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Steel Structure Trivia: Chicago Bridge Becomes Nonagenarian
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 30, 2012 at 1:36 PM.


Here’s MSC’s November Steel Structure Trivia question! The steel bascule bridge pictured above is one of downtown Chicago’s busiest pedestrian crossings and celebrated its 90th anniversary yesterday, November 29. Your challenge is to name this Chicago Loop bridge. Photo: Courtesy of 


The steel bascule bridge pictured above is Chicago’s West Madison Street Bridge (also known as the Lyric Opera Bridge). Congratulations to our winners: Matthew Lombardo with McPherson Design Group in Norfolk, Va., Dennis M. with Universal Network Development Corp. and Eric Wheeler with Thornton Tomasetti in Chicago.


Opened to traffic on November 29, 1922, Chicago’s West Madison Street Bridge turned 90 last week.


The design process, which began in 1913, was complicated by the proximity to Union Station and the railroad tracks along the west bank. The city decided to complete the bridges at Jackson Boulevard, Lake Street and Monroe Street first. Construction began in 1920.
The key players for the construction and design of the bridge are summarized on the bridge house plaque (shown right). These individuals and organizations were active on most of the bridges built between 1913 and 1930 — the bridge era most influenced by the 1909 Plan of Chicago.


The ideal bridge aesthetics during this period dictated that deck support be placed below street level where possible. This bridge was the first to implement a rail height truss, an innovation that satisfied aesthetic and structural requirements.


While the current bridge celebrates 90 years in existence, the crossing has actually been in use for the past 160 years with three major types of movable bridges. The original crossing was a movable pontoon bridge built in 1847, followed by swing bridges — the last of which was replaced by the bascule in place today.


Located near both Union Station and the Olgilvie Transportation Center, the bridge is one of downtown Chicago’s busiest pedestrian crossings. Approximately 42,000 people walk across the span each day.


When the bridge opened in 1922, Chicago was a busy port. In the bridge’s early years, it was raised about 2,500 times per year. Now it’s raised about 50 times per year for the annual sailboat migration to and from Lake Michigan. It is estimated the bridge has been raised approximately 48,000 times in its history.


In 1989, the manager of the Lyric Opera of Chicago asked Mayor Eugene Sawyer to re-name a bridge in honor of the Opera’s 35th season. The Mayor obliged and the “world’s largest bridge party” was held in January of that year. The Madison Street Bridge was christened the “Lyric Opera Bridge” in a short outdoor ceremony that saw 2,200 silver balloons released into the sky.


For more information about the Madison Street Bridge, contact Jim Phillips (who provided this commentary) at 312.540.0696, or visit his website, which features multimedia pages for all of the Chicago Loop bridges.


You can test your steel structure knowledge right here on our MSC website on the last Friday of each month, where a new photo will be posted to the Steel in the News section as our weekly “Steel Shot.” Your challenge is to correctly answer the trivia question provided in the news post, based on what you see in the photo. The next question will be posted at 10 a.m. (Central Time) on Friday, December 28.


backscratcher-007_sitn.jpgThe first three people who supply the correct answer will receive an MSC-branded stainless steel back scratcher! You’ll need it to successfully tackle those pesky itches after the trivia pressure subsides. (And check out that telescoping action! Wow!) Its five-fingered curved design reaches from 7 in. to 20 3/4 in. in length.





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Online Voting for Tekla Global BIM Awards Ends Nov. 30
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 28, 2012 at 5:36 PM.

Vote for your favorite BIM projects around the world! Online voting for the 2012 Tekla Global BIM Awards is open to the public until Friday, November 30.


The annual global competition showcases many of world’s most impressive structural designs modeled by Tekla software. These include a variety of building and construction projects, from industrial projects to top-of-the-world towers.


Project entries are winners of the regional BIM Awards competitions held earlier this year and are divided into three categories: BIM, steel and concrete.


This year, 42 projects from 18 countries are competing in the global competition — 23 of which are steel.


To view and vote on this year’s entries, go to Tekla’s website at (direct link: (You’ll also have the opportunity to win a Microsoft Surface tablet.)



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Only 90 Days to Build World’s Tallest?
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 27, 2012 at 6:23 PM.

A Chinese company, Broad Sustainable Building, plans to build the tallest building in the world — in just 90 days.


It’s called Sky City, and engineers say it will be the tallest skyscraper in the world — at 2,749 ft and 220 floors — by the end of March of 2013, according to a recent article published on



The article says the skyscraper, which will rise in Changsha city, will be built at a rate of five floors per day. This incredibly fast construction rate will be achieved by using a prefabricated modular technology developed by Broad, which has built 20 tall structures in China, including a 30-story hotel in 15 days. (Click on the right image to link directly to a time-lapse video of the hotel construction.)


The project will use 220,000 tons of steel.


According to the article, foundation work will begin at the end of the month, once the Chinese authorities give the final go-ahead to the project.


To read the full article about the project, go to (direct link:

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Free Webinar: Using SIMON Software for Steel Bridge Superstructures
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 26, 2012 at 6:50 PM.

simon-word-mark.gifThe National Steel Bridge Alliance is offering a free live webinar this Thursday, November 29, on how to use its LRFD (Load and Resistance Factor Design) SIMON software. SIMON is a free line-girder analysis and design program that quickly produces steel superstructure designs in accordance with the AASHTO LRFD Bridge Design Specifications.


LRFD SIMON is strongly dependent on user input data defining the starting design and control parameters. From the user-defined starting point, the program quickly and accurately handles structural engineering calculations required for superstructure design.


The webinar will provide guidelines for defining a suitable starting design and also demonstrate how to effectively use the program to arrive at an optimum, cost-effective design using steel I-girders. Attendees will receive 0.15 CEUs/1.5 PDHs. 


The 1.5-hour webinar will begin at the following times, relative to time zone:

10 a.m. PST
11 a.m. MST
Noon CST
1 p.m. EST


Click here for additional information and to register for the webinar.


Did you know that SIMON has been around since the 1980s? Since then it has served hundreds of bridge engineers as a key tool to efficiently design and analyze steel bridges. A popular legend has it that Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel was the number-one song at the time SIMON was written, hence its name; “Garfunkel” would have been too obvious a name for it.

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Ferriola to be Named Nucor CEO January 1; DiMicco Continues as Executive Chairman
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 20, 2012 at 12:50 PM.

Daniel R. DiMicco, chief executive officer and executive chairman of Nucor Corporation, recently announced that he is passing the privilege and responsibility of CEO on to current president and COO, John J. Ferriola, effective January 1, 2013. DiMicco will remain with Nucor as executive chairman.


dimicco-headshot_300_edited.jpgDiMicco (pictured left) has served as CEO for more than 12 years and has led Nucor through one of its most profitable growth periods and an industry-leading total shareholder return of 463.9%. He is also last year’s recipient of the prestigious Robert P. Stupp Award for Leadership Excellence. The award, presented on a selective basis by AISC, gives special recognition to individuals who have provided unparalleled leadership in the steel construction industry.


“Dan DiMicco has been one of the nation’s outstanding CEOs,” said Peter C. Browning, Nucor’s lead independent director. “I believe one of his most remarkable and lasting achievements was his ability to retain and strengthen Nucor’s unique culture, even as Nucor’s strategy evolved.”


DiMicco commented, “Nucor couldn’t be in better hands. I’m very confident in the ability of John and the rest of our management team to take on our current and future challenges and to lead the company’s continual growth in the coming years. For the Board and me, it has been absolutely critical for the next Nucor CEO to come from within, and nothing brings me greater satisfaction than for John to be CEO going forward.”



Ferriola (pictured right) has stepped repeatedly into roles of increasing responsibility as part of Nucor’s succession planning. An electrical engineer by training, he began his career with Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1974. He joined Nucor in 1992 as manager of maintenance and engineering at the Jewett, Texas, bar mill.


Through his two decades with the company, Ferriola served as general manager at three divisions: Vulcraft Texas in Grapeland, the bar mill in Norfolk, Neb., and the sheet mill in Crawfordsville, Ind. He was named Executive Vice President in 2002, then COO of Steelmaking Operations in 2007. In January 2011, the Board of Directors appointed him Nucor’s President and COO and elected him to the Board.


“I am honored to be given the opportunity to lead the tremendous team we’ve assembled,” said Ferriola. “We have many challenges in front of us as we continue to work safely and take care of our customers. I am extremely excited about the impressive work being done by our team to significantly grow Nucor’s earnings platform well into the future.”


For more information, you can view Nucor’s press release in its entirety at (direct link:



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Overall and Structural Steel Recycling Rates at All-Time High
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 19, 2012 at 4:06 PM.

The recycling rate for the world’s most recycled material — steel — is at an all-time high of 92%, according to an announcement by the Steel Recycling Institute (SRI) in celebration of America Recycles Day last week.


More than 85 million tons of steel scrap was consumed by steelmaking furnaces in 2011 — an increase of nearly 10 million net tons from the previous year.


“This high level of scrap consumption is a reflection of the North American steel industry’s commitment to conserving energy and natural resources,” said Gregory L. Crawford, executive director of SRI. “The use of steel in everyday products — including packaging, appliances, automotive and construction — ensures quality while also supporting product stewardship, knowing that these products are routinely recycled at the end of their use, thanks to steel.”


structural-steel-recyling-rate-copy.jpgThe recycling rate for structural steel has held steady at an all-time high of 98% since 2009. (Click on the left infographic to see structural steel’s recycling rate over the past 15 years.)


Steel recycling rates are generally released up to 18 months following the end of the calendar year. They’re based on data released from the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) Annual Statistical Reports, U.S. Geological Survey, EPA Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste, National Automobile Dealers Association, Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries.


SRI also provides resources to help consumers learn about how and where to recycle their steel products locally. Visit the Steel Recycling Locator at for additional information.


To learn more about structural steel and sustainability, visit AISC’s website at

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Steel Shots: A Historic Bridge
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 16, 2012 at 4:19 PM.


Hays Street Bridge has two steel spans, one with Whipple-Phoenix truss and the other with Pratt truss. It was built in the early 1880’s over the Nueces River, west of Uvalde. In 1910, it was relocated over the Union Pacific Railroad on Hays Street. It was recently nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (Ref# 12000787). Photo and description by: Atchyut Sappa


This photo of San Antonio’s Hays Street Bridge, taken by Atchyut Sappa, a student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, received an Honorable Mention in AISC’s 2012 SteelDay Student Photo Contest.


The landmark bridge was nominated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places this past September. You can find an overview and history of the bridge at, a website that features historic and notable bridges in the U.S. (Direct link to Hays Street Bridge:
) Currently a pedestrian and bicyle facility, it also has its own Facebook fan page with additional photos and updates.


You can view all of the winning photo entries from this year’s Student Photo Contest at We’re featuring them as Steel Shots on the MSC website throughout the fall.

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The Spirit of SteelDay
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 15, 2012 at 6:04 PM.

SteelDay is all about giving people an inside look at the structural steel industry.


A two-minute video news segment aired this week on “Illinois Central,” a weekly program on WICS, the ABC affiliate in Springfield, Ill., that captures SteelDay’s spirit of learning and theme of “See What We Do” at Selvaggio Steel’s first-time SteelDay event in Springfield, Ill., this past September.



The video takes a look inside Selvaggio Steel’s fabrication facility and features interviews with SteelDay attendees as well as Mark Selvaggio, president of Selvaggio Steel, and AISC’s Upper Midwest Regional Engineer, Monica Shripka (pictured right — click on the image to link to the video).


It also highlights the importance of exposing students to the industry and its available career opportunities. Student attendee Jonathan Walker said, “I’m very happy with my experience here because I wouldn’t have known what they do. This is possibly something I could see myself doing in the near future.”


You can watch the video segment at (direct link to the video:


Selvaggio Steel’s event was one of more than 175 free events across the U.S. for the fourth annual SteelDay this past September. Hosted by AISC, its members and partners, SteelDay is the structural steel industry’s largest networking and educational event for the design and construction community and the public. More than 10,000 people attended this year.


To learn more about SteelDay, visit Next year’s national event is scheduled for October 4, 2013.


Selvaggio Steel is also fabricating more than two million lbs. of steel for the 132,000-sq.-ft Springfield Clinic 1st expansion in Springfield, Ill. All of the steel is being painted with pink protective coating in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To learn more about the project, see our news item from last month, here.

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Free Open BIM Course Available
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 14, 2012 at 4:06 PM.

To help structural engineering students, faculty and professionals learn more about Building Information Modeling (BIM), its impact on today’s structural engineering workflows and their role in the process, Nemetschek Engineering offers a free Open BIM course.


The course demonstrates the benefits and considerations of working in a collaborative, model-based workflow. It guides structural engineers through Industry Foundation Class (IFC) model exchanges and Open BIM concepts and exercises that can be applied to almost any BIM workflow.


The curriculum is organized as a self-paced lab and takes between four and six hours to complete. An illustrated, step-by-step instructional guide, lab exercise files and copies of Scia Engineer 2012 software can be downloaded for free at the Nemetschek Scia Campus website at (direct link to the course: You can also request a Tryout Edition of Scia Engineer software at


For more information you can call 877.808.7242 or email

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LEED Buildings Rank Near Top in Energy Performance
Posted by Tasha Weiss on November 13, 2012 at 8:33 PM.

A recent analysis performed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) shows that LEED buildings in the sample are performing in the top 11th percentile in the U.S. in terms of energy usage, and the average ENERGY STAR score for those LEED buildings is 89 out of 100 possible points. The analysis was based on LEED projects that have submitted data to USGBC both voluntarily and as required by LEED 2009.


The majority of the 195 buildings that were analyzed are certified under the existing building rating system. The buildings range in size from 2,000 sq. ft to three million sq. ft, and are a mix of office and retail buildings.


“The ENERGY STAR data we’ve released gives us an indication as to where the numbers are trending. In the coming months we will be releasing additional LEED energy information,” said Scot Horst, senior vice president, LEED, USGBC. “Green buildings provide a host of benefits and LEED has spurred significant growth in energy-efficient buildings across the globe.”


LEED is estimated to support nearly eight million jobs across all 50 states and contributes $554 billion to the U.S. economy annually. Today, more than 9.3 billion sq. ft of building space is participating in LEED with 15,000 LEED certified commercial buildings around the globe.


The announcement comes at the start of USGBC’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, taking place November 14-16 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. To view the announcement in its entirety, visit (direct link:


AISC, along with the Steel Recycling Institute, is a Silver Sponsor of the conference, including the Community Lounge meeting and recreation space at the entrance to the south hall of the Moscone Center. If you’re at the show, stop by and say hello to AISC/SRI at booth 3878N in the exhibit hall.

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