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Steel in the News

Chicago’s Clark St. Bridge Turns 85
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 11, 2014 at 9:35 AM.

clark-street-bridge.jpg“Great Parade to Open Span, Hail New Era - Clark Bridge to Be Ready July 10” - that’s the headline from the Chicago Daily Tribune in June of 1929 before the Clark St. Bridge opened 85 years ago yesterday.


The parade consisted of 10 groups depicting the development of Chicago’s Clark St. from trail to modern city thoroughfare. Organized by local merchants, the parade was a celebration of the new steel bascule bridge and a show of appreciation to the Chicago Public Works Department for completing the bridge six months ahead of schedule. This was the last bridge built using pony trusses in the city’s downtown area.


The Clark St. Bridge is operated about 40 times each year for seasonal sailboat runs to and from Lake Michigan. Currently the south bank of the Chicago River between State and LaSalle streets is undergoing a transformation as the Chicago Riverwalk is being extended west. After the dust clears next spring it will be possible for pedestrians to walk underneath the bridge. There are many reasons to like Chicago’s Riverwalk, but for a bridge enthusiast the ability to watch a bridge rise above you is a special treat.


For more information about the Clark St. 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.

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New Format for Engineering Journal
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 8, 2014 at 4:52 PM.

AISC’s Engineering Journal has replaced its digital edition browser with a single downloadable PDF file at The current issue of EJ will be available for download and viewing until the next issue is posted.


Articles for the complete collection of EJ will remain available individually in the searchable archives. Downloads of current and past articles in PDF format are free to AISC members and ePubs subscribers. Non-AISC members may subscribe to EJ at the AISC bookstore.


ej-q3.jpgThe third quarter 2014 issue of EJ is now available online at


This issue of EJ is the second of two issues with a special focus on the “simple for dead load–continuous for live load” — or SDCL — design concept. The premise behind the concept is that girders erected as simple spans can be made to function under live load as continuous spans by providing continuity with a unique field connection. In addition to covering research, the issue highlights a successful SDCL bridge project from the engineer’s perspective.





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Rethinking Architecture
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 7, 2014 at 6:02 PM.

“The idea of rethinking your space is essential for a city today,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in his keynote address at the 2014 AIA Convention in Chicago last month (at which AISC was an exhibitor).


Emanuel shared top keynote billing with two prominent Chicago designers—architect Jeanne Gang and artist Theaster Gates—and talked about next year’s inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial (an international forum for the exploration of new ideas in architecture) as well as the city’s position as an influential leader in architecture.


“People from around the world are now migrating back to cities,” the mayor said. “In the same way that 100 years ago Chicago was at the epicenter of modern architecture, we are now at the epicenter of rethinking livable, sustainable and beautiful cities—and your work is essential to think through that effort.”


The idea of ‘rethinking’ architecture seemed to be a running theme throughout the AIA show, which attracted nearly 20,000 attendees this year, according to show organizers.


During the show, AIA announced the availability of its “AIA Foresight Report,” which highlights key trends in the architecture marketplace and their impact on business and growth. One key trend is that design firms are exploring alternative ways to attract and retain key talent, including flexible work plans (hours and location) that allow for better work-life balance, improved work environments, profit sharing programs, fringe benefits and ongoing education. Another key finding was that crowdfunding and crowdsourcing signal major changes in the role of users and clients in the design process. The report also points out that more than half of design firm leaders in North America expect growth for the next year, and the  Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates nearly 19,000 architecture jobs will be added to the U.S. economy between 2012 and 2022, which represents a greater-than-average growth rate of 17%.


AIA also announced the release of seven updated documents in the AIA Contract Documents Design-Build family. These documents are among the most frequently used documents of the entire AIA portfolio and are preferred by the industry at large for use on commercial design-build projects.


“These updated design-build documents strengthen the relationship between the owner and design-builder by fostering greater collaboration and increased communication between the parties,” said Deborah DeBernard, the AIA’s vice president and general manager of AIA Contract Documents.


2014-aia-show-booth.jpgThe main focus of the AISC’s booth was curved steel (click on the image to enlarge), which had architects reimagining their designs with the flexibility and creativity that steel brings to a project. A wide-flange curved steel sculpture provided by AISC member Chicago Metal Rolled Products was a big draw, spurring questions about how steel can be bent. And the AISC-sponsored session “Innovative Applications in Architecturally Exposed Structural Steel (AESS)” was packed with attendees. Terri Meyer Boake, professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Waterloo, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, talked about the many advantages of AESS, such as how it eliminates the need for cover systems due to its modern aesthetic.


You can find information about curved steel and AESS on AISC’s website or by contacting AISC’s Steel Solutions Center at 866.ASK.AISC or


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Steel Shots: Campus Revival
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 7, 2014 at 8:45 AM.

The Cowles Hall structural rehabilitation project at Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y., reinforces old with new. Photo: Elmira College


Cowles Hall is at the center of Elmira College’s campus. But at one point it was the entire campus.


The facility was built in 1855 when the college was founded in Elmira, N.Y. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it served as the sole facility for the all-female college (which has been coeducational since 1969), functioning as a student dormitory, dining hall, classroom space and library; it was later named after Dr. Augustus Cowles, the College’s first president.


In 2010, Elmira College, which now has nearly 1,200 students, commissioned an extensive $29 million stabilization and restoration of Cowles Hall, which had been out of use for nearly 20 years. The project was completed in two parts: 1) stabilization of the foundation and construction of a shell in preparation for interior demolition and 2) rebuilding the interior floor by floor.


In addition to the critical structural rehabilitation, rebuilding the interior meant restoring the building’s main level to its original function as a public campus space. This included a new four-story, 3,345-sq.-ft chapel in the east wing and a lounge, offices and conference room in the west wing, all connected by an octagonal central Remembrance Hall reception area. The upper three floors were prepared as flex space for a future nursing school.


To learn more about the project, read the article in the current July issue of MSC.

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Project Plan Room App
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 3, 2014 at 10:31 AM.

dexter-chaney-project-plan-room-app-image.jpgDexter + Chaney, providers of Spectrum Construction Software, has unveiled its new Project Plan Room mobile app (click on image to enlarge). The app allows users to distribute construction documents, communicate data and relay project information in real time to employees’ and subcontractors’ mobile devices on the jobsite. It follows the recently-released Payroll Time Entry app as the second mobile app offered by the company.
The Project Plan Room app was designed to increase efficiency and collaboration between field staff and the office. It synchronizes with Spectrum’s Plan Room application, providing project team members access to the latest versions of plans, specifications, drawings and other documents. Users can also zoom in on documents for more details or a closer look at drawings and sketches.
The app works online or offline, with no dependency on an Internet connection in order to operate or view documents. Once an Internet connection is established, synchronizing with Spectrum for updates or new document versions is a one-tap function.
The Project Plan Room app was developed for Android, Apple, and Windows Surface tablets and is currently available from the online app stores.

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AISC to Release New Certification Requirements
Posted by Tasha Weiss on July 1, 2014 at 2:01 PM.

AISC will post the new Program Requirements for its Building Fabricator and updated Erector Quality Management System (QMS) Certification Program on August 1. These documents will be the governing criteria for the each program and will reference their respective standards—the Standard for Steel Building Structures (AISC 201-06) for building fabricators and the new Standard for Structural Steel Erectors – 2013 (AISC 206-13) for erectors.


For the Erector Program, this negates the former erector checklists and existing categories (Certified Steel Erector and Advanced Certified Steel Erector), a move previously accomplished with AISC’s Fabricator QMS Programs. Previously, companies were audited to checklists, which were intended to demonstrate they had created the required management and quality procedures. The updated program is designed to ensure companies not only say they have procedures in place, but are actually following them.


New erector applicants must meet the new Program Requirements on September 1 when applying for Erector Certification. For current erector participants, the conversion between the “Certified and Advanced Certified Erector Checklists” and the new erector requirements will begin on August 1, 2015. The conversion is mandatory for all participants and will be completed in August 2016. Starting August 1, 2014, current erector participants will be will be given a gap analysis during their annually scheduled audit.


New building fabricator applicants must meet the new Program Requirements on September 1 when applying for Building Fabricator Certification. Current building fabricator participants must meet the new requirements on August 1, 2015.


For more information, please visit If you have additional questions or comments, please contact AISC’s Certification Department at

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Bridging Steel and Concrete
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 30, 2014 at 5:52 PM.

pci-journal.jpgWhen you look at the Spring 2014 cover photo of PCI Journal (publication of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute), you may be surprised to see a lot of steel.


The issue’s cover story is about the Mackenzie River twin bridges, a pair of two-lane bridges constructed using steel girders to support a precast concrete deck.


The bridges cross a deep gorge of the Mackenzie River as part of a new TransCanada Highway realignment near Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. There was considerable pressure to construct the two bridges as quickly as possible to prevent use of the existing congested highway by heavy construction vehicles. Various structural forms were considered. In the end, steel girders with a precast concrete deck offered the best combination of economy, expediency and aesthetics.


Each bridge has five variable-depth, corrosion-resistant steel plate girders that support the precast concrete deck, which is made up of precast concrete approach slabs and 130 precast concrete deck panels. The slabs and panels were connected at transverse joints and attached to the steel girders using field-cast concrete.


Read the article to learn more about how steel and concrete worked together as an innovative system for the twin bridges.

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Steel Structure Trivia: Glacier Skywalk
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 27, 2014 at 12:00 PM.

Here’s MSC’s June Steel Structure Trivia challenge! Opened to the public in May, the Glacier Skywalk is an exciting and dramatic cliff-edge walkway designed to offer spectacular views and blend in with the natural environment. The 1,300-ft-long curved, glass-bottomed walkway was constructed using weathering steel and cantilevers 100 ft from the cliff face, putting visitors 1,000 ft above the valley floor. Photo: Robert Lemermeyer


Trivia Question: Where is the Glacier Skywalk located?




The Glacier Skywalk is located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies - Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada. Congratulations to our winners: Jamie Weikum, structural engineer at Protostatix Engineering Consultants in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Yazan Moghrabi, project coordinator at Schuff Steel in Orlando, Fla. (an AISC member and AISC certified fabricator); Santhosh Pandian, deputy manager at CBRE in Chennai, India; and Petr Vancura, director of communications at Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP in New York, N.Y.


Keep an eye out for our August “What’s Cool in Steel” issue of MSC, which will feature a detailed article about the Glacier Skywalk and other cool steel projects around the world!


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 on Friday, July 25.




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Get Ahead of the (Steel) Curve at AIA
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 26, 2014 at 8:46 AM.

aia-aisc-booth.jpgThe AIA Convention and Expo is being held today through Saturday in Chicago. Will you be attending? If so, enhance your show experience by talking curved steel in AISC’s booth (#4342).


Stop by and examine AISC’s curved steel sculpture, and learn more about how steel is curved and how you can attain your architectural goals with curved steel. And be sure to ask for a complimentary copy of AISC’s Curved Steel brochure while they last.


ave-maria.jpgThe photo at right shows how curved steel was used to enhance the design creativity and efficiency of the Ave Maria University Oratory in Ave Maria, Fla., a 2008 AISC IDEAS2 Award winner. Photo: New York Focus LLC


AISC works with architects and other design and construction professionals to develop unique, economical and sustainable steel framing solutions. For complimentary assistance on your project, contact AISC’s Steel Solutions Center at 866.ASK.AISC or


aia-trolley.jpgGoing Green at this year’s convention? Take Chicago’s Red Line El train from downtown to the Chinatown stop and hop aboard AISC’s complimentary trolley shuttle to and from the McCormick Place Convention Center. (A 25-minute walk.)




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New Bridge Blog
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 24, 2014 at 4:57 PM.

Structal-Bridges (an AISC/NSBA member and AISC certified fabricator), a division of Canam Group, has launched a blog that will serve as a platform for sharing expertise on various topics related to the bridge construction industry.


“Structal-Bridges has created a blog that, we hope, will become an ally in the execution of bridge projects,” said Robin Lapointe, vice president, Structal-Bridges. “This latest initiative is in line with our ongoing efforts aimed at the pursuit of a better customer experience. Through the means of regular posts by our experts, this blog will present technical articles, case studies as well as information on our new products and services.”


Visit the blog at; articles can be shared and the site provides an option to receive email alerts when new articles are issued. The blog can also be accessed on Structal-Bridges’ website homepage ( by clicking on the “Blog” tab or on the banner “Follow our blog.” You can also keep up with Structal-Bridge updates on Twitter @StructalBridges. 

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