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Thornton Tomasetti Expands Sustainability Practice
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 19, 2012 at 12:31 PM.


From left: Wolfgang Werner, Gunnar Hubbard and Robert DeScenza, president of Thornton Tomasetti.

Fore Solutions
, a Portland, Me.-based green building consulting firm, has been acquired by the international engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti. The acquisition will allow Thornton Tomasetti to significantly expand its sustainability consulting services and integrate green objectives across all its practices. Gunnar Hubbard, AIA, LEED AP BD+C ID+C, Fore Solution’s principal and founder has become a principal at Thornton Tomasetti and will head its new Building Sustainability practice. Wolfgang Werner, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, formerly director of sustainability, becomes a vice president and head of the practice’s East U.S. region.


For more information, view Thornton Tomasetti’s press release at

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James Fisher Kicks Off AISC 2012 Webinars
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 18, 2012 at 5:03 PM.

AISC’s live webinars are back! This year’s spring series begins on Thursday, February 2 with a presentation by James M. Fisher, P.E., Ph.D., vice president of Computerized Structural Design, Milwaukee, Wis., on Field Problems, Solutions, and Prevention. The 1.5-hour session begins at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time.


Registration is by site, so any number of people within your office or organization can attend. The registration fee ($185 for AISC members, $285 for non-members, $155 for students and educators) includes:

  • Access to a PDF file of the presentation slides prior to the live webinar.
  • CEU/PDH certificates for all attendees upon completion (0.15 CEU / 1.5 PDH).
  • Complete instructions for accessing the live webinar.


For more information about the webinar and to register now, click here.


To learn more about AISC’s live webinars, visit


If you missed last September’s live online presentation on “Practical Steel Metallurgy for the Structural Steel User,” presented by Doug Rees-Evans of Steel Dynamics, Inc., a recording of the webinar (includes a synchronization of the speaker’s voice along with the PowerPoint presentation) is still available for free online viewing on AISC’s website at The presentation was originally given on SteelDay 2011 when it attracted a webinar attendance of nearly 1,400 individual connections. Upon completing the webinar, you can earn CEUs/PDHs by passing an online quiz available at no charge through the AISC Bookstore at

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An Engineer’s Alphabet
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM.

book-cover.jpgEngineers are known to be masters of technical rigor, but according to engineering historian and author Henry Petroski, they cannot easily be leaders beyond this sphere without also having a sense of their own profession’s culture and traditions. His latest book, An Engineer’s Alphabet: Gleanings from the Softer Side of a Profession, calls attention to the importance of putting the quantitative engineer in touch with qualitative language and thought, emphasizing the importance of both sides of the brain to creative engineering.


In this abecedarian tome, Petroski presents a collection of anecdotes and factual entries covering various topics and concepts related to the practice and history of the engineering profession.


View sample pages and an Index from An Engineer’s Alphabet on at


If you’re unfamiliar with Petroski, you can learn more about his industry accomplishments and the dozen other books he has written on Wikipedia at

Note: A January 16 announcement on Wikipedia says the English-language Wikipedia will be blacked out for 24 hours, worldwide, beginning at 05:00 UTC on Wednesday, January 18. Learn more about the planned protest at

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Mid-Continent Tower Honored by AIA
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 16, 2012 at 2:45 PM.

The Mid-Continent Tower, a landmark 36-story office building in downtown Tulsa, Okla., has received the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) 25 Year Award. The organization’s Eastern Oklahoma Chapter recently presented the award to the Tulsa office of Dewberry (then known as HTB), which designed the distinctive tower for then-owner Reading & Bates in the early 1980s.


untitled-1_construction_msc_1983.jpgOne of the most challenging design and construction projects in the nation at the time, the Mid-Continent Tower was built adjacent to and above the historic 16-story Mid-Continent Building, also known as the Cosden Building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Reading & Bates, an energy resources company, owned the circa-1918 building and sought to expand the property to serve as its headquarters.


Because the existing building’s structural system would not support additional weight, Dewberry’s design concept called for constructing the tower’s base adjacent to the building to its full height, and then cantilevering over the building for an additional 20 stories. In all, 330,000 sq. ft were added to the original 90,000-sq.-ft building, aided by a series of five massive steel trusses, each weighing 230 tons.


“This was a unique project in my career,” says Vic Thompson, who designed the project and has been with the Tulsa office of Dewberry for 42 years. “There has never been another like it, before or since.”


You can read more about Thompson’s experience working on the project and learn where he found inspiration for his design in his blog post on Dewberry’s website at (Part 2 of his post is also available at


And guess what! We even have an article available in our MSC back issue archives from when the project was being built. You can read and download the feature, “Mid-Continent Tower: Key to Tudor-Gothic Revival,” on pages 5-10 in the PDF version of the 1983 Q4 edition.

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Steel Shots: Oh My - Imagine That!
Posted by Tom Klemens on January 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM.


Planters equipped with an automatic watering system are designed to provide lush foliage even on the steel constructions of the Machines of the Isle of Nantes. Click here for a view from above, or click here for a larger version of this image. Photos: Martin Anderson. 


On a recent European trip, AISC staffer Martin Anderson somehow convinced the rest of his group to take a side trip to Nantes in western France. Skeptical? Yes, every one of them. But delighted as well to find the Machines of the Isle of Nantes.


Here’s the short version: it’s an artistic project and tourist attraction with its roots in an old shipyard. You know about steel – it’s both recyclable and reusable – and lots of it is being reused here.


According to the official website,, the project “is a blend of the invented worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and the industrial history of Nantes, on this exceptional site of the former shipyards.”


Although the number of attractions continues to grow, the Machines of the Isle of Nantes is perhaps best known for its mechanical elephant that carries up 49 passengers on a 45-minute stroll around the park. Made of 45 tons of steel and wood, the Great Elephant stands 12 meters high and was inspired by a story by Jules Verne, who coincidentally was born in Nantes a little more than a century ago.


But we’ve said enough. Watch the elephant for yourself in this YouTube video. It’s only one of many available, but we like it because it shows the view from onboard the elephant as well as from the ground.


Here’s another video that gives more background and overview, including a few glimpses of the construction.


You can see additional photos from the Isle in this Flickr album.



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Early Registration Savings on AISC Spring Seminars
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 12, 2012 at 3:30 PM.

No matter what you’re designing in steel, AISC’s Louis F. Geschwindner Seminar Series is a great opportunity for structural engineers and designers to enhance their professional knowledge while learning from top industry experts. Be sure to register for spring seminars at by February 7 to receive a $50 discount!


With two exciting seminar topics and two Steel Camp events happening in more than 30 cities around the U.S. from February to July, there’s bound to be one that’s right for you:


  • Steel Camp (Covers 4 topics in 2 days)
    Earn 15 PDHs

Visit to search AISC’s spring seminars by state. For more information on each seminar, registration details and pricing, visit

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Fairy Tale Architecture
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 11, 2012 at 2:49 PM.

You may have seen the magic of fairy tales come to life in picture books and on the big screen - but if you’re an engineer or architect, you might still be imagining how the enchanting homes of your beloved characters came to be. Firms Bernheimer Architecture, Leven Betts, and Guy Nordenson and Associates have selected favorite tales and produced design works for a three-part article series in the Design Observer, titled “House on Chicken Feet,” exploring the intimate relationship between the domestic structures of fairy tales and the imaginative realm of architecture. You’ll want to take a break from reality to check these out.bernheimer-baba-yaga-6_525.jpg


Part 1: Baba Yaga

Be sure to check out the rotational circumference of Baba Yaga’s spinning house on chicken legs and the witch’s flight path to Vladivostok. View the image slide show with commentary at



Part 2: Jack and the Beanstalk



You can see the intricacies of the mighty beanstalk leading up to the sky to the giant’s house. View the image slide show with commentary at



Part 3: Rapunzel

Don’t miss such details as the thorn bushes surrounding the tower where Rapunzel is held captive, which “shall be large enough to prevent climbing by infatuated princes”. View the image slide show with commentary at








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Today’s Career Opportunities
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM.

Despite the recession, a host of industries including construction, automotive, and shipbuilding require skilled welders and offer more career opportunities than you may think. An educational video from, a web-based video series and interactive network designed to connect students and professionals with careers in advanced technology, explores why welding positions will remain in demand for the long term with new industry advancements, technologies and processes.


Watch the three-minute video, with commentary by Monica Pfarr from the American Welding Society, at


Another resource for young people who are interested in discovering various engineering and technology career opportunities is Engineers Week, February 19-25, 2012. The national event offers various programs for students, which you can learn about on the event website at

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Do You Know Your Chicago Bridges?
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 9, 2012 at 2:27 PM.

If you live in the “Windy City” or frequent the area, you’ve likely seen at least a few of the 18 bridges located in the Chicago Loop. But how well do you know these downtown landmarks? (Which are all steel, by the way) has launched a weekly trivia contest for all who wish to test their Chicago bridge knowledge.


The first trivia challenge, located on the contest webpage at, is to match six individual photographs (mobile friendly versions are also available) of Chicago Loop bridges with their correct names. (HINT: the names of all 18 Chicago Loop bridges can be found in the left-hand column of the page under “Bridges”) Once you’ve identified the names of all six photographed bridges, submit your answers to In your entry email, be sure to include which prize you’d like to win — visit the contest webpage to see all prize options.


Three winners will be chosen at random from the correct answers received. The entry deadline for this challenge is noon Central Time this Saturday, January 14. To view all contest details, visit

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Steel Shots: Not Your Father’s Surveying Tool
Posted by Tasha Weiss on January 6, 2012 at 3:26 PM.


A registered “point cloud” image of Minnesota’s historic Bridge 5721 consisting of 13 million data points. Photo: O.N.E.


Lack of original design drawings creates a challenge for the rehabilitation of any century-old bridge, and predictably no 1870s plans were available for Bridge 5721 near Stillwater, Minn. To obtain the baseline data needed to evaluate the bridge and engineer its rehabilitation, surveyors for MnDOT scanned the bridge with a Leica laser scanner prior to disassembly.


The 3D laser scanner collects data by firing a laser 50,000 or more times per second and monitoring the reflections. The equipment can concurrently take associated photographs of structures. To assemble the scan data for the full bridge, MnDOT surveyors set up the scanner in nine different locations. After two and a half days of scanning, they used software to stitch together the data to create a registered “point cloud” consisting of 13 million points, each with x, y and z coordinates.


A point cloud is a geometrically correct digital representation of the bridge that can be viewed from any angle. This detailed representation of the bridge can be readily used for engineering work, as well as for historical records.


“Laser scanning dramatically cut the amount of field time required to collect geometric data for the rehabilitation project,” said Steve Olson, president of Olson & Nesvold Engineers (O.N.E.). “It also permitted the quick collection of a great deal more information than using conventional surveying methods.”


Read more about this project and the construction market’s recent adaption of laser scanning technology in the January issue of MSC, available now. (The feature is titled “Back on the Job”.)

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