Saturday, April 9, 2011

Thoughts on structure...

In the interim submission for this project I focused on the exterior envelope, that protective and aesthetic facade the mediates heats gain and daylight and serves as the monumental and iconic presentation of the building to the surrounding context. The building itself was left simply as massing at this stage (Image 1).
I also delved into the assembly of this exterior skeleton's structure, proposing that it be assembled of 2 layers of steel structure, a heavier but simpler sub-structure overlaid with a lightweight super-structure. This allows the exterior facade to be independent of the building, minimizing the need for intermediary structure and minimizing the transfer of heat directly through conduction (Image 2)

I am now delving into the lightweight steel structure that will comprise the frame of the facility buildings itself. Steel allows for the flexibility of design and large spans that accommodate the program. It requires relatively simple foundations (which minimizes impact on the ground and requires less digging in the caliche).
With companies such as Schuff Steel Company Southwest based in Las Vegas and the large amount of steel discarded form casino projects, it is highly feasible that local steel could be found and reused in the project, allowing for savings and even LEED points for local extraction and recycled content.

The framing system is based on 2 radial systems of columns with a maximal depth of 20m in the training facility and 8m-10m in the opposite structure. At their widest, bays are 8m wide (roughly 3m at the narrow end).
Given a desire for maximal space ceiling heights due both to program and daylight penetration, most of the facility is on the ground floor. There is only one section with a second story, 3m above grade.

Image 1 - Training Facility with attached classrooms and office. The training facility has maximal span and height. Cross-bracing is achieved via the curved round HSS that run horizontally and the large cross-bracing on the flat interior side. The classrooms and office space will have a curved wall that will shade itself. The frame will be clad in polycarbonate panels, 3m high and 1.5m wide.

Image 2 - Performance center/cafeteria/design studio and other program. Here the structure for the long ramp up to the second story can be seen as well as the OWSJ flooring system and roof frame. Most of the facade here will be undulating but the whole facade will be polycarbonate panels, as with the other side (some here will be completely opaque though rather then translucent).

Image 3 - Gives an impression of the complete building structural system. The pool, a concrete structure in the middle of the facility and a small basement level and depressed, retaining wall landscape treatment have been omitted as they are all bellow grade and consist of rammed earth and concrete mix.

Missing: I have not been able to find a precedent for the framing of the sloped roof on the building in Image 2 (the major facility). HSS are out of the question, even though the roof will not be supporting much live load. Wide flanges ("I"-beams) are an option but it seems to me that it would be too complex to assemble and weld them at an angle. Trusses seem the most viable but on an angle? I can't seem to find an example of how this might be accomplished effectively. Perhaps I need to reconsider the roof structure...

Ideas people..?

Image 1 - Building Massing and Exterior Envelope

Image 2 - Exterior Envelope Structure

Image 3 - Training Facility Structure

Image 4 - Performance/Cafeteria/Design Studio Structure

Image 5 - Complete Building Structure


  1. Short of giving a seminar on the wonderous case studies in steel construction, our friend Professor Terri Meyer Boake has provided a nice compilation of notable steel construction projects... almost worth putting together into a textbook...

  2. Thanks, I think I saw something that I actually saw before but now it has given me an idea...