive XL Large-Head Metal Screws are available in bulk as well as collated for use with the company’s BSD200 Structural Steel-Decking system, which enables stand-up-and-drive fastening.


To learn more about the Strong-Drive fasteners, visit

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AISC Scholarship Applications Due May 1
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 22, 2014 at 10:58 AM.

Full-time juniors, seniors and masters students enrolled in civil, architectural, construction engineering or construction management programs at domestic universities are encouraged to apply for AISC Scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year. More than $95,000 provided by the AISC Education Foundation and various steel industry organizations will be awarded to qualified students to assist in furthering their creativity, interest and proficiency in the fabricated structural steel and engineering design industries.


Visit to learn about the scholarship opportunities available and to apply online. Applications will be accepted until Thursday, May 1.

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Steel Shots: Prize-Winning Bridges
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 18, 2014 at 8:28 AM.

The Shenandoah River Bridge Delta Frame in Jefferson County, W.Va., is a Prize Bridge Major Span award winner in NSBA’s 2014 Prize Bridge awards program. To accommodate increasing travel demands, the West Virginia Division of Highways initiated a project to improve West Virginia 9, including a new bridge across the Shenandoah River. The design team developed a steel delta frame design that delivered significant savings compared to proposals for more traditional designs. The resulting signature shape of the Shenandoah River Bridge is as pleasing to the bottom line as it is to the eye. Photo: Keith Philpott


Every other year, NSBA’s Prize Bridge Awards recognize the most innovative and significant steel bridges constructed in the U.S. and is the highest honor bestowed on steel bridge projects by the U.S. structural steel industry.


This year’s 13 Prize Bridge winners were announced at the combined 2014 World Steel Bridge Symposium and NASCC: The Steel Conference last month in Toronto. The awards were presented to winners in a variety of categories covering an array of project types including: Major Span; Long Span; Medium Span; Short Span; Moveable Span; Reconstructed; and Special Purpose. Recognition was also given to projects that best exemplified Accelerated Bridge Construction and Sustainability.


Winning projects were selected based on innovation, aesthetics, and design and engineering solutions by a jury of engineering and construction professionals.


You can view this year’s winners in NSBA’s press release, and all of them will be featured in the June issue of Modern Steel, with detailed project descriptions and photographs of each.


To learn more about the Prize Bridge Awards, visit

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First World Steel Safety Day Set for April 28
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM.

The World Steel Association (often abbreviated as worldsteel) is set to hold its inaugural Steel Safety Day on Monday, April 28, which coincides with World Day for Safety and Health at Work, held by the International Labour Organisation.


The aim of Steel Safety Day is to raise awareness on the main causes of accidents in the steel industry and increase safety in the workplace. Worldsteel has requested all participating organizations to carry out a two-week audit from April 14-28, focused on identifying the hazards for the main causes of safety incidents within the steel industry and setting up an action plan to manage the hazards and risks for each site.


worldsteelsafetyday.jpgWorldsteel has identified the five most common causes of safety incidents and preventative measures as:


  • Moving machinery – before any machinery is cleaned, serviced or adjusted all sources of energy including gravity must be isolated, locked, or pinned to prevent movement.
  • Falling from heights – training should be provided on how to use protective equipment and work safely at heights.
  • Falling objects – measures must be taken to prevent objects from falling and all people should be evacuated from areas where this remains a possibility.
  • Asphyxiation or gassing – people should be trained to ensure they can test for and eliminate dangerous gasses in confined spaces.
  • Cranes – daily checks must be carried out on cranes before use to maintain reliable operation.


“The steel industry is a highly automated industry and most manual handling, heavy lifting and many operational activities have been automated,” commented Edwin Basson, director general of worldsteel. “This has removed staff’s exposure to many hazards and reduced safety risks in the working environment. However, safety incidents still happen in the industry today and it is our responsibility to make sure that all applicable measures have been put in place to manage the hazards. We believe all injuries and work-related illness can and must be prevented.”


You can find safety information and resources specific to the U.S. structural steel industry on AISC’s website at

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Advance Steel 2015 Now Available
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 15, 2014 at 4:52 PM.

autodesk-advance-steel-2015.jpgAutodesk has released its new Advance Steel 2015 software for steel detailing.


This latest version of Advance Steel provides structural steel detailers, fabricators, engineers and contractors with 3D modeling tools, built on the familiar AutoCAD platform, to help accelerate more accurate detailing of structural elements, steel connections and plates. It is also designed to reduce time to fabrication by automatically generating shop and general arrangement drawings, creating bills of materials and producing CNC files directly from designs.


With interoperability between Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks and other BIM software, Advance Steel also provides a way to connect BIM-based design and construction through fabrication.


Advance Steel 2015 was unveiled at last month’s NASCC: The Steel Conference in Toronto and is the first branded product to come out of Autodesk’s acquisition of key technologies from Graitec.


For additional information on Advance Steel, visit

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Biggest-Ever Bridge Slide
Posted by Tasha Weiss on April 14, 2014 at 5:35 PM.

milton-madison-bridge-slide.jpgThe largest bridge slide ever was completed last week at site of the Milton-Madison Bridge over the Ohio River between Milton, Ky., and Madison, Ind., when the new bridge made its 55-ft journey from temporary piers to permanent, refurbished piers. Spanning nearly a half mile, the truss of the Milton-Madison Bridge is now the longest bridge in North America to be slid laterally into place.


Click here to view a time-lapse video of slide.


The slide began on Wednesday morning but was halted in the late afternoon due to high winds over the Ohio River. Walsh Construction, who is building the bridge, brought in materials from the Louisville-Southern Indiana Ohio River Bridges Project to help deal with windy conditions and assist in synchronizing the slide onto the five permanent piers, which allowed the slide to resume on Thursday morning at about 8 a.m.
“It’s great to see the bridge completed and sitting in its permanent location,” said Dav Kessinger, project manager for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. “This bridge will serve the area well for decades to come.”


“This is truly a historic accomplishment for everyone involved,” added Kevin Hetrick, project manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). “The people of Indiana and Kentucky should be proud to be a part of this amazing engineering feat.”


Polished steel sliding plates were secured on top of the refurbished piers. Steel cables and eight computer-controlled hydraulic jacks were used to pull the bridge through a series of grabs and pulls until the bridge was slid into place. The 30-million-lb new steel truss bridge is 2,428-ft long and 40-ft wide with two 12-ft lanes and 8-ft shoulders – twice as wide as the old bridge, which opened in 1929. A 5-ft-wide cantilevered sidewalk will be added to the structure in the coming months.


Now that the slide is complete, it will take approximately a week to complete inspections, road connections to the bridge and other work before the bridge is reopened to traffic.


The Milton-Madison Bridge Project – a joint effort between the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet – has received several state and national engineering awards for innovation. For more information, visit or follow the project on Twitter.


The article “Move That Bridge” in the February 2012 issue of MSC also describes the project in detail and explains how the decision to use the innovative sliding technique stemmed from the system’s success on the Capilano River Bridge project in Vancouver, Canada.

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